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was there a touch of commitment phobia, or was it me?


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I've been thinking about this a lot over the past day, as my sister in law has been asking me why i get in relationships with men that don't want commitment. i certainly don't think it's been a conscious decision.


My break up story is here: . 6 days now.


This guy was wonderful in so many ways, but it took three years to get to where I suspect many people of our age (i'm 35, he's 38) get to in a year or less.


he was the keener of the two us when we first met i'd say and i know he'd invested a lot of time trying to find a girlfriend. we met online and while i was only on one site i think he was a few. he also did a bit of speed dating and other activities to try and find someone. it seems odd to me now because i suspect there is a touch (or more) of commitment phobe about him and so why be in a relationship. i told him when we broke up on saturday, 'you cannot go on breaking hearts like this'. his only other major relationship ended the exact same way with her wanting commitment and him unable or unwilling to give it. other than that he's had a bunch of relationships that he says were never going to go anywhere.


A month or two into things, i fell hard. we said i love you at four months but for me that was really the end of progression at what i feel is a normal pace. 5 months in he went on a very civilised holiday (he is not 'a lad' at all) with one of his guy friends. the night before he left, he didn't want me to stay with him and, because i'd been out for a couple of drinks, i got a little upset and told him i didn't understand as we were going to be apart for a week. he held me tight, looked really shocked and said 'i don't want to see you upset, the last thing i want to do is f*** things up with you, you're the centre of my world'. his reasoning for why we had to be apart that night was because he wanted to turn his water off or something crap like that. he is quite anal, very organised and very houseproud - but still, i found that weird.


while he was away i'd only ever get an email a day with very functional content about what they'd been doing. no calls, very few texts (maybe a couple the entire time) and one 'i wish you were you were here'. it felt really odd to me as we were in the first flushes of our relationship. i didn't try to push the contact, but i felt anxious that entire week and thought he was going to come back and dump me. but when he arrived back he was super pleased to see me, and i could tell from how he was that i'd been worrying over nothing. i figured that at the right time i'd tell him that the level of contact had felt odd to me. we were both adults, we loved each other, we treated each other with lots of kindness, so i thought that we'd talk it through, he'd hopefully understand, and i wouldn't feel like that again. i didn't ever go on to raise that incident explicitly but over time he got to know me, and how i like to communicate. i also understood his style. we both wanted to make each other happy, but we never managed to line up brilliantly on our communication.


he was never really one for 'i love yous' - although he did start saying it a lot more unprompted towards the instead. before that he'd curl up to me in a cute way and tell me he 'liked me very much today' or some such thing. i knew that was his way of saying he loved me.


i was wary of not wanting to get involved with a guy that had commitment issues so i'd checked things out at the beginning. i asked when we met how it was that he hadn't settled down yet. he told me he hadn't met the right person. no 'i don't want a long term commitment or marriage' or anything like that. at 6 months i asked what his thoughts were on marriage / kids. he said as he'd got older he'd started to wonder if they would happen for him, and he was ok if they didn't, but he thought it would be lovely if it happened. i didn't see any red flags there either. on top of that he is a very traditional guy in lots of ways. in addition his family background is very settled. his parents have been very happily married for over 40 years. his sister is also married with two kids. he is great with his family (they and i thought a lot of each other too), although no one ever probes too deeply into anyone elses's business. his parents certainly would never have asked him where our relationship was going.


other things from the early days: there were a couple of weddings he was invited to within the first 8 months of us being together that he didn't want to take me to. i didn't make a big deal of it, barely mentioned it, but it made me wonder. i'd go round to his flat (invited) and he'd often just sit there reading the paper, leaving me wondering why he'd asked me round if he wanted to do something else.


after a year i had to find a new place to live. we spoke about it and he was not ready for us to move in together. inevitably it was something that came up every 6 months or so and each time it was the same. he still wasn't ready, but always said 'i love you more than anyone, you are the centre of my world, we want the same things'. so each time, i picked myself up and carried on.


after two years i was fed up with people asking when we were going to live together. at this point we were spending weekends (friday night to sunday) together and two nights (never more) in the week - and we'd been doing this from the very start so there had been no progession at all. after lunch with a group of his friends where i was quizzed and felt thoroughly embarrassed, i showed my frustration. this was in the may. my lease was coming up in the september. he said when that ended i would move in with him. as i mentioned in my other post, right at the end of august he changed his mind. in his words, as it 'came into plain view' he felt freaked out, and he didn't feel we should do it out of practicality. we somehow managed to carry on although i was crushed, and without making a plan to, from december, we just started spending all our nights together at his place. i told myself this was huge progress but it didn't stop the concern i had that he wasn't expressing any kind of real commitment - it was all words, not actions. and even in words all he was telling me was that he wanted to feel ready to commit to me. not that he could definitely see it happening.


