Commitment Fears and What to Do About Them

commitment fears

Have you ever wondered about men’s commitment fears and what to do about them?

How could he disappear so quickly after he came on so strong?  Why hasn’t he called?  Was he just into the sex?  How could he not see how great we are together?  Why doesn’t he make a date? Why did he put his profile back up?  Will this man ever commit?  In fact, what am I supposed to do about his hot-and-cold commitment fears?

And we’re supposed to be the mysterious ones! Truth is, men are at least as hard to figure out as women. Their behavior can be confusing, frustrating and maddening. They tease us with clever poems, roses, daily texts and calls, only to turn around in the blink of an eye and completely disappear or disappoint us. Who hasn’t fallen for that grand opening dating game, where they lure us with intoxicating conversations, funny dates, a perfect little heart necklace, delicious kisses and more?

So let’s talk about men’s commitment fears and what you can do about them. And don’t forget to watch the video below on this important topic.

Commitment Fears: The Good News

The good news is that almost all men, like us, really do want true love!  Down deep they realize that they’d be happier, more content and more sexually satisfied if they had a good relationship.  The bad news is they are also scared, and they push real intimacy or commitment away.  Men fear being overwhelmed and taken over in an all-consuming relationship. Believe it or not, they also fear rejection and abandonment.  And all these fears play out in a variety of ways.  The dating games men play are both unconscious and conscious games which create a maddening push-pull with your heart. That’s why dating them can be so confusing and frustrating.

Guy’s fears of being vulnerable, of being loved and loving, lead them to enact their dead-end dating patterns.  Like us, they have habitual ways of sabotaging themselves when it comes to romance and love.  Unfortunately, men often follow these same self-destructive dead-end patterns over and over again, sinking possibilities of love into the netherworld in the process.  It is super important to understand your man’s issues.  Here’s why:

Understanding Men’s Commitment Fears

First off, understanding their commitment fears can liberate us from self-blaming thoughts.  A guy gets cold, refuses to make a lasting plan to be together, or worse, disappears.  Immediately we start blaming ourselves with negative judgmental self-talk.  We think, I’ll never find love because there is something wrong with me.  Or, I’m too fat, too old, just plan unlovable at my core.  Once we understand that the problems are coming from our partner’s deeper psychology,  we can let go of this negative, depressing self-talk.  Instead we can more easily say, “It is not just about me.  It’s about him and his issues.” We can view relationships in a more balanced way, examining more objectively who did what to whom.

Armed with this knowledge you can quickly get away from guys who are DUDs (Definitely Unworkable Dudes). Or relationships that are truly dead-end or even destructive.  You can see clearly when it is time to stay and work on the relationship or when it’s time to cut your losses and go. Here are three common types of commitment fears.

Commitment Fears: Type #1 The Classic Commitment Phobe

It all starts out perfectly enough. At first the Commitment Phobe comes across as a super or at least interesting guy who is totally into you. Months pass and you draw closer, happily thinking he is the One. Then the “F word” rears its ugly head. Not that “F word”—I mean “F” as in “future.” If you even mention having a future together, he changes the subject and slithers out of the conversation. If you come back to the topic he gets quiet, nervous, upset, or angry.

The Commitment Phobe may be reluctant to act like he’s in a couple when you are with friends or out in public. He may talk only in the first person, saying “I” instead of “we” or “me” instead of “us.” He may keep you away from meeting his friends and family. You may be in an on-again, off-again relationship with a guy who has this type of commitment fear. Where he always seems to want you when he can’t have you, yet he just cannot pull the trigger and commit when you are together.

Commitment Fears: The L Word

If the relationship has progressed to having sex, he may need to make an escape and go home instead of spending the night in your bed. He may feel emotionally unavailable to you. Usually guys with this kind of commitment fear are unable to use the “L word,” as in being “in love” with you. Even though you have been seeing him steadily for many months or even years. He may say he is not sure what love really is or that he is incapable of experiencing love. Or that he doesn’t have to say it, he just has to show it. In fact, he may come right out and say that he does not believe in love, marriage, or getting serious and settling down with one person.

