What Causes Commitment Issues in Relationships?

Updated on July 6, 2018
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok shares his insight about relationships that he learned from his studies of social behavior and from personal experience.

Men have various reasons for failing to make a commitment to get married. However, commitment issues are sometimes based on other things that are usually overlooked. This discussion should add come clarity.

There is a general consensus that a fear of commitment indicates one is commitment-phobic, but what about men who have no trouble with committing to other things in life?

For example: making a good home, helping other people, and working on their career, to name a few. There's never a fear to commit to these things. Do men only have a fear of a love relationship? Here are five things to consider.

What's Getting in the Way of Commitment?

Something else with their thought process may be getting in the way. In some cases they get stuck with their own stubbornness and end up losing a good opportunity with a great person.

I know. I've been there. We do know what we want. We do indeed want commitment! However, we need to realize it while the opportunity is still available.

Something else occurs that slows down the process of reaching a commitment. That is a failure to communicate and share feelings with one another. This requires both partners to be willing to share. It's a two-way street.

Discussing the feelings and thoughts that we have can open the door for the partners to work on a solution, rather than letting the relationship stagnate until one or the other decides to leave.

A Behavior That Can Sabotage a Relationship

I'm going to describe a personal experience as an example. It helped me learn a lesson, but only after giving it thought many years later.

I was in relationships were I became frustrated with one thing or another, sometimes for good reasons where there were real red flags. However, there were also times when I was unwilling to recognize the quality of the woman I was with.

Because of that, I lost out on what might have been the wonderful life-long relationship that I always wanted. For example, one girlfriend was still living with her parents at the age of 37. We had a close relationship with mutual love and understanding. We appreciated each other's strengths as well as our weaknesses.

I felt like it was a safe haven being with her. We were discussing the possibility of marriage, but I wanted to see how she would function living on her own first. I wanted to be sure that she knew how to take care of herself.

I never considered how she had already proven she was world-savvy.
I never considered how she had already proven she was world-savvy. | Source

How silly I was. Looking back on it now, I realize that I never considered all the ways in which she had already proven that she was world-savvy.

Anyway, who cares if she didn’t learn certain things living at home. She can learn later. We all continue to learn new things throughout life anyway.

After all, when I started out on my own at the age of 20, I remember how quickly I picked up knowledge of the three C’s…cooking, cleaning and caring for myself.

I noticed how quickly dust appears from nowhere and in no time I understood the importance of keeping a clean home. I discovered, early on, that cooking leaves residue on the kitchen floor and it needs to be mopped regularly.

As for cooking, 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! The point is that anyone can learn how to cook eventually.

Overlooking Positive Traits Can Inhibit Commitment

As for this wonderful girlfriend – we had several discussions about my need to see how she functioned on her own. I explained how I thought that she should live on her own first, but she didn't accept my reasons why I would not let her move in with me direct from living with her parents.

She didn’t feel that it made any difference living on her own first. I was being stubborn about it and the relationship eventually ended. Looking back on it now, I realize I was being silly. The next guy she dated recognized how special she was and married her.

I was really being silly. You know how hindsight is 20-20? Well, now I look back on that experience and I think how great it would have been teaching her things she didn’t know. What difference did it make that she may be lacking some real-world skills? Why should that have mattered? Why didn’t I think that way then?

For that matter, she really wasn’t lacking anything! What Was I Thinking? I wasn’t considering all the wonderful things I had already learned about her.

She knew enough to pay attention to other people’s needs. I saw that with the way she helped her friends, her parents, and yes, even me.

She took the time to go out and get things for people when she saw they needed something. She was attentive to my needs by her own observation. No request ever had to be made. It was simply natural for her.

Concern About Minor Issues Can Cause Loss of Focus

When there are good things going on 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 own mind.

The fact that my girlfriend lived at home at the age of 37 was really not a red flag at all. I just made it into one. I somehow forgot about all the wonderful things I already knew about her. I was stubbornly focusing on my silly need to see her living on her own.

I was able to think of these things clearly years later, but then it was too late.
I was able to think of these things clearly years later, but then it was too late. | Source

I was able to think of these things clearly years after we broke up, realizing that it really didn’t matter if she lived on her own or not. She had all the necessary qualities and that's all that should have mattered.

I was simply not allowing myself to be aware at the time, and when I realized it later, it was too late.

So what are the lessons here?

We should consciously be paying attention to everything that’s good about our mate, and the relationship in general.

We shouldn’t overlook the positive. If we do, we may end up focusing on the unpleasant things and make those things more serious than they are.

Failure to Give Full Attention Due to Weak Emotional Availability

If we don't learn from this we might continue to let silly things stand in our way. Emotional availability is required to focus on what's going on and giving a relationship full attention. I realize now that I didn't give that particular relationship my attention to recognize the good in it.

There are indeed real red flags in some cases with certain people, and I've experienced my share of them too. That tends to set us up to expect it with every new relationship, and it doesn't necessarily have to turn out that way.

The next person we meet could very well have their act together and may just be the exceptional person we want to spend the rest of our life with. My conclusion with this thought process is to be ready to consider that.

Review of Lessons Learned

  1. Pay attention to everything that’s good and don't overlook positive things.
  2. Don't be stubborn about silly things.
  3. Recognize the quality of the person you're with.
  4. Stay focused on what you really want and ignore minor issues.
  5. Give the relationship full attention.

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.

Questions & Answers

    © 2009 Glenn Stok

    What Are Your Thoughts About Commitment?

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      • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

        Glenn Stok 

        10 years ago from Long Island, NY

        You are very much in tune with the problem, anglfire. I like your additional thoughts about it going so much further beyond physical, emotional and love. Relationships are truly very complex. Your comments reinforce what I further wrote about in my relationship book. I am also honored to have you as a fan. Thanks for your comments and for being a fan.

      • anglfire693 profile image


        10 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

        I completely understand your story Glenn, from experience. It seems that a lot of men are like that today. Yes, the girl has to be attractive and they have to have something, but then even beyond that, there are all these qualifications and conditions and if you don't fit some perfect mold, for some reason, they will move on to the next girl who does, even if he isn't as attracted to her physically, mentally and emotionally. But maybe she owns her home and I live in an apartment or maybe she doesn't have kids and I do or maybe she has a better job....and it's not just me, I have male friends that I hear do this and girlfriends who guys have done it to them. I think this is why so many marriages end in divorce today because men are more concerned about things that you can work out, figure out, work out together and the whole soul mate, perfect match, match made in heaven, the perfect fit, the whole, "you complete me" theory just doesn't hold the weight that it should...it goes so much further beyond just physical, emotional connections and love so often now a days! And I honestly believe that is why so many marriages end in divorce because people are picking their mates on factors that can be worked on or come and go, change, end...but the person, they are always going to be that person.

      • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

        Glenn Stok 

        10 years ago from Long Island, NY

        LRobbins, Thanks for being the first to comment on my hub. You hit it right on the button, and I think that "focusing on the big picture" is the key to commitment.

      • LRobbins profile image


        10 years ago from Germany

        Thanks for sharing your story. I agree with your advice and that it's easy to get hung up on little things and not focus on the big picture.


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