It is, unfortunately, a common problem. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl date. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl move in together. Boy and girl continue to date.
The seasons change.
The years pass.
And nothing changes.
Boy and girl continue to date. They’re dating exclusively now. They live together, except for those times when Girl gets fed up with Boy refusing to make any form of commitment to her. That causes a fight, and Boy walks out in a huff, stays with his mom or his friends for a few days, and then walks back in like nothing ever happened.
If you’re that Girl, this article is for you.
5 Things You Need to Know When He Won’t Commit
First, let’s get a few things out of the way. There are a few things you need to understand if you’re with a man who won’t commit:
- It’s usually not your fault. I see this in my clients who are doing everything right. It happens with well-educated, talented, smart, beautiful women who are bending over backwards for their men, and it STILL happens. So forgive yourself. Let go of the guilt.
- It’s okay to be angry, hurt, upset, and unhappy about the situation. You have a right to feel your feelings. You have been jerked around and your emotions have been yanked and pulled in a thousand different directions. It is NORMAL for you to feel upset. Forgive yourself for that.
- It is not always possible to force him to commit. This is the simple and honest truth. Whether you can get him to commit to you depends on WHY he’s refusing to commit, so that’s what we’re going to focus on.
- It’s not your fault, but it may be within your power to change. You didn’t cause it, but depending on the reason he’s acting up, it may be within your power to change his behavior and get him to commit to you.
- It’s not fair. The burden of work here is falling on you. Again. And that is NOT fair. But unfortunately, that’s also just the way it is. If you’re the one who wants the change, you’re going to have to take on the work. It’s not fair, and it sucks. HE should be changing. HE should be working. But HE doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the current arrangement. So if you want a change, you’re going to be doing the work.
It’s Okay to Be Pissed Off
In a standard heterosexual marriage (or marriage-like relationship), there are certain duties, responsibilities, and privileges that come with the arrangement. While individual relationships will have some variation to account for individual preferences, most of us have fairly similar ideas about what “marriage” means.
For a man, the advantages of marriage may include:
- Having someone to help with or do the bulk of cooking and food preparation
- Having someone to help with or do the bulk of laundry and clothing management
- Having someone to help with or do the bulk of housework, cleaning, and household management
- Being able to come home at the end of the day to a clean, comfortable home
- Having someone to bear his children and to do the lion’s share of work in raising the children (especially during their younger years)
- Having someone to help them monitor and maintain their physical health and well-being
For a woman, the advantages of marriage may include:
- Having someone to help with household maintenance and repair
- Having someone to have children with and help raise children with (especially with regards to the child’s financial needs)
- Having the social protection and benefit that comes from the “marriage” status (e.g., people often treat you with greater respect or deference, it helps to deter predatory behavior from other men)
- Having someone to help provide a sense of security and safety
For both parties, the advantages of marriage may include:
- Having a nearby sexual partner that is more likely to be happily consenting
- Pooling income or having another income source, or having another adult that COULD work or bring in income if necessary (even in a single-income family)
- Having another adult in the household who can (or could) assist with other household duties or child-rearing duties if necessary
Why Women are Pissed Off by Non-Commital Men
I frequently see clients who are giving all the advantages of marriage to their male partners and receiving none of the advantages of marriage in return. These bold, strong women are raising their children solo, fixing everything around the house, and paying all the bills. Meanwhile, the men come and go as they please, living with them, having them cook and clean and wash their clothes, taking advantage of their sexual availability, and then flittering off whenever they’re asked to be an equal contributor.
But the biggest complaint I hear isn’t even about the unequal distribution of labor: It’s about the fact that non-commital men make it impossible for women to plan for the future. When a man won’t commit, a woman can’t plan, and we women LOVE to plan!
Maybe you want to move to be closer to your sister and your nieces and nephews. You’d love for your kids to grow up near their cousins like you did, and you don’t have any reliable childcare in your current city. But your boyfriend lives with you 75% of the time and when he’s there, he says he wants to be with you forever. He’s against moving because his job is in the city. Do you stay or do you go?
Or maybe the best move for your career is to take a promotion, but that’s going to require you to go back to school. You can afford to do it, but you’re going to need to stop going through a painful breakup every month of you’ll never get through the program.
It is okay to be pissed off.
It’s not fair. And anger is how our emotions react to us being treated unfairly.
The Six Types of Non-Commital Men
There are six primary reasons that a man won’t commit to a relationship or to marriage. These are:
- Lack of Desire
- Fear of Pain
- Fear of Failure
- Prior Commitments
The selfish man is only thinking of himself. From his perspective, he feels that he has a good thing going, so why rock the boat?
Signs You Have a Selfish Type
The selfish type will say things like:
- Our relationship is fine the way it is.
- Why are you always complaining? I think our relationship is fine.
