Here's a letter from one of our lovely readers who's in love with a guy who seems to be suffering from commitment-phobia. Read her story, along with my response:
I stumbled across your site in search of answers for a non-committal guy. I couldn't find a situation close enough to mine so here it goes...
I fell in love with this guy. It took him 2 years to get a hold of me. We lasted for 3 months before he told me some unsettling news..."We wouldn't work out in the future."
Now it took me a couple of weeks to unravel the meaning behind this. He told me he couldn't commit and probably wouldn't commit. He had given me a promise ring a month into the relationship so him calling things off was surprising.
I saw it coming a few weeks before because he became distant. I did what I thought was right, gave him space, acted like nothing was wrong until the day of our breakup I couldn't take it anymore. I told him I knew something was up and that's when he told me the news.
Nothing was wrong in our relationship really. We never fought. We had great chemistry. I loved his family. The only problem was commitment.
Now he's not the average guy on the block. He's smart and respects me, my body, my thoughts. He was a bit of a player before I met him and that's why it took me so long to get into the relationship.
He still likes me and messes with me but won't commit. I believe it's linked to his father, who is a good man, because his father never married and "plays" around. His father is also a noncommittal guy. I saw potential and the day of our breakup he told me his intentions were not to break up with me that day but he didn't want me to be strung along when he realized we couldn't have a future.
I love him very much and are still friends. He acts like we're still together at times even. I want to have a future with him but I just don't know what to do. I can't change him. I can't make him commit.
I will move on but...I'd like to try again in the future. What should I do with him right now? We text a little, he acts distant and I know he is texting his other ex's because he did during the relationship. And another thing...I was his first SERIOUS relationship. Things got deep and he told me he can't handle the emotions and work that goes into it.
I'd still like to be with him since there was so much love left to hang in the wind. Please tell me your thoughts and thank you so much for taking the time to read this!
This is exactly how it goes more often than not, Destiny.
When you see the signs that you’re always right about, when you sense it, when you can feel it and you do what you know is best; you give him that space, you go on like nothing has changed, until the reality of what’s really going on with someone like this catches up with the potential that you've clung so tightly to.
It’s only when, as you say, you can’t take living like this anymore, not being true to yourself or to the truth of what you know in your heart, you finally speak up.
And that’s when you find out you can always trust your instincts, you always know when something more is going on. It wasn't news to either of you, but bringing it up freed you both to express yourselves, to tell the truth of what page you were both on and so now you know exactly what you’re dealing with and you can decide where you want to go from here with this, with him.
You are so right for recognizing that you can’t change him, you can’t make him commit.
Just coming to that on your own is huge, Destiny, as so many of us get stuck in that part and only come to this after we've done so much damage to ourselves. The reality, though, is that while you’d like to try again in the future, he has to want to, too.
And so when he tells you that he “can’t handle the emotions and work that goes into it”, when he says “we wouldn't work out in the future”, and when he breaks it down even further for you by explaining that he “couldn't commit” and “probably wouldn't commit”, you have to ask yourself why you want to be with someone who is making such a point of making sure that you know exactly where he stands and what he isn't going to be doing with you.
Whatever his reasons, whatever his father was or wasn't – and yes, our family histories and dynamics are such a contributing factor to so many issues around commitment. But as romantic an idea it is to rescue him from himself, to be that first serious love that conquers all, you’re not here to save or rescue anyone.
True love is about being with someone who’s on the same page as you, who wants what you want with you and is willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. This isn't someone who's repeatedly telling you with his words - and his actions - that the page he’s on isn't the one you’re on and clearly shows you this when he's texting both you and his other exes at the same time.
But you have to come to this for yourself.
You have to decide what you can live with and what you can’t when you decide what you want to do right now with him. And if you decide you want to wait, there’s only one thing to do. You live your own life.
You live and you live and you live some more. You go places you've never been, you do things you've always wanted to do, you create that beautiful life that just waiting for you to jump in with both feet. You discover your passions and you follow your dreams.
You find the things that stir your very soul.
You don't nag, you don't try to manipulate or control him, you don't play games. You stay true to yourself. You’re honest and you’re real. You don’t compromise on what you want and what you’re willing to settle for.
You keep your options open and adopt the mindset that YOU are the prize here - because that’s exactly what you are! And in this kind of living, you make your own life so full and happy with the things that bring you joy so that you won't be looking to him to complete you or fill you up.
When you live your life like this, you'll find out that what he does or doesn't do doesn't matter as much as you do, and if he's ready to take things to the next step, you'll have given him the best chance to do this on his own.
That's what this is all about; living your own beautiful life in such a way that what someone else does or doesn't do doesn't matter; what matters above all else is your own happiness!
I hope this helps.
Do you have any other thoughts, encouragement, or advice for our beautiful friend Destiny? Share them with us in the comments.