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Is there such a thing as commitment phobia?

Tagged as: Big Questions, Breaking up, Friends, Health<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (28 July 2015) 5 Answers - (Newest, 30 July 2015)
A female United States age 36-40, anonymous writes:


I'm just out of a 4 years relationship that really broke my heart. My boyfriend left me saying he was mixed up, and needed to do soul searching.

It has been a week since we are separated and with no contact.

I am just beginning of getting the bigger picture, some clarity about what happened and I was wondering if commitment phobia could be involved. As you see, I'm looking for answers since I am kind of looking for explanations in order to get some closure in this difficult situation.

Here are some characteristics of my ex-boyfriend, would that feel like someone who is reluctant to commitment to you? Thanks for your opinion.

- Very handsome early fourties

- Tall and very athletic

- Always involved in what appears to be complicated love relationships (we were long distance at first (America/Europe), he has been involved with married women in previous relationships)

- His relationships never lasted very long and after he was 27, he never lived with a woman.

- We have been 2 years long distance (seeing each others every 2 months or so) and 2 years living together (he moved to be with me). During the 2 years we lived together, he got back to France a few times for 4 weeks at the time to visit his friends and family (I was not with him because I was working)

- He seems to always find a way to retract from the relationship, doing separate activities, spending a lot of time playing video games, listening to series.

- He is very secretive/private (locking his phone, computer, etc..)

- He has cheated on most of his girlfriends (me included when we were LDR - and he didn't tell me until the end of the relationship)

- He acts in a seductive way with everyone and seeks validation from other women

- He says he lacks self confidence and needs a lot of validation that he is desired

- Something that caught my attention from the start was the fact that he could never look me in the eyes for a long time, he wouldn't want to lock eyes with me for a minute, saying it feels 'strange'! As if I was about to see all he was.. (reluctant to show vulnerability)

- When he moved in with me, he initiate a fight, he was very uncomfortable about the situation (anxiety due to commitment?)

- I always felt he had a foot in and a foot out of the relationship door

- He was finding me faults (not feminine enough (ex. wearing more sexy clothing that showed a little cleavage, not pampered enough, etc..)

- I think that our relationship and interactions made me a little more vulnerable in general and affected my self esteem a little. I think that it was his goal (unconsciously or consciously) to diminish my confidence.

- He is always late (even with friends and family).

- His job is not really engaging, in the sense that it is quite flexible and that he has 16 weeks off through the year.

Apart from that he seems to be able to make friends and develop friendships, he really loves that in fact. He is good friend with women that are older than him, he has gay friends and single guys friends, couples, he is open minded.

View related questions: confidence, long distance, moved in, my ex, self esteem, video games

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A female reader, Euphoria30 Germany +, writes (30 July 2015):

Dear OP,

I am not entirely convinced about the commitment-phobia theory, at least not when it comes to you. Because your ex-boyfriend DID commit to you and moved in with you and lived with you for 2 years. That has to count as a long and serious relationship.

You both came from different countries, had different ideas about life, but you seem like you both gave it a really serious try to make it work. I have a lot of respect for that.

I feel like it could be for the best that you're broken up, because you both sound like you were frustrated about each other. You may have wished to have a partner that can look you in the eyes, introduce you to family, maybe move faster towards having a family of your own and be more reliable and trusting/trustworthy at the same time.

He may have wished for a partner that is as much concerned and perfectionist about her looks as he is about his, that is a little more distant and independent.. who knows.

The way I see it, it doesn't really matter if he has a disorder, because it can't be changed anymore and he's gone now anyway. It's more important for you that you start to listen to your needs and chose a man at your side that will help you feel good and loved and trusted.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (28 July 2015):

Well dont you owe this guy a big fat thank you with a bow on it. Wow what s lucky escape you had girl.

The infidelity and secrecy are the two traits you need to concentrate on to pull you through. They are big huge no no's.

You are doing exactly what most of us do ie asking yourself why it didn't work. There is no trust there lady and thats your answer. You need to process things and put the baby to bed and that takes time. There is no magic cure for that process.

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A male reader, BazingaToZulus Canada +, writes (28 July 2015):

BazingaToZulus agony auntHi there, I don't know the type of relationship you two had one on one on a day to day basis when you were living together (ex : closes interactions like displays of affection, communication dynamics, complicity and general intimacy) but I can tell you one thing, there are people who are in it for themselves only, as long as it's serves them.

Now I'm not saying that he's a jerk or anything like that, but some people show a pattern that's self serving for many reasons (steered in that direction because of past experiences or sometimes they just don't care because it suits them) and the fact that he's in his early 40's isn't really helping.

He's displaying many traits usually found in younger men, people in their mid 30's and up show a more grounded agenda that involves goals like building a meaningful relationship on a deeper level, plans of marriage and building a family so on and so forth, but it's on a sharing level and he doesn't seem to be a team player. Considering these factors alone should give you reasons to pause and step back because you want a relationship that's built on love, trust, mutual respect and understanding and goal oriented compatibility that implies semi long term planning with a certain level of stability and he's showing non of that from what I read.

If you're knocking on a door and you get the feeling after a while that nobody is home, then maybe you should pick a different door...there are plenty around that will open. Think about it and good luck to you

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (28 July 2015):

I think you have a good hunch about him being uncomfortable committing to any relationships. From the things that you listed, I would probably guess the same. He sounds selfish and closed off, and like a bit of a user really. Good as a casual friend, but not for more or deeper than that.

Sorry about your breaking up. Sounds like you need a better mate, one that wants to be with you as much as you want to be with him. This wasn't the guy from what you describe.

I know it hurts, but you are free now, and can find a better man when you are ready.

Best of luck!

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (28 July 2015):

Honeypie agony auntI don't know about closure, but I think he REALLY likes the idea of a mate/partner and relationship BUT he really wants to be able to do as he pleases as well.

I don't think it's "just" about commitment phobia, more of a constantly seeking for that "perfect" partner (even if such a one doesn't exist). What he might totally forget is there is NO such thing, not is he in fact perfect either.

I think the BEST way for you to look at this as a we didn't fit long term. Not because there is something "wrong" with me OR with him - but we are not "meant to be". Then let him go and move on.

Trying to "diagnose" him now is to "give" him an excuse or yourself an excuse as to why it didn't work out. If it makes YOU feel better, go for it. Personally, I think MANY of the traits you mentioned are those kind of traits many women stay away from in a man.(like cheater, finding fault WITH you, make you feel "small".) So maybe... JUST maybe it was a good thing that he walked away because don't you think you deserve a guy who is not trying to teat you down, but build you up?

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