- Why do you want to change things?
The selfish type may try to manipulate your emotions by saying things like:
- You always complain. Am I really that bad to you?
- You act like I’m some terrible abuser or something.
- What about what I want? Don’t my feelings matter?
The selfish type is the least likely to run away when things get bad, although he may if you get really pushy about asking for a commitment. He tends to be avoidant when you start asking for a commitment, so he’ll do things like staying late at work or just ignoring you while being in the same house with you.
This type is usually (but not always) younger than you, and is usually (but not always) less financially secure than you are or less progressed in their career than you. After you give them an ultimatum or after you have a fight, they’re likely to “apologize” by paying more attention to you but avoiding the issue of commitment.
How to Handle a Selfish Type
Cut them off. You can try cutting them off little by little, or you can cut them off entirely. However, keep in mind that cutting them off does run the risk that they’ll simply move on and find someone else to mooch off of.
This is to inform you that your current subscription option [Boyfriend+] will no longer be available as of June 1. You may upgrade to the Fiance subscription plan prior to June 1 to avoid an interruption to services, or you will be downgraded to the Boyfriend subscription if you take no action.
If you upgrade to the Fiance subscription plan, you will need to pay the subscription fee of one (1) engagement ring no later than July 1 in order to continue your services uninterrupted. Please keep in mind that the Fiance subscription is limited to ten (10) months, after which time you must upgrade to the Husband subscription. The Husband subscription is a lifetime membership which does not expire.
The Fiance subscription plan will allow all of your current services to continue uninterrupted. If you take no action, you will be downgraded to the Boyfriend plan. This plan will no longer include access to the Shacking Up benefit, and your Emotional Support and Home-Cooked Meal credits will no longer be unlimited.
Thank you for your loyal membership. We look forward to serving you in the future.With the selfish type, sometimes you have to withhold benefits until they are willing to play ball.
The indecisive man is frequently leaving and coming back. When he’s with you, he’s effusive in his affection. He loves you and probably wants to marry you. He talks about wedding plans. A week later, he says he never wants to see you again.
Signs You Have an Indecisive Type
The indecisive type will usually be indecisive in other areas of life, not just your relationship. He may have a series of jobs that he’s left after a short period of time. He has a lot of unfinished projects in his past.
The indecisive type says things like:
- I don’t know how you can expect me to know how I’m going to feel a year from now.
- It’s not fair to make me decide something so important without [insert excuse here].
- I don’t know, honey, where do you want to go?
The indecisive type is a master of gaslighting. Gaslighting happens when someone tries to convince you that your emotions aren’t real. Since the indecisive man’s emotions change so frequently, he’ll often try to convince you that you did something to cause his emotions to change, even when you didn’t.
For example, let’s say that the two of you have an argument. You say, “I just want you to let me know if you’re going to be late so I won’t worry.” He storms out, comes back two days later, and re-starts the argument. But he insists that you told him that he had to tell you where he was going whenever he wasn’t at work, and THAT is why he got so angry. At first, that’s not how you remember the argument going. But as this new conversation progresses, he recounts the previous argument back to you, re-telling the story with different phrasing and a few different times. A half-hour later, you’re apologizing for being so controlling and saying, “I never should’ve asked you to tell me where you were going.”
How to Handle an Indecisive Type
You have three options here. The first is to tell him that the next time he leaves, he’d better not come back. But it’s a pretty good bet that he’s going to leave again, and then you’ll have to enforce that. Giving him an ultimatum like that usually means that you’re breaking up with him.
Which brings us to the second option: Encourage him to get some treatment. Remember how I said earlier that usually the indecisive type is indecisive in ALL the areas of their life? It’s not uncommon for the indecisive type to have undiagnosed or poorly treated ADHD or some other neurodivergence that is legitimately causing difficulties for them in every aspect of their life. Maybe it’s just them being a jerk. But in some cases, there may be a legitimate neurodiversity issue that can be better managed and controlled.
Then we get to the third option: Prepare to move quickly, and move fast. Wait until the next time that he’s in a super lovey-dovey mood, then pounce. Tell him how romantic it would be to secretly elope. Go to the courthouse, get the marriage license, go to the Justice of the Peace, and get the paperwork done. You can plan your dream wedding for later. Lock him down when he’s in the mood, then worry about the dream wedding.
He has a Lack of Desire
You’ll see this one phrased as, “He’s just not that into you,” but it’s actually a lot more than that. Men that fall into this category often view dating and marriage as two entirely separate things. When a man won’t commit for this reason, it’s because he doesn’t view you as a “wife”.
Signs he has a lack of desire
Men with this subtype are often quite old-fashioned. They may come from a background or culture that practices (or has practiced until quite recently) some form of arranged marriage. Even if they grew up in a thoroughly Western culture, if their background is more conservative or if they have people in their family who may have had arranged marriages, they may fall into this subtype.