This is a guy who is terrified of jumping fully into a long-term relationship because he believes he can’t be himself and fully be with a woman. In his view he has to give up the lead role in his own life if he is stuck in a supporting role with you and/or the children. It seems like his golf, buddies, bar days, sports, even the Super Bowl are going to be ripped away by the all-powerful, all-controlling vortex of the couple. For this man commitment, love, and marriage mean being trapped in a cage from which there is no escape.

Commitment Fears Warning Signs:

When you mention commitment, moving in together, getting engaged, or married he (a) clams up, (b) changes the subject, (c) gets nervous, (d) picks a fight, or (e) all of the above. Another Warning Sign: the guy is forty-five plus and has never been in a long-term relationship or married.

Commitment Fears: Type #2 The Peter Pan

This type of commitment fear shows up as a guy who is afraid of growing up, being a man, and taking on the responsibilities of a relationship, children, and family life. This particular dead-end dating pattern starts in the guy’s early family life. He may have had a father who worked himself into the ground and yet could not provide enough income for a good family life. This was his role model and he identifies and feels doomed to repeat this life script in a serious relationship.

Or the Peter Pan may have had a larger-than-life business mogul father whom he felt he couldn’t measure up to. If he was repeatedly put down by his parents, told he was stupid, incompetent, or not good enough, he may have internalized that input as part of his self-image. Or he may have had a hyper-demanding mother who criticized his father and/or him for not being good enough. Men in his family may have been put down by the women. The Peter Pan is boyish in his leisure activities. He may be a video game addict who is glued to his game console at all times. Or he may spend many hours watching or playing sports.

Even if he is successful and doing well financially as an adult, the Peter Pan is still afraid he cannot provide the emotional caretaking that is required to make a woman happy. To a Peter Pan, having a relationship means having to take on enormous responsibility. This triggers his commitment fears bigtime.

Commitment Fears: Mama’s Peter Pan.

In this variation, the guy is smitten with you in the beginning. Even though there are some alarm bells, you are charmed. After all, he has such a great relationship with his mother! He seems to really appreciate women. He is self-confident and a little cocky and thinks he is hot stuff. You find that all very appealing. Plus, he is a loyal guy who is close to his whole family. He may live at home or near his relatives. Or he may visit his family at least once a week. He may even be a great caregiver who looks after a sick or impaired family member.

Little by little, the other shoe drops. You find out that he talks to his mother on the phone every day. As the relationship unfolds you come to understand that his family only tolerates you and may not like you very much. You find out that you may be the wrong color or ethnicity or just not good enough in his mother’s eyes. Even though he says he is truly crazy about you, the bottom line is that his life is all about loyalty to his mother, his family, and his ethnic roots—all of which somehow turn out to be in opposition to what you need and want.

He can’t take you away to that Caribbean resort on your birthday because his family reunion is that weekend. The mama’s boy is torn in half between his feelings for you and his loyalty to the clan.

On the other hand, there are mama’s boys who are less emotionally entangled with their mothers. If you are willing to be patient, it is possible to help this type of guy grow away from his childlike enmeshment and into a relationship with you.

Commitment Fears: Our client, Karimah, and her Mama’s Peter Pan type

Biagio and I totally hit it off after meeting on a large online site. We would amuse each other, talking and laughing for hours. We were totally on the same wavelength and even used to finish each other’s sentences. Even our bodies seemed to fit together. It was quite magical. We dated furiously for six weeks and then he told his mother about me. She was a super-controlling Italian mama (mind you, I love Italian families!) who did not take kindly to the idea of her son dating an African-American woman.

