Consider this. I've got two closets in my bedroom. It's a luxury that I'm very grateful to have. Once, when I was showing my apartment to a girlfriend's friend, I jokingly referred to my closets as "his and his" closets. Two days later, my (now ex) girlfriend was telling me that I was commitment-phobic. I was flabbergasted that an off-the-cuff remark triggered such a harsh accusation.
I always thought that commitment-phobia was a media-fanned fake phobia that people made up when someone didn't want to be with someone. Researching the topic can take you to all kinds of strange places. You'll find the usual well-worn rants on how all men are commitment-phobic and you can even find hypnotherapists who promise to cure you of your phobia.
While I think the general response to the issue goes a little over the top, there are definitely some things worth knowing about spotting someone who may be averse to the "C" word.
While the bulk of information on the subject targets men as the ones with the phobia, let's get one thing straight: commitment-phobes (or CPs) come in both flavors.
Audrey Chapman, author of Seven Attitude Adjustments to Finding a Loving Man, goes on record and outlines the traits of four types of women whose commitment-phobia can become a problem.
The first is the "Pity Party-Goer. She's always whining and complaining, setting herself up in relationships that couldn't work so she can keep proving to herself that relationships don't work."
The second type is what she calls The Boomerang. "She keeps leaving and returning and leaving and returning to the same failing relationship... that's her way of avoiding commitment."
Thirdly, we follow the trail of The Detective "She is in constant search of the perfect man, the best man, the macho man, the gorgeous man, the professional man, the well-dressed man and the man with the slamming body... If she meets a man who is well endowed, has a nice body, is professional, makes good money and seems to be attentive and kind, but has one false eye, she doesn't want him."
Finally, Chapman illustrates the Picky Picker. "She finds a suitable man and then picks him apart piece-by-piece. He doesn't drive the right car, he doesn't make enough money, he's bald, he's too short, he has too much belly. In the end, no one meets her stringent requirements."
Be honest, do you recognize any women in the depictions outlined above? Yeah, me too. So, let's just remember, commitment-phobia occurs with both genders.
Spotting a Commitment-phobe
So, how do you recognize a CP who won't be able to latch on for the whole ride? While it's not an exact science, there are some tell-tale signs that you should keep an eye out for. In addition to Chapman's above descriptions, which can be applied to both men and women, this checklist will get you started.
1. Doesn't Own Anything
The CP stays away from financial and time commitments as well as relationships. That means pets are out of the question and they'd rather rent things (like homes) even though they may have the ability to buy them.
CPs tend to work in careers that give them a lot of latitude and space.
3. Gradual Personality Changes
While CPs come off as very charming at first, they gradually try (often without knowing it) to sabotage the relationship by either becoming distant or argumentative.
4. Won't Plan Ahead
Making plans for a month or two in the future goes against the CP's nature. That would show a level of commitment that they're uncomfortable with.
5. Keeps You Away From Their Circle
While a CP may be very charming with your friends and family, they don't think you're going to be in their life for very long, so they'll do whatever they can to dissuade you from either meeting or engaging at length with their close friends and family.
Because they may not value your relationship, CPs can often be late for dates or may cancel them outright at the last minute.
Not all CPs know that they're CPs. They tend to follow a pattern of going all-out to win someone over and then spurning that person once they've been "caught." This can take place over the course of a week, a few months or even years.
And of course, if your boyfriend refers to his two bedroom closets as "his and his" closets, you may be in trouble. On the other hand, he could just be making a joke.