Many women have loved a man who cannot love back.
To put it simply, he's not just doing this to you.
He's done it to every woman he's ever been involved with.
COMMITMENT: To pledge, promise, or engage oneself in a sincere involvement.
PHOBIA: Persistent, irrational fear or dread of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.
COMMITMENTPHOBE: Person with a compelling, irrational fear of emotional intimacy.
What woman searching for love doesn't know the story? You finally find your Mr. Right. He loves you like you've always dreamed. He says the right words, does all the right things, and promises you “Happily ever after.” Then, he begins to leave you.
You swallow your pride and promise him more than he ever promised you, just so he will stay. You question your sanity for what was white is black; what was true is false; what was Mr. Right is, in reality, Mr. Wrong. Once you begin your long journey back to reality, you feel the gnawing fear that you may never trust the words “I love you,” again.
Michael's first conscious memory of his mother was playing at her knee as she sewed on her sewing machine. Michael's unconscious mind still secretly holds his sobs, pleas and tantrums that were never enough to attract her attention away from her work and towards him. To survive his despair, he learned to be a child comfortable with distance. That child remains, hiding deep in Michael's mind.
Today, Michael is a very handsome, charming, and successful banker who drives women nuts. He is unaware that he has a problem, much less that his childhood trauma set him up to crave what he fears most: sharing authentic emotional intimacy with a woman.
Michael appears to be a man on a quest for love. He dates often, and wines and dines women like a pro. He knows what a woman needs to feel safe. He brings flowers on a first date, cries like a baby on the second, and melts hearts with “I love you” on the third. In between are endless calls and text messages, bordering on obsessive. He is a master of seduction as he leads a woman out of her common sense reality into his faux fantasy land. Her reluctance interests him, her resistance intrigues him. GAME ON.
Michael professes he wants to marry. To prove it, he's been engaged three times, once coming frighteningly close to his actual wedding day. He told his future bride the devastating news a whole thirty six hours before he was to promise “Til death do us part.” In Michael's mind, this was only fair.
Despite all appearances to the contrary, Michael's mission is not love, but conquest. He rushes into a relationship with such vigor a woman finds it hard to resist him, if for no other reason than wanting to believe her fairy tale prince has come. But, the moment she lets her heart begin to dream of forever, Michael is saddling up his white steed, ready to bolt from the confinement of the castle walls. All she knows is that he suddenly doesn't call when he says he will. He doesn't arrive when he says he will. He begins to find fault with her. He begins to avoid her. She is clueless as to what has happened, or why. The same man, who last week swore he could not live without her, now finds excuses to stay away.
Commitmentphobia defies all sense of logic because it was birthed in early childhood, which is not a time of logic, but of feelings. Our earliest emotions are ruled by only one thing, the instinctual desperation to survive. When a young child is soothed by consistently safe and secure bonding with his parents, bliss happens. However, the indescribable emotional trauma of being a rejected, emotionally abandoned child detours nature's plan away from future healthy adult bonding and towards a life-long, fear-based need to avoid enduring such pain ever again. For a commitmentphobic male, early maternal rejection holds him captive to the paradox of craving what he fears most: love and connection. This includes Michael, who addictively runs towards love, but, when love runs towards him, the unconscious memory of his mother's refusal to nurture overrides nature.
So, his commitmentphobic cycle continues unabated, and with gusto. As the hopes of each mystified woman are crushed by his irrational reversal, Michael remains clueless and detached. He does not intentionally set out to hurt women. He truly wants intimacy. His very DNA wants intimacy. But, as he watches his current frustrated lover express her disbelief and emotional pain over such betrayal, Michael's memory bank pulls up the image of his unavailable, rejecting mother. Unknowingly, his newest ex-lover has innocently and tragically triggered his childhood pain. He responds by pulling his emotional trigger on her.
Michael cannot link the pain he causes women to the pain from his mother's refusal to attend to his childhood needs. But, his ritual of first winning, then rejecting the current “mother” figure, ensures he wins the ultimate game of “gotcha.” Each woman, in her turn, becomes the powerless, pleading child, begging for his affection, while he, the grown up, holds the power to refuse her. As he once begged, woman now begs. GAME OVER. START A NEW GAME.
Commitmentphobic men find it difficult, dare we say, impossible to:
o Become dependent on another
o Tolerate intimate partners who, quite naturally, want intimacy
They run the spectrum of being somewhat uncomfortable to bolting like the runaway bride when confronted with what they consider too much closeness and intimacy. But, every single one exploits the trust of the women they woo.
Tell Tale Signs You're Being Pursued by a Commitmentphobic Man
BEFORE THE 1ST DATE:
1. You may not find him that attractive, interesting, and/or irresistible
2. The more you appear reluctant the more intense his pursuit
ON THE 1ST DATE:
1. He is charming, attentive, sensitive, witty, generous, protective…… i.e. PERFECT
2. He makes you feel beautiful, special, intelligent, irresistible, safe……. .i.e. PERFECT
AFTER the 1st date:
1. You learn he has a history of failed relationships, which he may rationalize as “her fault.”
2. He sets up constant contact through emails, text messages, phone calls, flower deliveries, greeting cards, and showing up just to surprise you.
3. He is comfortable with emotions, including crying about his childhood and past relationships.
4. He may have, or profess to have, a close relationship with his mother.
3. Before you are expecting it, he hints about making an exclusive commitment to each other.
4. You test him, and he passes. Examples: He helps you move; gives up his “boys' night out;” picks up your mom at the airport; holds you after sex….. all night; fixes you breakfast the morning after; tells you you're beautiful when you look awful; kisses the tears from your cheeks.
5. He easily talks of a future together, including tomorrow, next week, next year and forever.
6. He says he wants children, or wishes you had been the mother of his children.
7. Every thing you've ever dreamed of, and been terrified to trust could come true, is coming true.
8. You have never felt so loved, unconditionally.
AFTER the LAST DATE:
1. He repeats any or all of the above with you in much less time
2. Or, he repeats any or all of the above with your replacement
The phrase “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” was never truer than when you are being pursued by a commitmentphobic man. I know those words are hard to read. I know how desperately you want to believe his promises are true. I know how desperately you want to believe you have finally found the one you've searched for all of your life. I know you can, and likely will, invent all sorts of reasons why he's turned away from you. I know because I have been where you are. Sister, if you stay, you will beg to be loved and your denial will bleed your self-worth dry.
How do you disentangle from his web of lies, deceit, false hope and fear?
1. Open your tear-filled eyes.
2. See this episode as a full frontal abuse of your trust and affection.
3. Totally disengage from any and all contact with him.
4. Run the emotional gamut from paralyzing grief to empowering rage.
5. Then, don't waste your suffering.
You, the woman, are the only one responsible for protecting your self-worth by embracing your dignity with an unbreakable promise to your own emotional well-being, first, last and always. This promise is your golden key to staying safe, focused and on the path that leads to your true prince. Finding him requires time, testing, and tenacity, but you will recognize him. He'll be the one patiently waiting until you are absolutely sure you have found him. He will be the man with whom you can trust your truth and your tears; the man who will keep your soul safe.
Blessings on your way,
Morgan Delaney, M.S.
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