For most people, making a commitment, perhaps through marriage or living together, is a natural progression from falling in love. But it can be upsetting if you’ve reached that stage and your partner doesn’t feel the same.
Why people avoid commitment
If you want to take the next step with your relationship and your partner is shying away, it’s a natural reaction to think there must be something wrong with you. But if they’re showing no signs of wanting to leave the relationship this is unlikely to be the case. More often it’s to do with not feeling ready or fears that the relationship won’t work out.
There are three main reasons why some people find it difficult to commit to a relationship:
- they feel it’s too soon
- they’re scared the relationship won’t work
- they’re in love with romance
There’s no right or wrong speed for a developing relationship. Everyone needs to go at his or her own pace. Perhaps they feel they need more time to get to know you, to grow together and work through differences.
Some people need more time to get to know themselves and explore their expectations of life. There may be things they feel they need to sort out before committing to the relationship, such as a career or issues with family members.
People who have been hurt in the past often need longer than others to feel sure of their feelings and confident that they can trust those feelings.
Anxiety over whether the relationship will work is the most common reason why some people find it hard to commit. As divorce rates continue, it’s not surprising that fears are growing about the permanence of relationships. If someone comes from a family background where there was divorce, they’re even more likely to be anxious that the same could happen to them.
There will never be a guarantee that a relationship will work, but the longer you’ve been together, the better your chances and your confidence.
In love with romance
While a lot of people see romance as part of the chase, others have little desire to catch a mate but prefer to spend their lives chasing.
Some people simply can’t accept the sacrifices commitment brings. Some are in love with the newness and excitement of romance and simply don’t feel they can honestly make the commitment to faithfulness that most partners expect.
How to cope
Whatever the reason for your partner not wanting to commit, the following should help you to communicate better and cope with the waiting.
- Explore the reasons. While you may not be able to directly change your partner, understanding why they feel as they do will help you accept their position.
- Give reassurance. If you find they’re fearful the relationship won’t work out, then offer plenty of reassurance that you’re committed to working at the relationship through good times and bad.
- Set time posts. Rather than feeling you have to wait indefinitely, set yourself time posts. Decide that you’ll review how you’re both feeling about commitment every six months – or whatever period feels right for you.
- Enjoy yourselves. Once you’ve agreed that you’ve put the commitment issue on hold for six months, make sure you do everything you can to forget it and enjoy all the other aspects of your relationship.
- Plan practice runs. If there are particular issues that your partner is concerned about then do what you can to rehearse the situations. Perhaps you could holiday together, spend more time with in-laws or just discuss some of the tricky issues that you still need to resolve.
- Consider counselling. If some of the issues seem quite deep rooted then consider couple counselling .
- Remember you have a choice. This one may seem very difficult, but it’s true. You can decide to wait for your partner or to leave. This isn’t to say it would be an easy decision, but ultimately you do have a choice. If you think you need to explore this then you might find it helpful to read Is it over?.