Is it Peter Pan Syndrome, fear of commitment, or something more? Here are 5 observations about the man who won’t commit.
It seems like for quite a while there was a spat of movies about men who wouldn’t commit. Whether it was a movie about a long engagement (or one literally called The Long Engagement), about a single mum being left by some deadbeat dad (like Where The Heart Is), or some brooding superhero who’s too into his crime fighting to be present (looking at you, Batman… and Spiderman… Superman… all the mans I guess).
That seems to have died down in the last 5 years or so, but what hasn’t died down is the level of frustration that comes from mainly women about the men who won’t commit in their lives.
The lack of commitment is called gamophobia (there you go). While there aren’t many thorough studies on percentages of people who fear commitment, you only need to take one internet search (like you probably are right now) or one night out with the girls to realise that it’s a pretty common experience for many women.
I’m not here to argue with you. While I do argue there are many committed and faithful men out there, I also agree that there are many a man who won’t commit. I’ve seen too many women hurt or hung up on the shadow of a promise, and too many families impacted by the man who leaves of his own accord. A lot of men even like to joke about it at the pub, the office, the social circle as if it’s a badge of honour.
And so he’s been around for a few months and won’t let himself be called your boyfriend. You’ve been dating for a number of years and he’s not content to take it any further. No rings in sight, no sign of being interested in the future, happy with the way things are. Not involved with the kids and runs away any time there’s something to do. And after you’ve requested more from him, he’s still stringing you along all the way.
I am a big believer in commitment. And I would love to see every man who fears it comes to a sense of strength about his own ability to stay and support the ones he says he loves. Here are 5 of my observations of the man who won’t commit.
#1: He probably didn’t have a good example
I’ve seen it to be true of almost every man who won’t commit that he himself didn’t have a good example to follow. The first example and the primary example all men look to is their father, and the stats on fatherlessness are brutal. 71% of high school dropouts, 90% of all homeless and runaways, 75% of rapists and substance abusers didn’t have their dad.
And then we expect this man with no example to be able to be a good dad or husband himself.
And if dad did stay, what was he like? Was he an alcoholic? Was he an abuser? Was he a passive aggressive spender of all the money? Was he brave and bold and clear with his affection, or did he hide his love away? Did he follow through and be true to his word, or was he about as dependable as a plank of rotting wood?
This is not a cop out for bad behaviour, otherwise we perpetuate a cycle of dysfunction forever. Just an observation worth calling out that we should check a man’s examples if he’s still in a holding pattern.
#2: And he probably didn’t go looking for one
As rough as it is not having a good male example in your life, it is completely on us to go looking for what we didn’t have. And fortunately there are plenty of great examples in our lives as well as beyond them of good, committed men who’ve made a difference in their world and families and are worth following.
If we’re still using the example we had or didn’t have as a cop out, we’re failing as men. Sorry if that’s brutal, but look around you. Look at the relationships you’ve broken off. Look at the people you’ve been hurting. Look at the ones who thought that could depend on you but you took them for a ride.
You are now the man you hated.
I really liked John Maxwell’s Minute With Maxwell on finding mentors. Give this a look if this is an area you’re struggling with.
But have an honest think about the men you’ve admired. Why not meet up with them and get some advice?
#3: Throwing more commitment at him won’t make him stay
Babies don’t make them stay. Guilt tripping them doesn’t make them stay. Heeding to their every whim doesn’t make them stay.
I’ve been sad to watch so many people have a man in their life who is kind of sticking around, saying enough of the right things, attending enough of the right events, and one of these bigger attempts to get him to stay is used.
And he still leaves. Usually during the pregnancy. Or after the first request for accountability. Or after he ends up getting his “whims” met from someone else.
Why is that? Because responsibility has to be proven in small things first, and people are as faithful with the big as they are with the small.
That’s why I think it’s so important to be honest about how a man treats the “small things”. How is he earning $60000 a year? That’s how he’ll be on $300000 a year. How is he with you when it’s just you two? How is he when there’s no sex on the table? How is he when he doesn’t get what he wants for a while?
Faithful in little, faithful in much. Please please please, make him prove it first. Men who avoid commitment are like cats who’ve been thrown in the pool and instantly try to leap out. But men who have proven themselves in the trenches of fulfilling their purpose will rise to the challenge. And in fact they often bravely make up the extra slack for the man who left.
Follow that TikTok challenge. He’s a 10, but he can’t commit: 0
More on that in Why Men Need Purpose, Direction, and Income and The Men Who Stay and The Men Who Leave
#4: He’s probably getting all he wants from you already
If he’s sticking around but not fully committing, it’s very likely the man who won’t commit doesn’t think he needs to.
Why? Because he’s probably already getting everything he wants from you.
If you’re already putting out, running errands for him, taking out his emotional trash, and cleaning up after him now, why’s he need to do any more?
He doesn’t. Cause you’ll still blow his… mind. You’ll still bend over backwards. You’ll still give him 100% even though he isn’t meeting you anywhere near halfway.
I think this is sadly why there are guys out there with multiple women on the go. They’re immature, and they’re enabled to be so.
I would love to challenge you on your worth. You are worthwhile. You are worth loving. You are worth someone giving their best. Why would you settle for someone who is never going to really choose you? The fear of rejection will inevitably lead to more rejection.
You are cherished beyond all words. You don’t need to live merely in the shadow of what you want.
“Well, he’s all I deserve”
Nonsense. Absolutely nonsense. Who told you that? You are worth far more than words can express. You were born with purpose and value and to see those dreams fulfilled. Lift your head and see who you really are. Once you do, you’ll never allow yourself to be pulled along like a puppet again.
#5: He needs to count the cost and be able to afford it
Here’s the thing about true masculinity – it’s about responsibility. The late Myles Munroe observed about the first man in Scripture that in his completely ideal state, he was meant to be working. He put forward that to work is to manifest your true self, and to become who you really are.
Are you working, my friend? Are you becoming who you are meant to be?
Many a man who won’t commit simply hasn’t thought about how much what he wants will cost him. And for the ones who’ve thought about it, they’ve decided they’re not going to be able to afford it.
But here’s the thing guys – you have great potential. To earn money, to work hard, to apply yourself, to make a difference.
The absolute best book I’ve read on masculinity is The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge. He points out through multiple examples that at all stages of a man’s journey, he is supposed to grow to learn the limits of his strength, and to use that strength for others. That at the true height of a man’s masculinity is a king who is using his power, his wealth, his strength, his insight, his gifts, for others.
Jesus said that there was no greater love that a man could have than to lay down his life for his friends.
I firmly believe if you want to be the man, you need to be the ultimate servant. To serve your girlfriend, your wife, your family, your kids, your community. Not to be a doormat, but to carry a servant heart into every interaction and every arena you find yourself in. More in To The Man Who Wants To Be The Head of the House
Who are you living for? Yourself? Your next paycheck? Your next holiday? Your little empire? Or are you about the world around you? Loving that woman who God has put in your life? Looking after the family in your care? Building and developing yourself to be the man who you’ve been called to be?
You are more than capable, my friend. That’s why everyone else gets so frustrated. Because all of us know your true potential. We believe you can be that man. So be that man.
It’s really difficult when you have in your life a man who won’t commit. But I hope if you’ve been him or you love him that you’ve been able to take stock on where you’re at and where to go from here.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.