WHY MEN WON’T COMMIT

MEN & COMMITMENT

WHY MEN WON’T COMMIT: WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

By Michael Gilbert

Commitment-shy men. It’s an age old issue, thesource of countless personal aches and social pains, leaving an endlesstrail of wrecked relationships in its wake and a universe ofwhat-might-have-beens. Women can be skittish about making a commitment,of course, but men have raised it to an art form. Why?

Evolutionists, looking for answers in our biology andnatural history, are inclined to see males as the all-terrain vehiclesof insecurity. Women’s bodies move to lunar rhythms and experience thegender reinforcing transformations of menstruation and pregnancy.Bearing one male seed at a time, sensing the ongoing responsibilitiesof parenting, females look to a settled future.

But the ancient jungles and savannas where the modernmale’s hard-wiring was installed were dangerous places, harshlandscapes of deadly warfare, fierce male competition and banishment,and widespread infant mortality. Spared the consequences of pregnancy,mindful of their offspring’s perilous prospects, a male strategy ofplanting seeds far and wide worked its way deep into the modern man’spsyche.

Or maybe men just figured out that sexual variety was the way to some real good times.

THE SEVEN REASONS MEN WON’T ENGAGE

1. ONE SEX PARTNER…FOR ETERNITY?
You’ve got to bekidding? Forever?! Never again may I frolic with another woman? Yikes!This prospect alone is sufficient to discourage many males, even thosewho rarely, if ever, get laid. Not without a fight will young malehunters surrender to this forbidding future.

2. KISS FREEDOM GOODBYE
Seeing himself entangledin interpersonal complications the 21st century male views commitmentas mostly limits and compromises. He won’t get to do what he wants alot of the time, a burden he’ll bear as the price of sexual intimacyfor only so long—or with a grudge.

3. SPACE AND TIME ARE NO LONGER HIS OWN
Suddenlythere are strange looking garments in the dryer and the bathroomcounter has been appropriated by bazaar instruments and ointments he’snever heard of. Nothing’s where it’s supposed to be and time is nowdevoted to stuff he never did and doesn’t want to do. Somehow he’sbecome responsible for someone else’s happiness.

4. HE HAS NO SOLID ROLE MODELS
He saw his fatherstruggling with these limitations—that is, if his father was around atall. There’s a good chance today’s maturing male grew up in a brokenhome and/or witnessed his father struggling with fidelity and theresponsibilities of providing for a wife and family.

5. HE SEES WOMEN AS COMPETITORS
A product oftoday’s politically-correct culture and educational system, young menoften see women as being the same as they are, except for some amusingdifferences in their plumbing system. In our “liberated” culture themodern man may not even have to pay for dinner, let alone commit toserious responsibility. And if he’s been through divorce and custodybattles the scars may take forever to heal.

6. HE GETS WHAT HE WANTS WITHOUT A COMMITMENT
You’ve heard this one before—it’s the old “why buy the cow if you get the milk for free” thing. Enough said.

7. HE’S NOT READY (THIS IS THE BIGGIE).
Therecomes a time when the modern man tires of the chase, sees friendsgetting married and senses time is passing. He begins to long for alife partner and a family. Men don’t commit when they find a compatiblepartner: they find a compatible partner when they’re ready to commit.This is what marriage-minded women need to look out for.

HE SAYS HE’S READY. DOES HE MEAN IT?

Maybe. Does it look like he’s tired of the dating ratrace? Will he accept something less than perfection? Or is he lookingfor Wonder Woman in a swimsuit model? Is there a sense he’s ready towork on problems? Are his assumptions about living together reasonable?Is he settled in a job or career, confident about meeting yourexpectations?
If you like the answers to most of thesequestions—and it will take some time to find out—the man in your lifeis marriage-minded. In that case, here are a few ideas to keep in mind.(If he’s not ready, you’re on your own.)

1. GIVE HIM SOME ROPE
It’s no big deal if his eyeswander once in a while. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t prize you or thinkyou’re hot; it means he’s a male. Encourage him go out with his malepals (you can head out with your girlfriends). Show him it’s not aprison he’s entering but a fulfilling adventure.

2. PICK “SERIOUS TALK” TIMES CAREFULLY
Men do notenjoy a lot of relationship processing. Do not sweat the small stuff,and resist the need to exhume past history. Instead talk only about thebig stuff, the issues that are really important to you. And bring thisup when he seems relaxed and open.

3. ULTIMATUMS ARE YOUR LAST RESORT
Except inrelatively rare circumstances, ultimatums and deadlines are useless,even destructive. Which doesn’t mean you have to live with currentcircumstances if they’re not to your taste. What it means is thatultimatums should be reasonable and—most important—you have to mean it.If your deadlines come and go, and you’re still there, you’ve announcedthat ultimatums aren’t really important. Not good.

On our progressive culture’s way to sexualequality young males have been relieved of many traditionalresponsibilities. At the same time, they’ve gained easier access to thesexual intimacy they crave. We are living in a time when little isasked of men. Which often means little is offered. Yet, as always, thewomb cries out in youthful women who long for a partner to share theburdens and joys of an enduring relationship, marriage and family. Toget there, women need to surmount both new social expectations andancient male instincts. If they succeed, both men and women will reapthe rewards.

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Michael Gilbert is Youand.me’s consultingeditor and author of The Disposable Male: Sex, Love and Money—YourWorld through Darwin’s Eyes. (www.thedisposablemale.com) He explores gender and relationship issues at the University of Southern California.