By Lori Bizzoco for

After 38 years of being single and feeling like a real-life Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride, I finally settled down and got married.  Thankfully, I met a man who was willing to help me work through my dating demons.  One of the most common reasons for failed relationships stems from commitment phobia.

If you’re in a relationship that’s gone through all the seasons and there’s no sign that you’ll be moving in together before the next snowflake falls, you may be with someone who can’t commit.

With fall upon us and school ready to begin, the following are some love lessons to determine if you are attracted to, dating or in deep with a commitment-phobe.

Lesson #1:  They Don’t Commit; They Quit

A commitment-phobe is a person who cannot settle down with one person or in a relationship.  Even if the partnership is growing and showing signs that the union is working, these folks don’t have the ability to take dating to a higher level.

Commitment-phobes should not be confused with those who break off a relationship with someone because they don’t see a future together.  The non-committal personality comes with a lot of conflict and turmoil given they are unable to display emotional intimacy or marriage even when they have found “the one.”

Mary and John were together for five years until she gave him an ultimatum to propose. He knew he was with a great woman, but that only added to his fears.  He didn’t feel good enough for Mary and broke things off when it became too much pressure.  Six months later, John married someone else, and two months later he filed for divorce.  His pattern is a vicious cycle of being safely single.

Lesson #2:  Fear Takes Over

Many people who have trouble finding a stable relationship suffer from fear.  For some, it’s being petrified of being with one person forever.  Others are scared of losing their independence or being hurt or rejected.  Although everyone has a different reason, people with commitment phobia usually have a history of loss or bereavement, abuse, childhood trauma, divorce or separation.

Mike’s mother died when he was nine and his father introduced him to several replacement moms over the years, but his dad never remarried or committed seriously to anyone.  As a child, Mike grew up believing that relationships weren’t meant to last and his fear of emotional intimacy carried into his own adult relationships with women.

Lesson #3: Signs, Signs Everywhere, There Are Signs

Are you with someone whose background is sprinkled with short-term, unfulfilled relationships?  Or, maybe your better half has been in two or three long-term commitments, but never married.  Either one of these could be signs that you’re with someone who may fall short on putting their foot forward when it comes to walking down the aisle.

Maybe your partner is longing for space and independence, or they put their job or career first.  They probably have many excuses for why the relationship isn’t working, but they never want to break up.  Or, maybe you have a long distance arrangement and only see each other on weekends.  This all sounds so obvious to an outsider but when you’re with a commitment-phobe, they say and do things that make you feel loved and special.  They tell you that they’ll move in or marry you someday, but as the years go by, you finally realize that the “someday” never comes.

Lesson #4: Listening to The Clues

You may hear from someone who is scared to make a commitment these common phrases: “I need some space.”  “I’m not ready.”  “Men are such jerks.”

Other clues like “I’m under a lot of stress right now” or “I’m not financially ready,”  may not be as telling.  After all, stress and finances are reasonable truths, even to the person who is saying them.  The bottom line is that many couples get married even when they are feeling pressure or low on money.  If your soul mate is using these reasons in your conversations about the future, you need to evaluate the entire situation to see if there is potential (signs, history, clues, etc).

Start journaling the relationship, especially those things that worry you into wondering if the person you’re with is dodging the permanent seal of your union.  By recording your interactions, it could lead you to the truth.

Lesson #5: Helping Your Relationship Stick

Talk to your partner about your concerns and schedule a visit with a counsellor who is experienced in this area.  It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes commitment-phobes just need to know that you will stick with them through good and bad before they take the next step.  Let them know that you’ll never leave them and that you are serious about marriage and the forever-after.  Run by a scene of what life would be like, showing them that it won’t change as drastically as they think it may.  Explain to them that you are not interested in controlling your life together and that you are anxious to help each other grow as individuals.  These tips may help you work through some of the road bumps.  After all, non-committers are deeply longing for a permanent relationship too; they’re just too scared to do it.

Lori is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY.  She is currently working on her memoir in progress, Single to Baby. is a lifestyle destination where singles get advice, discounts and connect with other singles, and share their inspiring personal success stories. To read more articles about the single lifestyle, click here! Or follow us on Facebook®.com and for updates, advice and information!

  1. I was trying to bring my long time boyfriend to the counselor. He eventually went by himself (although we discussed to go together), and started complaing about his previous marriage, divorce, devotion to his son, etc. I think he tried to find an exuse to hide his inability to create a family. According to him I was the right one for him, ‘the dream’ of his life. But he did not have any desire to make this dream comes true.


  2. i recently met a man, who i thought was ready for a long-term relationship… but after 4 months, one night i said to him that i feel that he is “emotionally distant”… the next day he e-mailed me saying that it was over and listed numerous reasons in that i was negatively contributing to this relationship…not a one on his behalf… i still miss him… and since we’re older just maybe he’ll think about my comment

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