General Dating Questions/Commitment phobe


Hi Dennis,

I could really use some dating insight here as my boyfriend wanted to break up with me yesterday. But then he took it back...

I’ve been dating him for almost 3 years now. We met at college and he pursued me for almost a year. He would find me every morning just to say hello. He would come sit with me at meal times to talk. He’d compliment me everyday on my outfit, my hair, basically anything new he’d notice.

He started the whole dating thing by taking things slow. We dated 2 months before he even kissed me and he was a nervous wreck whilst doing it because he told me he’d liked me for so long.  I thought he was so sweet and felt like I’d found a really genuine guy.

He frequently talks about marriage and having kids. He showed me the church he wants us to get married in. He asked if I could change to his religion so we can get married there. He’s asked how many kids I wanted and picked out their names. We drive around sometimes for hours on end just looking at houses and he’ll ask me to pick out my dream house.

That’s why when he dropped the bomb that he wanted to break up I had an out of body experience. He said that he just couldn’t do it anymore and we were going in different directions. He said he’s not ready for commitment or to settle down and that there are so many things he still wants to experience in life before being locked in to a mortgage, marriage and kids.

I reminded him that every conversation we’ve had about those things has been started by him. I’ve never brought it up myself because I thought men run a mile if you do (I was kind of right I guess). Then he started using every excuse he could think of as to why we couldn’t work out. From “you’re too reliant on me for company” followed by “you’re too independent and we don’t do enough activities together”… It just seemed like he was grasping at straws.

After an hour of talking he suddenly snapped back to his normal self and apologised profusely. Which he has been doing for the last 24 hours, and now he’s going in the complete opposite direction and talking about moving in together.

But I’m still confused what on earth just happened? Do men normally freak out like this about commitment? Should I expect him to do this again in the future or was this “the talk” that sorts it all out? I feel too scared to even wonder near these topics again with him now!

Hello Tessa!

Are you asking me about "most men" or your boyfriend? These are two very different answers!

I can give you general male perspectives but I can't read your boyfriend's mind in order to tell you what's going on. You're far closer to him than I am - and even you don't know what he's thinking! Doesn't that tell you something right there?

It seems to me that this is hugely one-sided. He's gone to the ends of the earth to show you how he felt about you and you've sucked it up. What have you done other than to try to not make him feel uncomfortable? I believe therein lays your answer.

Let me offer this:

Modern men aren't "commitment phobic" as so many would have you believe. The reality is that many men have simply given up on commitment with women. We see daily barrages of guilt- and fear-based messages that men should "man up" and get married or move things to the next step when the reality is that very few women are even worthy of that from men.

Consider that marriage for men is a very bad choice in most cases. Men lose respect and status when they get married. They take on responsibilities and stress. They take on huge risks while losing freedom, opportunity, sex and choice, etc.

It's important to understand this when you think about modern marriage or even "commitment" in any form. Specifically, what have you done to be worthy of him taking on those negative things to give you the positive things you want and expect? It appears that he's attracted to you but that simply isn't enough to keep a marriage going.

Perhaps that reality is beginning to sink in for him?

Tessa, I'm going somewhere here and I hope you've read this far. I believe that your answers (and any woman who is looking for them) are in understanding these points clearly. The reason is that I've never met a man that was getting everything he ever wanted and needed that was fearful of commitment - even in small bouts.

I have a big concern about your relationship at this point as it seems terribly one-sided. Yes, I know you can list things you've done for him as well but the very fact that you're scared of talking to him clearly about these things raises huge red flags. If you two were clients that's the very first thing I'd be dealing with. I think it's what you need to deal with right away.

Why would you be uncomfortable talking to him about these things as though you'd scare him off? The very likely answer is that you've realized what I've said so far is true - that the scales of value and benefit don't balance. You're afraid of scaring him off because he doesn't (yet) clearly see that lack of balance and talking about it will bring out that fact.

At this point you're relying solely on his impressions - not specifically on balancing the scales. What would happen if you spent the next six months really discovering what he wanted and needed rather than simply letting him do all the work to sell you? What would happen if you figured these things out and became the woman of his dreams and proved to him that he would never lose that girl - even after marriage? Do you really think he'd hesitate or get cold feet like this ever again?

Of course not.

I can't tell you specifically what's going through his head, but trust me, he's becoming aware of any imbalances. This is the perfect time to start righting that scale if you're committed to a future with him.

Best regards...

Dr. Dennis W. Neder
CEO/Executive Producer
BAM! Productions
Remington Publications
Producers: "BAM! TV" and “Love and Sex”
Publishers: "Being a Man in a Woman's World I, II & III”

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Dr. Dennis W. Neder


I'm able to answer any sort of question related to the approach, meeting people, dating, sex, relationships, break-ups, non-legal marriage and divorce questions, and anything in between. I've helped over 30,000 people with their individual issues. IMPORTANT: Please, PLEASE don't ask me, "what was he thinking..." or "why did he say..." types of questions! I DO NOT READ MINDS! There are 1,001 reasons why someone does what they do, says what they say or thinks what they think. If you *REALLY* want to know what they were thinking, saying or why they were acting that way - go ask them! Be sure to check out my FAQ's on my website at: You can email me directly at:


I am the author of the books "Being a Man in a Woman`s World I & II" and "1001 Places and Techniques to Meet Great Women" and 11 others. I`ve spent the last 20 years studying the art and science of every aspect of relationships, and have answered over 30,000 letters from readers all over the world. My main focus is men`s relationships with women, but I also have many female readers and answer questions for them regularly as well.

Doctor of Philosophy

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