Biagio swore up and down that he didn’t care and he was going to choose me. But I noticed that after every visit with his mom, he became withdrawn, depressed. It made me very uncomfortable. After two years of battling about it, I told Biagio I was leaving and I meant it. He came after me and actually cut things off with his mom for a while, which I think was good for him! It has been four years now and we have just gotten married.

Peter Pan Commitment Fear Warning Signs

He comes right out and says that marriage and family life would be too much of a burden for him. Or he has to consult with family members every time he makes a decision more important than what socks to wear.

Commitment Fears: Type #3 The Savior

This is a super-duper caretaker, a Mr. Fix-it. He comes in and repairs your broken pipes, helps you with your work project, runs errands, and is uber-helpful. In fact, he will do just about anything you want him to do. And he tries to be romantic, too. He wants to buy you fancy dinners, maybe even a car or a house. At a deeper level, however, all his caretaking is about buying your attention and affection because at the core he feels like he doesn’t really deserve love.

The Savior is insecure and feels not good enough. He comes across with a needy vibe underneath it all, where he is looking to you for approval, asking what you think, what you are drinking or ordering for dinner, before he makes a decision. His feelings depend on what you think and feel. If you are sad, disappointed, afraid, or upset, he simply cannot tolerate your being down emotionally. He can’t separate out his own feelings. His deepest fear is that he cannot make you happy.

The helpful Savior can be good for you at first. But if you outgrow him by becoming less needy and more independent, the whole relationship can fall apart.

Commitment Fears: The Case of Gina and her Savior named Bill

When I started seeing Bill, I needed a car for my new job. He helped me buy an older model at a very cheap price and did some work on it for me. Bill was so caring and helpful and bonded with my kids really quickly. He got them a used Xbox game and they loved to play with him! Bill was not the type I usually go for, but I really thought he was perfect for us. But after a while he started getting on my nerves. I had some problems with my boss at work and became depressed. He somehow couldn’t tolerate that. He started drinking and started spending less time with me.  I think out of frustration.

But my father was an alcoholic and I could not tolerate the drinking. So I called him on it. Bill admitted that he felt useless because he couldn’t help my situation. I told him that it wasn’t his job to fix everything in my life and that if he continued to drink as a way of calming himself that I would leave him. Strangely, that seemed to turn the trick. We went into coaching and he stopped drinking. Six months later we went to Jamaica and married on the beach.

Commitment Fears: Savior Warning Sign

He is always trying to be helpful and he cannot stand it if he fails and you are still feeling down or upset.

So there you have it: three of the most common men’s commitment fears.  Many of the guys who are in these patterns are perfectly willing to endure a difficult or on-again, off-again relationship for years. Years! If this is not what you want—if you want true, lasting love, be smart and act quickly to protect yourself. Otherwise you could end up in a dead-end relationship for the next decade.

If you are several months into the relationship, think about what you want and have some straight talk with the guy. Talk about the vision you have for your love future. See if he wants to work toward the same goal with you. If this kind of talk creates a fight, or he distances or sulks—you may need to reevaluate. If you yearn for engagement, marriage, and/or children and he firmly does not, you need to take a stand for yourself.

Commitment Fears: Distancing From Your Partner

By the way, distancing from your partner is often the most powerful thing you can do to help the guy overcome his commitment fears . It is when your partner experiences loss that he may be willing to examine his own behavior, go into therapy or coaching, or take growth courses in order to get out of his dead-end patterns. Then he may come back to you as a sincerely changed man, ready to commit, to marry, and to create the life of love you truly want.

In fact, if you do distance yourself and your guy is hanging on to one of these self-sabotaging patterns and making no moves to break through his commitment fears, go cold turkey, cut off all contact, and move on to dating other guys quickly. As in right now! There are good guys out there. Repeat: there are good guys out there. And I mean good matches for you, no matter what baggage you are carrying. Plus, when you show that you totally  mean business in terms of moving on, your current partner may totally transform and come after you seeking commitment in a real and amazing way!