the pressure of going round the same conversation every few months was more than either of us could bear. and i'd often get frustrated that everything was to his timetable, and about his decision making. it also really knocked my confidence and made me look to him for reassurance. that only served to remind him of all the things he couldn't say to me. we loved each other a lot but his feelings reached a plateau and he stopped having faith in the end that we'd ever get to the fairytale. in the post break up communication we've had, i've asked a lot of questions. he says he was 'well and truly bowled over by me'; that this was the best relationship he's ever had and that it was close to perfect in many ways. he now admits he doesn't know if he wants marriage and kids, that he doesn't see things in what he calls 'the black and white' way that i do. but he does want the chance to keep looking for it, in case he finds someone that does make him want those things. that person isn't me.


these are obviously just snippets of our story. but i always suspected he might be a bit of a commitment phobe. we were so compatible on so many levels - he says that too, and that there was nothing about me that was a concern for him - just whether or not 'we' were right.


i'm wondering whether this is likely to be his pattern; or whether he just wasn't into me enough and someone else is going to come along, knock him for six, and he'll end up married in a year's time. he's 38, never been heartbroken, two major relationships and both have ended for the same reasons. is whatever it is he is looking for really out there?


what do you guys think? it's horrible, i know, but i get some comfort from thinking that a lot (not all) of this may have been down to his commitment issues.

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what do you guys think? it's horrible, i know, but i get some comfort from thinking that a lot (not all) of this may have been down to his commitment issues.


Hello Dice7, I've read your original posts and threads but haven't contributed them, so I apologise in advance if my two-pennies worth is a little off the beaten track.


It does sound like he has major commitment issues and is emotionally unavailable. You have to understand, that his commitment issues are his problem, not yours. Only he can work on these issues to resolve them. But he has to recognise it for himself and he has to find a way to work through it.


My advice to you would be for you to take the upper hand in this now ex-relationship (for your own welfare and healing) and just let him get on with it. I realise that you are trying to understand why this relationship has failed, since you were/are so compatible otherwise. I guess that is what is making it so hard for both of you. You have to LET GO. Someone has to let go first. Don't try to understand his problem/s too much, because nothing you do or say will suddenly reverse the commitment issues, or his unavailability.


I'm not sure where you're currently at, whether NC has started?


I'm sorry if this is not very helpful.

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thanks moneypenny. it's actually very helpful. it's very true that i am raking over this because we both felt it was so right in so many ways. he has confided that there is a part of him that worries he won't be as lucky again (his words). i think the odd thing is that he wants to be emotionally available. i don't think he wants to keep getting in relationships that ended up breaking down.


but, as you say, i have to try and focus on letting go.


where i'm at with NC is that i have to go get all mys stuff out of his flat tomorrow. as the hours tick by and tomorrow gets closer i am getting more and more panicked by how hard that's going to be. currently i am tucked hundreds of miles away in the countryside with my gran - i came here on sunday after we had the breakup conversation last saturday. tomorrow it's back to london and back to horrendouly scary reality.


i wrote another post here on my thoughts / worries over NC:

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I'm going to say something here that is obvious to me, not just about you but all people. Every single person in this world usually has some type of issue as a child that effects their relationships when they are grown up. I do, all of my friends do, and pretty much every person I've seen on here does.


The main thing to focus on is to resolve these issues and know why we are the way we are. Then we can change them. In other words, I know you're looking for answers to why it ended and it's normal. Don't do that to yourself. You aren't him, and honestly there's a REASON you choose that type of person. That's more what I would worry about hun. I totally understand where you are coming from. Through my reading I have discovered why my ex did what she did, it took a lot of deep looking to get there though.


Once you figure you out, you can figure him out. It doesn't really matter though. You'll come to the realization you can change and get someone a lot better. The book that really helped me figure out who I was, and why I was that way.... was The journey from abandonment to healing by Susan Anderson


That book will help you move on. Literally everyone I see on here has some type of issue that is going to effect their relationships. Most of the time it's significant, and they don't see it. We shouldn't focus on the past as much as changing the future. As all of us know we can't change the past. I'm going to be honest, everyone has a time to change and notice who they are. Some people choose not to, and some people go through so much pain they have no choice. If we don't change we usually repeat the same pattern over and over. A lot of the people on here, that time to change is now. Sometimes it's not. Either way they found this site for a reason. It took me 10 years to get to the point where I decided I needed to make a change in who I am, and how I choose my relationships.


