Would you stay with someone you knew you would never commit to you? Many wouldn’t. But still, it can be hard to leave someone you really like, especially if you hold onto that hope that eventually they will commit. If you feel like you still want to give your partner a chance, even though they clearly aren’t ready to fully commit themselves to you, here are nine expert-approved way on how to handle it.
Ask What Their Relationship Goals Are
Commitment-phobes tend to have a lot of short-term relationships and are serial daters. So, you should definitely ask what their relationship goals are, and also be clear what your goals are, suggests professional matchmaker and dating coach Carmelia Ray, who also stars on Myx TV’s Mom vs. Matchmaker. “You have to see if you’re aligned. The challenge with posing this kind of question is you may get an extremely vague response or they might skillfully change the subject.”
Give Yourself a Timeline
Since a commitment-phobe is perfectly happy keeping the relationship at the honeymoon stage for as long as possible, YOU need to establish your own timeline in which you’re willing to wait around or notice the relationship progress, says Ray. “Notice if your relationship actually feels like a commitment versus a part-time thing. If your partner tries to prolong a never-ending courting process, it’s time to move on.”
Make Sure Your Own Needs are Met
It’s not surprising commitment-phobes are afraid of commitment in other areas of their life and this reluctance isn’t exclusive to you and your relationship. “Commitment-phobes often move to the beat to their own drum and are not overly concerned with the impact of their aloof attitude on others,” says Ray. “This kind of behavior provides evidence they have selfish tendencies. The best thing you can do is to always be sure your needs are being met inside the relationship. A relationship is a two-way street and if all the effort is one-sided, it’s clearly time to move on or reassess unless you’re OK with the constant disappointments.”
Don’t Rush Them
If you truly love them and want to stay with them, you honestly do have to wait, says millennial dating expert and host of the We Met At Acme podcast, Lindsey Metselaar. “Lead by example and show them how rewarding it is to commit to people and to things. When they do offer you a commitment, even if it’s just a dinner, be appreciate of it. Know that you’re dealing with someone who has issues, and you have to be mindful of them or leave and find someone who loves commitment.”
Give Them Space
If your commitment-phobe boyfriend or girlfriend only hangs out when it’s convenient for them and never seems to initiate dates, Ray suggests backing off a bit. “My advice is to give your commitment-phobe some space, and allow them to reach out to you to make plans. Pulling back is often a great way to tell if they have any desire to make any sort of effort to stay in communication with you,” she says. And, if you don’t like that they’ve waited over two weeks or longer to reach out, it’s time to re-evaluate whether you want to be their last priority.
Try and Get Them to Open Up More
“Many commitment-phobes are phobic about commitments based on negative past experiences or having been badly burned in the past from an ex,” says Ray. Underlying their fear of commitment is the FEAR of getting hurt. “A great way to deal with someone who may have been burned in the past or hasn’t had much of an example of a healthy relationship is to work on deeper and more open communication. Engaging in thought-provoking conversation, free of judgment, criticism and having a great deal of patience will be required to help your commitment-phobe to have a breakthrough.”
Avoid Nagging Them About It
If you continue with the “why can’t you commit” nagging, you will likely end up pushing them even further away. Metselaar says sometimes, you have to let them bring it up naturally because they’re the one with the phobia. Of course, this takes a lot of patience. “If you’re frustrated and really need to have that conversation, then tell them to come back to you when they’re ready to discuss it.”
Understand That They May Never Commit
Signs that your partner may never commit can present themselves in the beginning of relationship and often we like to think that we can change them. But most often, we can’t. And if you do convince them to commit, there are no guarantees the relationship will even be a healthy one. “As long as you’re not having tunnel vision and too blinded by love, you’ll be able to determine whether the person is worth the headache,” says Metselaar.
Don’t Give Up Your Own Life
If you’re dealing with a commitment-phobe, it’s even more important to not distance yourself from your friends. “Doing things without your CP partner shows them that they aren’t walking into a point of no return [when committing to you]. A real phobe needs to know that the walls aren’t closing in on them,” says Metselaar. In other words, it shows that even though they’re committed to you, they won’t feel suffocated.