Commitment Phobe

Dear Dr. Darcy:I just moved in with my boyfriend of 2 years. I know that he has always had some commitment issues. I'm the first person he's dated for so long or said I love you to. He went to his first ever therapy session [on] Monday. He's telling me that he doesn't know if he is unsure about our relationship or if it's commitment issues rearing their head again. He feels trapped and under a mountain of obligations (although I think those are self imposed) So I don't know how to work through this or sit tight while he figures it out. Any suggestions? Thanks!

ANSWER

People with 'commitment issues' typically feel significant pressure to be in a committed relationship. This pressure, like most baggage, comes from within, but because the person is predisposed to a 'commitment fight-or-flight' response, it doesn't take much to ignite the feelings.

Your guy has told you that he feels 'trapped under a mountain of obligations.' Focus on his baggage and he'll feel overly examined, more trapped, and he'll remain frozen and unavailable to you. I don't personally like this option, being the control freak that I am.

Option two involves focusing on yourself. Not so easy when you feel as though someone else holds the keys to your happiness (and your home) on their person. Nothing is easy my friend. Nonetheless, it's the script I'm going to give you.

Let your guy perseverate on his commitment mishegas (craziness) in peace. In the absence of focusing on him, use this time to do some end-of-year reflecting. Where are you in your life? What were your personal and professional goals for 2010? Did you meet some of those goals? What changes would you like to see in 2011? As you ask yourself these questions, be sure to keep your focus and your answers on yourself - not on him. If your 2010 goal was to move in with the boyfriend, I'm here to tell you that you need some new goals which focus exclusively on you. Anytime your happiness is predicted on another's cooperation, you put yourself in a compromised position and you miss an opportunity to take full responsibility for your life. Essentially, you screw yourself.

Give the guy the space he needs to clear his head while simultaneously working on yourself, and you just might witness those commitment issues fade away in the weeks ahead.