3 Commitment Fears & What To Do About Them: The Video

Next, please watch the video below. I will arm you with more information about men’s commitment fears and what you can do about them.


find mr. right this year
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sign up here for a powerful gift!

FREE Top-Tier Love Strategy Session!

Limited time offer

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Are you a successful woman who is tired of having NO good men to date?  THIS  is for you!

Hi, I'm Dr. Diana Kirschner. My team and I have helped thousands of successful single women, including judges, famous shrinks, CEOs, philanthropists, Directors, professors, and celebrities like Hoda Kotb from The Today Show to find a high-quality man who understands, appreciates and cherishes them, and I'm confident we can help YOU too!

I'm a PBS Love expert and psychologist who has appeared on Oprah, the Today Show and in an Amazon Prime show, Love in 90 Days based on my bestseller Love in 90 Days.  My work has been featured in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, ABC, People, and NPR.

I specialize in helping high-caliber women create feminine self-confidence, dating success, and passionate love matches.

I want to do everything I can to give you hands-on personalized support that will make a lasting difference!

That's why I'm excited to offer a FREE Top-Tier Love Strategy Session via Zoom or phone with one of my gifted coaches.

During your powerful and dynamic one-on-one session, we will help you with your unique dating situation. You'll walk away refreshed and inspired, with a clear step-by-step path forward to move through any obstacles and get the top-tier love you want.  And deserve!

"I followed the program and enjoyed the process. I appreciate Dr. Diana planting very helpful seeds!"
-Hoda Kotb, The Today Show

Here's what women like you are saying:

"My love strategy session helped me to meet a really high-caliber guy!  In it I learned how to tweak my profile to attract great matches.  And my boyfriend is the best!  We are having a blast building our dream house and planning for a cruise to Tahiti ! -Darla, Psychologist & Author

matchmaker, dating coach, dating tips, dating & relationship advice"I was fifty-two years old with a career that was enviably successful. But my love life was not. And I couldn't figure out why. As my love mentor, Diana helped me understand that I not only deserved to have but could have a strong, loving life partner who would always be there for me.  I found true love in three months! And after 4 plus years of marriage, my husband and I still pinch ourselves every day to make sure that it's not a dream!" - Midge Woolsey, PBS Pledge Host


  1. The Shepherd on September 26, 2010 at 11:06 am

    You should also point out how bad this behaviour is for men themselves. For decades I have criticized myself for not responding to a beautiful young girl’s advances at a bus stop. Why didn’t I respond to her? She was so beautiful that she could have gained absolute power over me and if I didn’t stack up, the rejection would have been devastating. I was terrified, so I walked away. I wonder if she ended up thinking her hips were too big (they were) or she was too tall (she was). None of her flaws mattered to me, it was her attractions that in my eyes were the threat. It wasn’t a game to me, just survival, and yes it was my loss.

  2. Pete on October 1, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    I’d suggest your readers pay heed to their own personalities rather than fitting into others.

  3. Ever on October 3, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I agree 100% with Pete. Fix yourself first and the rest will fall into place. You really have to ask yourself the hard, sometimes painful questions. I will add When you care enough about yourself, you won’t allow these men/woman anywhere near you! You can walk away empowered and with a great friend, you.

  4. Slickinator on January 18, 2011 at 1:39 am

    i know i have lost many chances with women on many occasions as i am maybe one of the last good guys out there ,my problem is i am too good ,first off i am so scared of going too fast or forward that i tend to go at a crawl or make jokes about stuff too see if they twitch per say,and i know you will laugh but one thing that has me on a downside is before i do or try anything its like i need to hear a ok or basicly get permission to even hug or kiss ,a women friend of mine pointed out too me that some women like there boundrys pushed even a lil ,cause some will think they are not good enough if ur not even trying to get closer,its one of those things i guess u really have to feel the waters too know how too proceed and i need help in proceeding ,as most women can’t figure me out and think i am not interested because of how slow i am and even though i really am ,i guess i am like a deer caught in the headlights ,scared unsure of my self ,and i do admit i set myself up for a fall usually also as self esteem is low i have even told women they were too good for me as i seriously want them happy even if its not with me ,like i always say i make a better friend than a lover and have lots of friends as i help everyone ,and have great patiences and a open ear ,i do more counselling for others than my self ,talk about needing real help for me ,one thing is i would never ever hurt a women ,even if she was stabbing me i would not hit her i will try and run though ha ha thats how nice i am. anyways sorry for my mumbling i hope i kinda said who i am and how i am .is there help still for me ?