His relationships keep breaking down for a reason. Honestly just because there is something wrong does not mean we are bad people. It just means we need to do some soul searching. I think he does, and I think you do as well. Simply because you chose to be with someone that had those issues. There's a lesson to be learned about yourself. Look at it that way.

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it's not the first time either endy. three of my four relationships have been with emotionally unavailable men. i had a good 6/7 year relationship with one guy (lets, call him ex-ex-ex) who i am now friends with. i loved him a lot while we were together but at about the four year mark it became clear that he wouldn't properly commit to me and so i ended up leaving. we also wanted other different things from life. fortunately for me i left when i was ready and i was lucky enough not to have had a single regret since. i know it's going to sound like a horrendous waste of time, but this is what i was hoping i could do with my current ex - get him out of my system while we were still together. the difference being, however, that in almost every way we were compatible, enjoy the same things, and are seemingly following the same goals.


anyways ex-ex-ex and i caught up over email the other day. he was very supportive of my current situation but i could tell he didn't really want to hear the details. a year ago he texted me to tell me he still had feelings for me that he couldn't get rid of. since we broke up, over 3.5 years ago, he hasnt had any serious relationships at all. he's 40 and now says he's fine just being friends with people and is ok if it is never different from that. his reason? it means he won't get hurt again (i didn't know if he was referring to me, but after i'd given it a really good go at making it work). i mean - what???? is he going to be alone for the rest of his life??? when we first met he was with someone else that he didn't love. i knew her, she'd always complain he that he didn't. fast forward two years and we get together - it was quite messy to be honest. im not proud. i was young and wouldn't do that again. so, yeah, commitment issue guy number 1.



number 2 was who i have referred to as the jerk. an airline pilot who was sat next to me on a plane, when i was coming back from a business trip. he pursued me relentlessly for 6 months, eventually telling me he had fallen in love with me. i wasn't that interested. i'm embarrassed to say that when he started to give up - boom. i started to want him. we had a relationship that limped on for 6 months. im not one to make judgements on people but he is a complete narcissist, and in hindsight i suspect he cheated on me although now i couldn't give a toss.


as i type, i guess the thing in common with 1 and 2 was that i wanted people when they were unavailable. although to be fair i had an instant attraction to 1 before even knowing he had a gf.


with my current ex (weird term) i don't really know what happened. i sure as hell didn't see the signs. in fact in the beginning i rememer thinking that finally i had found a grown up who seemed to be comfortable with himself and with the idea of a serious relationship. maybe there was something going on subconsciously. however as i think and type at the same time, as i said earlier, he was the more keen of the two of us early on. perhaps there was a subtle shift when he started to settle down after the first month or so and subconsciously i saw that as a pull back - that would be the point at which i started to feel more.


i might be wrong, i don't know.


but if that is the case, how in the world do i break this pattern? i do know that i don't want to be with someone that is right behind me every time i turn around. i want to be in a relationship where we are both committed but also have a healthy amount of independence - work, social lives etc.

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i am going to talk about my childhood briefly too. for a while i been aware that it probably has a bearing on things. i think i probably have some serious abandonment issues. my parents divorced when i was four. my brother (a year younger than me) and i lived with my mum and saw dad at weekends. they were like chalk and cheese. my recollection is that she was a party girl, seemed to flit from man to man, and she was an alcoholic. my dad, a doctor, is very straight and traditional.


their relationship post divorce was pretty acrimonious from memory. it wasn't a happy time at all. then, when i was 9 and my brother was 8, my mum committed suicide. i remember vividly it was a friday night. we were due to go to our dad's for the weekend the next day. that friday she took us to her new bf's house. we hadn't met him before. they got a babysitter for us, a stranger (in the days when you went into a newsagent where cards were displayed advertising such services - unthinkable now). before she left my mum kissed us both and gave me a necklace and my brother a comb. i didn't think anything of it. we woke the next morning to a note from the babysitter saying she'd had to go. and my mother never came back. she'd left us in a strange house in an area we didn't know and she'd gone off with her boyfriend to commit suicide together by pumping petrol fumes into the car.


i remember the realisation when she wasn't coming back. destroyed wouldn't even start to cover it. ever since then i have felt sheer panic at the thought of people leaving me. i'm cautious of saying this because it's very early days in my current break up, but i guess this might explain why i seemed to have a harder time getting through the days when the jerk broke up with me than i am in this curent breakup (even though it was a far shorter relationship and far less important to me). like i say, too early to tell but although i am in INTENSE pain now, i am dealing with it more calmly. and i wonder if that's because the jerk cut me off and literally disappeared as my mum had done, as opposed to current ex who is trying to be kind and hasn't completely disconnected.


sounds like i've got stuff to sort out with a counsellor doesn't it. i have spoken to one before, but i've never properly seen it through. my trouble is i can lack patience and i want everything yesterday

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You sound like you are reasonably self-aware, which is great. The counseling will help for sure.


