A Commitment Phobe that Appears Selfish Could Just be too Nice!

If you are a woman that feels like you have been jerked around by a committment phobe (allow me to use CP for short) only to have the CP run away at some point may have a hard time thinking of him as nice. However, bear with me for a bit and let me share a hypothetical, well slightly anyway, possible sequence of events in a relationship. 

Let’s say you meet a CP and he seems engaging and attractive to you. Let’s also say that he knows enough to ask you what you want from a relationship on your first date. Thinking it is too early to get very specific you say that you want someone you can have a future with. As you might guess that was exactly the wrong thing to say to a CP because his notion of what future means may be a lot different than what you intended. 

So the relationship progresses naturally for several months without any commitment pressure and you are both happy. The CP is particularly happy because he can live in the moment and plan day to day.  However, you might start feeling a little uncomfortable about where the relationship is going and decide it is time for what is commonly called “the talk.”

During this conversation you disclose that your ultimate goal is to get married. The CP doesn’t like disappointing people since he was raised to be nice so he simply responds by saying something like he could see himself getting married under the right circumstances. 

That conversation was a game changer for the CP. Now instead of going along day to day he has to evaluate if you are right for each other and if he can get married. The pressure is on and he becomes much more vigilant. 

For example the CP begins to notice that you are often unhappy with things he does. Maybe he was distracted and wasn’t listening to you when you thought he should have been and you criticized him.  Another time he might have asked for time alone when you wanted to take a walk together and it resulted in an argument. Other similar things occurred which to you were not major items but if the CP has memories from childhood that has resulted in him equating an unhappy woman with an unhappy marriage it is enough to cause great concern.

So finally the CP realizes that he must do the right thing and he breaks up with you. To you this has come out of the blue and it creates an emotional reaction. You cry and call him several times per day. You tell him that you thought he loved you. You don’t understand why he thought that you were unhappy. 

The CP, being the nice guy he is, feels guilt and remorse. He never wanted to hurt you like this so he agrees to keep trying. 

However it still seems like to him that you are never completely happy and he knows that he is doing his best. Because of his vigilance he may notice other things that he might consider fatal flaws. Some of those things could make him uncomfortable if he brought them up to you directly so he keeps them to himself. 

In any event the net result is that he doesn’t feel comfortable enough to overcome his resistance to marriage but he also doesn’t like the trauma related to breaking up. The relationship survives on shaky ground for a while but ultimately it is just too much for both and the relationship dissolves. 

When reflecting on the relationship you are confused as to why it didn’t work and conclude that the CP was selfish and didn’t truly care about you.  The CP feels badly but he thinks he did the best he could do but he didn’t want to marry you if you were going to be unhappy or if he just wasn’t comfortable. 

One thing I have noticed is that the selection of the right relationship partner is hard under any circumstances. It is particularly hard to know what is truly motivating someone to do the things he or she does. We hope for open communications but often that is not enough for us to ever truly know someone. Unfortunately that is all we have so all we can really do is to be open and honest about what we are thinking and feeling at any point in time.  It is important to remember that what is uncomfortable in the present moment may prevent greater discomfort later. 


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