Another subset of the lack of desire men are men from higher-income families. Men from these families may have been expected to marry into certain other upper-crust families. Any time that a man has had family expectations of marriage and views marriage as a matter of family business, he may fall under this category.
Men who fall into this category may say:
- But you’re my girlfriend. Why would you want to get married?
- Marriage is for old men. I like what we’ve got now.
- I like being your boyfriend.
- I’m committed to you now. I don’t need a wedding ring just to prove that I’m committed to you.
They may use distraction to deter arguments about commitment. It’s likely in cases like this that you may be younger than them, although this is not always the case. It’s common for you to be less educated than they are, but this is not universal.
One of the most common signs: He refuses to introduce you to any of his family members, and usually won’t introduce you to his friends. This isn’t universal; it happens sometimes with other categories and there are some men in this category who will do introductions, but it’s extremely common with this group.
How to Handle the Lack of Desire
This one is very hard to manage, because the core issue is that he doesn’t think you would be acceptable to his family. Often, the reason has nothing to do with you as a person. It has to do with the family of your birth, with your previous relationships, or even with your race, religion, skin color, hair color, ethnicity, or eye color.
I tell my clients here: “Do you want to be his mistress?” That’s what happens to the girlfriends of men like this. They will eventually marry a woman that’s suitable to their families, and their girlfriends become their mistresses.
If you’re okay with being a mistress, you do need to have an open conversation with your boyfriend about what that looks like. As a mistress, you’ll never be acknowledged publicly as his partner, but there is usually an expectation for him to provide you with financial support. You may have children with him (this will have to be negotiated), and you may even have a lifelong relationship with him – albeit one that’s in secret. You won’t receive his life insurance or his estate, but he may have set up a trust for you before he dies, and you’ll need to make sure you’re protected in any event.
You can have a committed relationship with him as his mistress, and it can be a lifelong relationship, but it’s very hard to overcome this particular issue and ever win the “wife” position.
Fear of Pain
Men in this category are afraid that you will hurt them. They tend to place emotional distance between you and them, and they pull away whenever they start to feel vulnerable.
Signs that he is afraid of pain
Men that are non-commital due to fear of pain may say:
- I’ve been hurt too many times before
- I’m scared that you’re going to hurt me
- I don’t want to wind up divorced and alone
- Men always get screwed over when they get divorced
- There’s no advantage for men in getting married
- How do I know you’re not going to change after we get married?
They may bring up stories they’ve heard from friends or family members. These stories usually involve a painful or messy breakup and will often involve a man who lost custody of his children. They’ll tell stories of a man paying child support on his kids but another man is raising them and he doesn’t even get to see them anymore.
Alternatively, they may tell their own stories of how badly they got “screwed over” by their ex-girlfriend or ex-wife. Another common theme is having their ex-girlfriend take the dog in a breakup and they never got to see their dog again.
These men like to use emotional manipulation tactics like guilt trips and amplifying. For example, you say, “Hey, you left the back door open again. The dog could get out. You need to make sure the door is latched when you go out to smoke.”
They reply: “Seriously? You’re gonna get on my case for ONE LITTLE MISTAKE?! I swear to God, you’re just like my ex, Cynthia! I can’t do anything right, RIGHT?! All you ever do is criticize and complain! You don’t care about me. You NEVER cared about me, did you? All your lies and all you do is try to hurt me. Don’t even care about me, do you? You act like I never do anything for you!”
This type of emotional manipulation over very small issues makes you stop bringing up problems. Over time, you simply stop asking him to fix any problems, from leaving the back door open to putting his socks in the hamper.
Not all men with this fear are so manipulative, but if a Fear of Pain is going to manipulate, this is a common tactic.
How to Handle a Fear of Pain
Fear of Pain men are usually handled by building trust. Sometimes, this just takes a little more time. But building trust isn’t done by giving in to his every demand.
You see, if you had plans to go to a baby shower with your sister and he has a hissy fit about you going out without him, you may think that the best thing to do would be to cancel your outing with your sister. After all, staying home with him will show him that his feelings matter to you, right? But that’s actually the opposite thing to do if your goal is to build trust.
By cancelling your outing, you showed him that he was right – that there WAS something to fear. Instead, you should tell him, “I’m very sorry that you’re having a hard time with this. I’m going to the baby shower, but I will be back at 4 PM.” Then, make sure that you DO get back on time.
Be impeccable with your word. Be reasonable with what you choose to do. But do not give in to his unreasonable fears.
One important note: Fear of Pain men are sometimes volatile. One of the things they fear is being out of control. If you use this tactic and your man is a Controlling man instead of a Fear of Pain man, this can trigger violence. Exercise caution, and seek help at the first sign of abuse (even if it’s only mental or emotional abuse). Mental and emotional abuse can escalate to dangerous physical abuse, so exercise caution.
