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Written by By Kemi Amushan - The Guardian, Nigeria.
A FRIEND of mine recently shared her frustrations with her long-distance boyfriend and the fact that he keeps coming up with reasons to put off their relationship and commitment.
There are things he needs to accomplish before he can consider marriage, he tells her. Even though she loves him and wants a life with him, she is uncertain of whether to be patient and hang in there, in the hope he will come around, or give up on the relationship and move on.
This is a common dilemma lots of us face when dealing with a guy who avoids commitment. Such men are called commitment phobic men. He is not able to or does not want to engage in a long-term, committed relationship. Commitment phobics generally fear a loss of control and autonomy. As long as they remain single, they have no one to answer to and no one to be responsible for, other than themselves. Some commitment phobics even have a fear of intimacy i.e getting too close to someone emotionally.
Some people have said that the source of these fears is often the result of issues they experienced growing up. It could have been a controlling or critical parent or a volatile or broken marriage he witnessed between his parents. The list is endless.
Whatever the source of his issues, he avoids marriage like a vampire avoids the sun – as if the mere mention of it might kill him. A commitment phobic man can fall into one of these categories.
With this type of commitment phobic the relationship may seem perfectly normal at first. But as soon as you start to become too “in to him” or express any kind of expectations of him or the relationship, he begins to pull back and distance himself. The more you try to “pursue” the more he will pull away. Distancers have a fear of someone invading their privacy and/or trying to control them; it is about protecting their emotional and physical space. Many times with a distancer, if you stop pursuing and begin to distance yourself from him, he will sense that the threat level is down and suddenly call and want to go out with you again. Unfortunately, this relationship often remains stuck in a circling game of cat and mouse.
This guy prefers his own company to spending time with a significant other. He needs the flexibility of doing his own thing when he wants and with whom he wants without anyone to answer to or disappoint. It is not that he craves variety in his women; he just does not form the typical bonding seen in people who desire a long-term relationship. In other words, he has no need of a “partner” to share in his life. With him, it is more about emotional detachment. If you are there, fine; if you are not there, that is fine too! The single-at-heart equates marriage with responsibility for another person. He does not want to be responsible for anyone else’s happiness and does not need anyone to make him happy either. You can call him self-centered and you would pretty much be right!
The Confirmed Bachelor
What is great about this guy is that he usually comes right out and tells you of his plans to remain single. But too often, women ignore his declaration of bachelorhood and think they can be the one to change his mind. Even though he may date you exclusively, which is part of the reason so many women hold out hope, he wants to keep his options open. Marriage means a loss of freedom and he needs to know he is free to move on if he gets bored or something “better” comes along. He is the “no strings attached” guy!
The Reformed Bachelor
This guy has been married before but his bad experience has left him bitter. He now pledges never to “make that mistake again!” The reformed bachelor equates marriage with relationship problems and he is convinced the best way to avoid them is to not get married. No matter how “good” you think your relationship is there is little you can do to change his thinking. He has sworn off marriage. Whatever the reason or source of the commitment phobic’s fears or beliefs, it is not likely that he will ever change or come around. But just because a man is exhibiting signs that he is not ready for commitment does not mean he is commitment phobic.
So how do you know if the guy you are seeing right now is one of them or he just needs a little more time? It is not always easy to tell in the short-term, but here are some typical clues to help you assess your man’s phobia level.
•He is very set in his ways. From his schedule to his hobbies and to the way he keeps his home, he has a strong need to maintain his personal sense of order. He has no desire for any “woman’s touch” to alter or invade his personal space. You can visit, but do not show any signs of getting too comfortable.
•Even though you have been together for quite a while, when the subject of commitment or marriage comes up, he has a never ending list of things he has to accomplish or get off his plate before he can consider “getting serious.”
•He tells you he is never getting married. If he admits to not being marriage material you had best believe him. Trust me.
•He keeps you separate from most aspects of his life. When he chooses to spend time with you everything is great, but he rarely or never includes you in the everyday aspects of his life. He does not share his work, his ambitions, many of his hobbies, and certainly not his feelings.
•He prefers to go solo to family functions, parties, or the wedding of a friend and often takes vacations by himself. Even his friends think of him as a bit of a loner.
•He has a pattern of dating women from somewhere else. And the fact that distance keeps you from spending much time together does not seem to bother him. And in many cases it is you who is always taking the initiative to schedule time together or make the trek to visit him.
• He has had a string of short-term relationships that ended when the woman wanted a commitment or before things could get too serious.
•He prefers to remain flexible so he tends to call you last minute for dates or he promises to call but then does not.
•The commitment phobic will pull back or quit calling if you try to engage him in discussions about how you feel or where your relationship is going.