Forget looking for reasons why it ended. Endy makes a great point in his post: that what you need to focus on is your part in this, because that's the only factor that you can actually change. I have a very similar issue so I know how hard it is when you feel like you aren't consciously choosing people that won't give you what you want. Now you have a chance to change things for yourself, though.

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You aren't him, and honestly there's a REASON you choose that type of person. That's more what I would worry about hun. I totally understand where you are coming from. Through my reading I have discovered why my ex did what she did, it took a lot of deep looking to get there though.


Once you figure you out, you can figure him out. It doesn't really matter though. You'll come to the realization you can change and get someone a lot better.


I agree with you endy, on so many levels. I just don't know if it's right for a person whose unknown issue is of hindrance to try to figure out that first. I mean, sometimes, that's our blind spot and it doesn't become any clearer if we focus on it. It does become clearer when we focus on somebody else and realize how inappropriate/weird/funny/illogical our reaction was. What I meant to say, for some people, trying to figure out others is a way to figure out themselves. We are not all introverts - in the Myers Briggs sense.

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sounds like i've got stuff to sort out with a counsellor doesn't it.


Sounds like you have stuff to sort out, and you have the option to do it by yourself or with a counselor. I too am a survivor of suicide (my best friend but still, it definitely triggers abandonment issues) and I can safely say this to you... if you are inclined toward a counselor, then use one who has expertise in this realm not a generic one. Suicide beravement and the relational issues that follow are pretty specific, need a given set of competencies and sensibility that one can't improvise. You might also want to join a suicide survivor support group.


In the meanwhile you can send me a private message if you like.

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just tried to PM you leaningpixie, but got a msg saying you have chosen not to receive private messages or that you may not be allowed to receive them?


I think there is a given number of messages I need to post in order to be allowed to PM. I'll wait till I go above that limit sorry!

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What I realized from reading that book, is that anyone who did not have loving parents... Pretty much has an abandonment issue. For instance my parents are great parents HOWEVER... they by know means ever made me feel good enough. It lead to me constantly trying to please other people and doing things for others before myself. It lead me to think I was never good enough no matter what I did, and I believed it until now. They did the best they knew how to do as parents though. Yeah, it's that easy to get that messed up in relationships. You CAN get through this and you will. Abandonment has 5 stages like grief. Right now you're probably in the shattering stage.


Get that book first and foremost IMO ASAP, but you are probably also going to want to go to a councler as well. I'm not a believe in meds to treat things we can treat ourselves. I've seen people on anti depressants still be depressed. What I think you should do is make sure you find the RIGHT counceler. Someone that you can relate to easily and feel a connection with. However many psychologists are also codependant... (go figure right). You're going to realize from reading that book exactly why you choose who you choose. You're going to make a change, and choose other people. You are choosing people who are going to leave you until you do that. The reason is because you are probably afraid of getting too close to someone. Everyone you have ever known as a child has not been there for you properly. You need to do this for not only you, but if you have children one day as well.


I can almost guess that intimacy has been an issue in all your relationships. The thing I want you to know is, it's not your fault. NONE of it is your fault. The thing is right now you are realizing it. It's going to take time. You have to be patient with it. You have to get right before you're going to break this pattern so take your time. I'm still on my way dear. It's hard for me when I get out of any relationship to move on. Very hard, it's almost like I wish they would just die so I can know I will never have to think about them again after a grieve it. That's how abandonment is different. We still know they are there. If you need to PM me at any time. You are self aware and that is good. However this is going to take time and A LOT of practice. It's totally worth it though, and you'll be much happier in life and relationships once you get through it.

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UGH. i was just mass moving emails from him to a different folder in my inbox. big mistake as i stopped to look at some. i found this one from 6 june. he broke up with me on 25 june. 19 days. less than three weeks later. how does this make any kind of sense??????


to put it in context it followed on from conversations at the start of our most recent difficult period:


ME: "i was just wondering why you would want to be in this relationship if you don't feel it will lead to the things you ultimately want? x"


HIM: "Bubs – how have you got into your head that I don’t feel it will lead to the things that I want? That’s not right – I’ve always said that I feel like we’re going in the right direction to get those things that we both want. If I didn’t think that there was a chance, I wouldn’t be in the relationship. Honestly. I don’t want to waste your time or mine. I love you. Please try and not have this all going round and round your head. All is good. Better than good and its going to get better still. x"



OWWWWWWWWW. i want him back.

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