Fear of Failure
Where the Fear of Pain man fears that you will hurt him, the Fear of Failure man fears that he will hurt you. He has usually had some failed relationships in the past, and some of his exes have probably told him that they were breaking up with him because of some flaw he had. This probably stuck with him, and now he’s afraid to commit to you because he’s afraid he’ll harm you in some way.
Signs of a Fear of Failure Man
Fear of Failure men may say things like:
- I’m broken/damaged/cursed
- Stay away from me; I’m poisonous/toxic/evil
- I always hurt the people I care about
- Everything I touch turns to shit
Fear of Failure men frequently have dysfunctional relationships with their mothers. A typical background for a Fear of Failure man may look like this:
- Has a younger brother about 2-4 years younger than him who was always the family’s designated “screwup”, but because that brother was the baby of the family, he always got away with it
- Mom and Dad got divorced shortly after the baby was born.
- Fear of Failure Man (FoFM) idolized his mother and tried to be the “Man of the House”, but his mother largely ignored him. His mother placed a lot of responsibility on him but failed to acknowledge when he did well. She only really noticed him when he did something wrong. Meanwhile, she lavished praise on the baby of the family no matter what he did.
- The Dad was around for visitation until the FoFM was about 7-9, but then mostly disappeared. FoFM never had a close relationship with his dad, though.
- FoFM usually got fairly decent grades in school, probably As & Bs, but not straight-As. He was probably involved in activities like ROTC, Drill Team, computer club, or band, but usually not involved in sports. He probably had an after-school job as soon as he was old enough to work.
Fear of Failure men won’t hit everything on this list, but you’ll see enough similarities to notice a pattern emerging.
Handling the Fear of Failure Man
With the Fear of Failure man, the way to handle it is to prove your strength. For this type of non-commital man, you have to love him through it.
FoFM usually have one trait that can make handling them easier than some of the other types on this list: They usually have a strong belief in informed consent, even when it is not in a person’s best interest. From their perspective, they have done a lot of things in their life that were not in their OWN best interest, but that benefitted their mother or little brother or someone else they cared about. Thus, they will often respect your right to make a decision that is not in your best interest IF they believe that you are giving informed consent.
This may seem very formalized. They want to know that you truly know and understand all the “bad things” about them and that you are actually consenting to all the terrible things that go along with them. It usually takes the form of an almost ritualized verbal consent.
One caution with these men: Once you give your consent – in their eyes – you are in for the ride. To them, once you consent, you get all of them, bad and good. They don’t generally divorce once they commit.
Some men won’t commit to your relationship because they feel that it would conflict with commitments they’ve already made. Usually these men will be upfront about telling you what commitments it conflicts with, but it may not always make sense.
Signs of a Prior Commitment Type
For men of this type, the prior commitment isn’t always another wife. They may feel tied to prior commitments like:
- a parent, or an agreement made to a parent
- a job or career path
- children from a previous marriage
- an ideology, like being childfree
- an identity, like, “I love to travel”, that they feel would conflict with marriage
- a pet
- a place, like a family estate or home
- a belief, like a religion or philosophy
How to Handle Prior Commitment Men
There are some situations where you may be able to wait until the commitment ends. For example, if a man cannot remarry because he doesn’t want to upset his children from a previous marriage, he may see an end date to that commitment. He may say, “I can’t remarry while my children are still under 18 because my ex-wife won’t let me see them if I do.” In that case, you may be able to walk him down the aisle when his youngest child turns 18.
In some situations, you may be able to convince him that his prior commitment does not, in fact, conflict with marriage. Don’t try this unless it’s actually true! For example, let’s say that he holds to an ideology like being childfree. He doesn’t want to marry because he has committed himself to having no children. If you, also, are childfree, you can discuss this with him. He could marry you without compromising his childfree beliefs. But if having children is important to you, then the two of you are incompatible.
If their prior commitment is truly incompatible with the commitment you want them to make to you, then it is best to part as friends. If you do succeed in persuading them to abandon their prior commitment for you, will you ever truly respect them? How can you trust their commitment to you if they were so easy to persuade away from their previous commitments? And how can you be sure they won’t resent you for persuading them to abandon something that was so important to them?
No, this is one of those situations where it’s best to walk away. If he’s that easy to persuade, he’s too spineless to ever make a good husband anyway.
Will He Ever Commit?
The hard answer is, It depends.
While we’ve examined a lot of different reasons for his hesitance, the truth is that your situation may be unique, and there are usually a lot of different factors at play. If you want a one-on-one psychic reading to look at your specific situation, you can book it here.
If you’d like to learn more about these non-commital men and what you can do about it, I’ve put together a free webinar to help you understand and capture these slippery fellows.