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Nicole is an on-screen relationship and mental health expert as well as a psychological consultant for TV shows.

Is your partner afraid of commitment? Here's how to tell and what to do next

July 18 2017

By Dani-Elle Dube

While some men and women have no problem settling down – and even relish in the idea of committing to one partner for the rest of their lives – others shudder at the mere mention of the terrifying c-word.

It’s a frustrating scenario when two people with differing views on commitment come together and begin a relationship, especially if one has greater expectations for the future than the other.

“Commitment often means monogamy,” Nicole McCance, relationship expert, says. “There’s an agreement that they will only be in a relationship with that one person. It often means something long-term and that there’s a bit of planning for the future going on.”

But if one person in the relationship has a fear of commitment, it doesn’t always mean they have something against the other partner – in fact, it could be rooted in several other factors.

“Some people are afraid of ending up like their parents who divorced or didn’t stay together and they worry especially if the divorce was hard on them,” McCance says. “Another fear is that they can be afraid of getting hurt. Sometimes these people will end the relationship just as it’s getting serious. There’s also the fear of getting bored and the fear of choosing the wrong person and feeling trapped.”

As McCance explains, however, both partners are not always aware of the other’s intentions with the relationship. So how do you know if you’re dating a commitment-phobe?

Look out for these three signs, McCance says.

1. They come up with good excuses

“They say things like you guys need to get to know each other a bit more moving in, for example,” McCance says. “Or they’ll say they don’t believe in marriage and they go into why they don’t believe in it.”

The thing about that, McCance says, is that their excuses are often “really good ones.”

“You might buy into them for a little while,” she says. “But if there’s no change then you might want to delve deeper.”

2. Their dating track record isn’t the best

Look at their dating history, McCance suggests. This will give you a better idea of how they feel about commitment, especially if they’ve never moved passed a certain step.

“Do they have a history of being in long relationships that never take the commitment leap?” McCance asks. “Or just look at their history with you. Are they putting off moving in again and again?”

3. They’re avoiding the subject

They might not like talking about it or you notice that their priorities lie elsewhere, McCance points out.

“Are they spending money elsewhere when they should, in fact, be spending it on the house or saving for the marriage,” McCance says.

What to do

So you’ve determined your that your partner has no intentions to move forward – now what?

There are few things people should do in these cases.

First, be clear about what you want.

“The other person cannot read your mind,” McCance says. “I see it all the time where the man, for example, is surprised by the woman’s expectations. I also hear from one person that the other partner should ‘just know’ what they want and they ‘shouldn’t have to tell them,’ but you do have to tell them.”

Second, find out what underlying issues are there that make the other person so afraid of committing.

This can be done through a couples counselling session.

And third, give the relationship a timeline.

“Give it a timeline so you don’t resent the person,” McCance advises. “Because you won’t only resent the other person but you’ll resent yourself for staying way longer than you should have.”

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                Nicole McCance Psychology

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