commitment phobia

Why are men afraid to commit to relationships?

An article in Yahoo News titled Mating game: Too much choice will leave you lonely cited a research study of the dynamics of speed dating. The results of the study suggested that, “increasing option variety leads to chooser confusion. People are more likely to choose no-one at all when faced with greater variety.” Welcome to the Upper West Side of Manhattan! I could have saved these chaps (they’re British) a lot of time and effort. Having lived there for close to 2 decades, I can say pretty confidently that too many choices definitely doesn’t make committing to one easy.

What is Commitment Phobia?

What does being a “commitment phoebe” really mean? Why would someone be afraid to commit to something?

Without getting into sophisticated psychological factors or theories (I am not a psychologist or therapist), I think the main reason a person will resist committing to something is because he is afraid of missing out on something better that might come along. Of course, another reason might be that he is afraid of failing, but I’ll deal with that in another post. For today, let’s focus on the “afraid of missing out on something better” theory.

This “fear of missing out” is based on reality. If you decide to commit to something, you might very well miss out on something better. If you commit to buying the current model of your favorite automobile, you can be sure that a newer model will be coming out in less than a year (at most). If you commit to buying the latest ipad, you must be aware that a newer model with more features is probably just around the corner. Because of this, some people hold off on buying the current model. Some people never end up getting it. Most people, however, decide to buy now because they need it now, regardless of what might happen in the future.

Cars and ipads are interesting, but let’s face it, you can pretty easily trade in or sell your car or ipad, or even just buy a second one. Marriage is (supposed to be) forever. That’s a heck of a lot scarier. Let’s see how this plays out in a real life example.

Commitment Phoebe – Example 1

Abe is a 38 yr. old, single, good looking, successful professional living on the UWS. His social life is thriving. He sees eligible women at various neighborhood venues on a regular basis, even just walking on the street. He often considers going out with some of them, and spends a huge amount of time analyzing (alone and with the help of a few single guys) the pros and cons of doing so. He gets really close to making a decision to go for it, but there’s always something about each girl that stops him. One has the right personality but is a bit too short, another is tall but a bit too “curvy”, another is almost there, but there’s something that he just can’t put his finger on that just doesn’t quite make it work for him.

Is Abe worried? Not at all, because he’s confident that he’ll meet new women in a week or 2 (or maybe a month or 2) that might have exactly what he’s looking for. He knows they’re out there. He’s got a few friends that married them, and he’s seen a few dating guys he knows.

He’s even met some of them himself, but for some reason they were just not interested in dating him. But the next one he meets will definitely be ready. The One. It’s just a matter of time. So, why tie himself down to someone who isn’t his “perfect” choice and give up his big chance to meet the girl of his dreams?

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Commitment Phoebe – Example 2

Scott’s situation is a bit different. He actually dates girls that fit just about all of his fantasy criteria, because the girls think he’s the catch of the century (tall, handsome, suave, wealthy, successful). The fact that he’s 42 doesn’t even matter to them; he’s THAT good. Scott is a great dater. He’s caring, nurturing, serious minded, and often speaks about settling down and having kids.

Unfortunately, after anywhere from 1 to 3 months into the dating relationship, Scott goes cold, losing interest faster than a non performing mortgage note. Suddenly, often abruptly, he’s out. It just doesn’t feel right, he just can’t go through with it, just just just just….you get the idea. Soon after, while his ex is still crying her eyes out on her therapist’s couch, Scott is back in the game, going out with another beautiful victim, clueless to her almost certain fate.

The Take Away

Their stories are a bit different but I think their problem is the same. Abe and Scott are both afraid of committing to a woman NOW, for fear of missing out on someone better (where better is defined by their warped fantasy image of female perfection). They don’t understand that there is no such thing as perfect. The girls that they see who seem to be perfect really aren’t. They have faults like the rest of us, that would come to the fore in a relationship. But that doesn’t really matter because in their minds, Abe and Scott clearly visualize perfection, and they’re not willing to give that vision up for reality.

Assuming that Abe and Scott really do want to get married, you would think that at their age they would accept their reality and take the leap of faith to holy matrimony. If they lived in a place like Omaha, Nebraska, with an extremely limited pool of eligible Jewish bachelorettes, I truly believe that they would.

But they don’t live in Omaha, they live on the UWS of Manhattan where thousands of single woman (new ones every week) gather to find their basherts. They’re all over the place and easy to meet. So much hope, so much promise, so little reason to commit to anyone other than the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue fantasy model image ingrained into the imagination of so many nice, and delusional, single Jewish boys whose Mama’s trained them to always ONLY settle for the very best.

Abe and Scott will remain single until they decide that getting married NOW is more important than perpetuating the fantasy that they will one day meet a woman that will make them regret their marriage decision. They might remain single forever. Lots of men and women seem to have made a commitment to their fantasies instead of to their potential spouse.

Is there a solution to this commitment phobia?

I’ll suggest two for now.

1) Get out of town…literally, get out of the city and spend time in a community or place where the multitude of options just don’t exist. Go to a place filled with married couple. Really feel the need to get a move on with your marriage ambitions – – NOW.

2) Train your mind to make believe that you have no options. You can do that in the discomfort of your own home. Assume that the one you’re with is the last one on earth. Would you rather spend the rest of your life alone? If your answer is still yes, then you’re either with the wrong person or you need to see a trained psychotherapist, or…you really either don’t want to get married or don’t understand what marriage is all about.

My guess is that by focusing on who you’re with instead of who you could be with will give you a much healthier perspective and help you move towards that Chupah real soon.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you have a “commitment phobe” encounter or experience that you’d like to share? Now’s your chance!

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5 replies
  1. B
    B says:

    I disagree to an extent. I live in a location with very few young single observant Jews. I am a 25 yr old attractive girl (or so I hear) getting a masters degree and I am ready to get married. But, because I am observant and there are almost no single observant guys around my age, I remain single. Which, yes, does bring me back to your post on distance and whether the guy is willing to travel. But ultimately, fewer options does not always equate to less distraction. Maybe you need a happy medium?


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  1. […] 4. There are so many potential mates out there that you just can’t commit to any single one, so you end up with none. Too many choices. […]

  2. […] that they do want to get married, but only to someone who matches the level of perfection in every way that they imagine they deserve? Is it possible that they’d rather remain single than marry someone who they […]

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