  5. Darrell on February 20, 2011 at 8:08 am

    In the beginning most men and women don’t look beyond the body language or chemistry that attracted them to each other in the first place and that just lasts so long.
    If they don’t have the same value system or beliefs there will usually be a problem down the line.
    Some couples, partners who have different goals can learn to respect each others differences or interests and outlooks but it’s hard to be with someone who is not as motivated as yourself to grow and that may hold you back or vice versa.
    On the other hand, it can make a good balance as long as your value system and beliefs are the same. I’ve been called a workaholic(in the art field) but it’s just that my mind is always working on creating new things and I can only sit around like a lump or “relax” for so long before I get ansy.
    I have nothing bad to say about any of the women I’ve been involved with over the years as I look at it as we all learned from each other and there was respect for each other.
    I wasn’t right and they weren’t wrong and vice versa …we just had different outlooks.
    I agree with the previous comments left here by the others and probably agree with Pete’s statement the most.
    …don’t just try and fit in for the sake of fitting in.
    …you may feel lonely at times but not empty.

  6. a guy on February 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    99% of men will use women for sex as their first intention, and have “relationship” in mind as a second intention, if it turns out they actually like the girl.

    The solution? Even if you don’t believe in Him, God’s principles do wonders for your life and well being. NO PREMARITAL SEX. How can you be used and then have a man disappear if you don’t screw him? hint: you can’t. If you’re not ****ing before marriage, the only ones that will stick are the ones who actually matter, and the trash will be gone fast (especially if you tell them directly: no sex before marriage).

  7. Marvin on October 6, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    I agree with the first commenter in the sense that if you adopt the philosophy of no premarital sex then you do eliminate 90% of the problem. The problem with that or should I say challenge is to find a man who shares that same value and philosophy.

    If your philosophy is not based on no premarital sex then a person needs a way of screening a person to discover what their deep intentions are in regards to a relationship with you in the short and long term

  8. Yafio on October 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Dr. Diana Kirschner’s Dating Games Men Play sure bites on the behinds of men, like we are the root cause of all the women’s woes in this extraordinary game of love. ’cause that what it really is, a game! Most women have no conceptualization, nor an understanding of what love means in American society today, that goes for this good-intentioned doctor. The road to hades is littered with good intent, and to most women, love is a throw-way like an old toy, and Dr, Kirschner adds to this. She is just another expert who don’t know diddly-squat, and creates more problems then they are worth. Men need to be men. Nothing more, nothing less, and not some guinea-pigs in a therapy session. May God save us all, especially the children.

  9. Dr. Diana Kirschner on October 19, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Appreciate your sharing your viewpoint. No I’m not a man hating b*#ch. Relationships are a two-way street. But some men really don’t want to commit or are just fearful. Then they act out in different ways. If you read my writings on women, you’ll know that women have loads of cognitive, emotional and spiritual issues. And those drive men away and create suffering. thanks, Dr. D

  10. M.O.G on November 5, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    There are many reasons men play games. I have spoken about this in great detail in my blog. Yes I agree abstinence should be a rule of thumb. Someone who is sex driven definitely won’t stick around for the wedding bells. That however is only the beginning. Just because you find out a man doesn’t seem to be only concerned with sex, doesn’t mean he is a good guy or healthy for you! You still need to weed out the good from the bad and there are a lot more games men play other then hit it and quit it! Read more ..

Leave a Comment