Can't make a commitment

Originally Published: February 16, 1995 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: March 5, 2014
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Hi Alice,

I just discovered this service, and hope you can help me. I'm a grad student (mid-twenties) and was very deeply involved with a man several years older than me. Although it was a monogamous relationship — we had a wonderful and very fulfilling sex life, and were generally very happy in each others company — he was unwilling to make a firm promise not to date other people if he found someone he liked. I broke up with him because I didn't like what this ambiguity was doing to me — making me extremely possessive, jealous, etc. We have both been hurting a great deal since then and were planning on getting back together... but he backed out because he doesn't feel able to make a commitment. Part of this is cultural (he's Indian, I'm American), and part of it is probably developmental, as he didn't start dating until quite late by American standards.

In any case, we were considering marriage at one point last summer, and I am still deeply in love with him. He still has very strong feelings for me as well, but I get the sense that the fear of commitment is paralyzing him. I'm at the point where trying to let go and get on with my life seems to be the only viable option, but I'd love to hear your suggestions and comments.

—Heartbroken

Dear Heartbroken,


Above all, it is important that you be honest with yourself and with each other. Take a step back and think about what you want from this relationship. A sincere conversation about what you each want out of a relationship may help you decide whether or not being together is the best thing to do. Although this process may be difficult, don’t be afraid to stay true to yourself and communicate your feelings.

Throughout this process, it is important to continue to pursue your own interests. Rather than living in fear of his failure to commit, spread your relationship wings and fly to new heights. You never know — maybe someone else will come along, or maybe he'll come around. It will only happen while you're pursuing your own hopes and dreams, not while you're anxiously awaiting an answer from him.

You may find that your beau wants to be with you, but would rather skip out on the C-word (commitment, that is). If you decide that this is fine and dandy with you, it may be best to quit belaboring the commitment issue. You might even find that spending time developing a relationship, having fun, and enjoying each other is all that counts. However, if you continue to have conflicting ideas about commitment, you may simply be better off parting ways.

Considering marriage to each other is a very mature conversation to have. But remember, the actual words themselves — commitment and marriage — are not as important as the mutual feelings that the two of you have for each other. It's important that you both have the time to know each other and yourselves well enough to make the best decisions for your future.
 

Alice