Updated date:

Why Men Are Not Sure About Commitment to Marriage


Glenn Stok studies topics on self-awareness and emotional well-being. He writes about it to help with mindfulness and eliminate self-doubt.


Commitment phobia can occur when men subconsciously overlook the positive aspects of a potential mate and are not sure about marriage. I’ll discuss the following points that trigger the problem and give you an example to help understand men’s fears of commitment.

  1. Understanding Commitment Issues in Men
  2. Lack of communication about feelings.
  3. Overlooking everything that's good.
  4. Not feeling emotionally attached.
  5. Not giving the relationship full attention.
  6. Imagining unrealistic faults in a partner.
  7. Poor judgment of a potential future.

Understanding Commitment Issues in Men

Men who are not sure about getting married have no trouble committing to other things in life, such as making a good home, helping people, and working on their careers. There's never a fear of committing to these things. So why do issues crop up when dealing with commitment to a relationship?

They have various reasons for failing to commit to a permanent relationship and get married. It's usually a mindset focused on problems, which doesn't help get past the concerns they have. This discussion should add some clarity for men and help recognize what they may be overlooking.

Lack of Communication About Feelings

Discussing one's feelings and thoughts can open the door for partners to work on a solution, rather than let the relationship stagnate until one decides to leave.

When one can discuss their feelings and tell their partner what's troubling them, they both are more capable of arriving and a mutual understanding. A significant function of communication is the sharing of emotional states.1

In some cases, men get stuck and can't share their feelings, especially when it deals with their emotions.

Communication is imperative. It's crucial to share emotional feelings, and both partners must be willing to discuss what's on their mind. It's a two-way street. If we are in a relationship with a non-communicator, that's a real problem that needs attention.

Overlooking Everything That's Good

People tend to remember disappointments without any effort. But why is it that we forget the wonderful experiences we have with someone?

If we ignore the positive things in a relationship, we may end up focusing on the unpleasant things and make those more extreme in our minds than they are. It's better to consciously pay attention to everything good about our mate and the relationship in general.

Not Feeling Emotionally Attached

If one doesn’t feel emotionally attached, they will not make an effort to make the relationship last.2

That could mean their partner isn't the right one, but they can only determine that with open and honest communication. Talking about the future of the relationship and sharing deep thoughts about its future is key to making the relationship permanent.

Not Giving the Relationship Full Attention

The person we are with could very well have their act together and might be the exceptional person we want to live with for the rest of our life. The only way we would know that is to be emotionally available.

We need to be deeply immersed emotionally to be aware of our feelings about the relationship. We would notice the good things that we might otherwise overlook. Only then can we appreciate our partner for what they bring to the relationship.

That observation would create a definite feeling of joy and comfort. In my opinion, there's no way one would hesitate to make that kind of relationship permanent.

Imagining Unrealistic Faults in a Partner

I'm going to describe a personal experience to give an example.

I was in relationships where I became frustrated with one thing or another, sometimes for good reasons where there were real red flags. However, there were times when I was unwilling to consider the good character of my girlfriend.

Here's the story: My girlfriend was still living with her parents at the age of 37. We had mutual love and understanding, and we appreciated each other's strengths and weaknesses. I felt like it was a safe haven being with her—what a wonderful feeling.

We discussed the possibility of marriage, but I thought that she should live on her own first. I had this silly notion of wanting to see how she functioned on her own first.

How silly that was. Who cares if she didn't know certain things because she was still with her parents? She can learn later.

When I moved out on my own at the age of 20, I quickly learned the three C's—cooking, cleaning, and caring for myself.

I remember when I first cooked rice and didn't realize how much it expands. I ended up making enough rice for a whole week! I noticed how quickly dust appears from nowhere, and I learned the importance of keeping a clean home. I also learned how to schedule my bedtime so I'd feel fresh and ready for work the next day.

The point I'm making is that anyone can learn how to handle things eventually.

I wasn't considering all the wonderful things I had already known about her. She was kind, considerate, easygoing, and paid attention to other people's needs. What more could one ask?

Imagining unrealistic faults can sabotage the process of leading to commitment.

Focusing on problems and concerns doesn't help much.

Focusing on problems and concerns doesn't help much.

How to Avoid Poor Judgment of a Potential Future

When good things exist with your partner, and you know in your heart that you have a quality relationship, don’t let minor issues appear to be red flags that you are just making up in your mind.

With the example I just mentioned, living at home with her parents at the age of 37 was not a red flag. I just made it into one. I was judgmental and overlooked all the great things I already knew about her. I was stubbornly focusing on my silly need to see her living independently.

Stubborn desires with minor issues can lead to commitment issues. The only way to avoid that is to get reassurance that things will work out. That requires communication by discussing the thoughts that one might have and expressing how it makes them feel.

False reassurance, however, could create more commitment issues. Once partners openly share their thoughts and receive validation for their feelings, they might be more comfortable with the results.3

In Conclusion

Men generally do want to settle down and build a life together to have beautiful memories to look back on later. However, they need to realize it while the opportunity exists.

Commitment comes more naturally when we consider the good things. Make an effort to direct your focus on the positive characteristics of your partner.


  1. Eglantine Julle-Daniere. (Sept 02, 2019). “Communicating Emotions.” Psychology Today
  2. Crystal Raypole. Reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D. (September 30, 2019). “How to Recognize and Get Over Commitment Issues.” Healthline.com
  3. John Amodeo Ph.D. (August 5, 2018). “Why It's OK to Seek Reassurance.” Psychology Today

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Glenn Stok

Related Articles