The Ultimate Christmas Relationship Survival Guide
"The Nine Signs of a Non-committer"
Once upon a time we wondered if celebrity rumours would turn out to be true and if Jemima Khan would wed her very own Hollywood hunk Hugh Grant. That didn't happen and when I analysed the newspaper reports about them the signs looked ominous if her intention was a second marriage. There’d been much speculation suggesting she may have a long wait since Hugh might be a non-committer at heart - and that speculation turned out to be correct.
Jemima certainly would be in good company. In my work I’ve coached many women who believe they’re with a man who won't commit. Usually they want to explore issues like are they correct in believing this, why he won't commit and how to make him commit. Of course men also experience commitment issues with some women but this scenario is less common.
Why do more women seem to face commitment issues nowadays? To simplify a complex aspect of human relationships I firmly believe that having so much choice and opportunity makes many men reluctant to settle down. This is borne out by recent social research showing that men are increasingly staying single longer and there are diminishing numbers of marriages. Presently the average man gets married over the age of 30.
With so much opportunity to enjoy leisure pursuits, to travel, to change careers, and to have casual sex, coupled with the frenetic pace of life that's detrimental to forming lasting relationships, many men see commitment as a millstone around their neck. Why when they have so much living to do should they choose to do share it with one person? Also with society having had to accept there are different ways of having a relationship many men figure they'll do things on their own terms. This rather selfish view permeates much of our lives generally and certainly relationships specifically.
Another question women frequently ask me is how to tell if a man actually has a commitment or some other issue. I've noted at a psychological and emotional level there are nine signs of a non-committer to watch for. This is by no means an exhaustive list but certainly critical signs if you're wondering about the man you’ve fallen for.
1. Their best friend is female
Not only in Hugh Grant's case is his best friend Liz Hurley but she's also his ex. Non-committers view an enduring friendship with a female as proof that they can have long-term relationships with women. He believes a girlfriend can’t turn around and tell him he doesn't know how to relate to women when he's always hanging out with his gal-pal. This provides a defence mechanism that the puts the onus on his girlfriend - she must be the problem since he can certainly relate to women generally!
2. He's guarded about meeting your family or introducing you to his
There comes a point where we can quite naturally want to meet each other's friends and family. The non-committer will dream up every excuse under the sun why he doesn't want you to meet his family, e.g., that they’re "difficult", they live far away and he doesn't see them much anyway. He’ll also back out of meeting yours with some excuse or other.
3. He's had a marriage early in life that failed
I call this the "George Clooney phenomenon". Men who had an early taste of marriage that was unhappy often swear off ever marrying again. This can fool you. Many women think, "he's done it before so maybe he'll change his mind and do it again." Don't hold your breath!
4. He's good with women and women love him
It's incredibly aggravating the way a non-committer gets on so well with women. They tend to be incredibly popular and women fall for them easily. Again this is part of his defence mechanisms where he can claim that "he adores women" when you're asking why he won't commit to a serious relationship.
5. He uses material goods to make up for bad behaviour
When behaved badly the non-committer will use his imagination to buy you a gift as an apology. This means that rather than sort out the issue properly by giving you support, understanding and love he can get away with what is actually a shallow effort.
6. His work, friends or interests come first
Ultimately if you're involved with a non-committer you'll find you come second to something else in his life. Be it forging on with his career, his fantastic circle of friends or his love of, e.g., mountain climbing, you'll have a sense that's his priority – sadly not you.
7. There's something secretive about him
This is very different to taking a back seat to other things in his life. Non-committers also have an elusive quality about what they’re up to or doing with their time. Sometimes it's hard to put your finger on it but if your intuition springs to life giving you messages like, "what does he do with his time?" or "I really don't know that much about what he gives up to," you can tick this box.
8. He's undeniably good in bed
Non-committers use their great sexual chemistry as part of their self-protection policy. It keeps a woman hooked believing that the sexual passion equals passionate love. But on closer examination the emotional chemistry is definitely lacking. Don't let the good sex fool you into thinking it's the real thing.
9. His actions speak louder than words
A non-committer is skilled at saying the right things but doesn't necessarily do them. You'll find over time that he’s good at saying what you want to hear but nothing happens and promises fail to materialise. A common example is that he “talks the talk" about moving in together and, e.g., the sort of place that’d work but it never goes further.
Time told us that Hugh never "walked the walk" for Jemima. Ultimately if the man you love won't commit to a solid relationship review these nine signs to determine whether he's a non-committer. If your fears are confirmed but you're determined to keep banging your head against a brick wall you have to question if you’ve an issue about letting go. Because it's time to do so if he hasn't taken the opportunities to deepen things with you.
Published in The Express Newspaper
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