He hesitated?

(266 Posts)
stubbedtoe Tue 11-May-21 15:19:09

Basically this.

I've been in a classic "commitment phobe" relationship for two years and I finally gave him the "all or nothing" message.

I am not saying he wasn't committed in terms of dating other people and so on, but more in moving forward with major life commitments like moving in or buying a home.

He was always a good boyfriend, but he has an almost phobic reaction to serious commitment because he says in the past it's never worked out and he found it hard to leave so ended up miserable for years.

Initially, when I gave him the ultimatum, I cut off contact and within 36 hours he sent me a message to say he was so sorry, he really loved me, I was the love of his life and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He even proposed and then started suggesting we look at houses together.

Then a couple of days later he seemed to second guess himself and asked for time and space away from each other so he could be sure his decision wasn't a knee-jerk reaction to the idea of losing me sad

I was devastated really by this. I felt a bit like surely you know if you love someone and want to be with them or not?

We are currently in "no contact", but he messaged me after 3 days to ask if I was okay and I didn't respond.

I am really confused here over whether or not I am being a big baby and maybe he is just being reasonable and taking time to think through a major life commitment.


If a man loves you and wants to marry you, he bloody well knows it and doesn't need time and space to think about it.

What do you think? I am really confused over what to do when he comes back to me. He might come back and say he realises I am not the one (in which case no brainer) but if he comes back and says he wants to be with me and move forward, how do I react to that?

I feel a bit injured, ego wise and it's not exactly romantic.

OP’s posts: |
Catchingup12 Tue 11-May-21 15:23:54

This is a classic case of commitment phobia. It's really sad. Can you suggest he seeks therapy for it, if he is serious about wanting a future with you?

This is a good book, and suggests therapy for men like this: www.amazon.com/Men-Who-Cant-Love-Commitmentphobic/dp/0871319993?tag=mumsnetforu03-21

Gilda152 Tue 11-May-21 15:34:47

I think he's actually being really very sensible. If he is as you say he is, a massive commitment phobe - then it is only right that he takes a serious amount of time to consider this really life changing decision.

Would you rather he just flippantly said what you wanted to hear only to let you down?

I'm a bit commitment phobe as is my DH. I realise how contradictory that sentence is but it's true. Although we've been married 4 years we do not and have not lived together and I would say at this point that's more me than him not liking change. I'm committed to him, I don't want to be with anyone else, we're married. But living together? I can take it or leave it.

I think a lot of men feel pressured to take the next logical steps when a woman decided they should happen - then it goes wrong. If you're happy and truly love him, give him space to make this decision.

seensome Tue 11-May-21 15:36:34

It's the latter! if he wanted the same as you there would be no need for space and no contact, he's either commitment phobe or just stringing you along as he doesn't see a long term future with you.
I'll expect he'll gets in touch when he needs some affection then be flaky again.
I'd advise you not to waste anymore time on him, as hard as it is. Don't wait around on him.

BramStoker Tue 11-May-21 15:41:57

Well you clearly have a strong belief that relationships need to move forward and eventually lead to co-habitation (or end)

There is nothing wrong with that but you can't force your values on to someone else

If it's a deal breaker for you then probably better to walk away rather than push for a marriage/co-habitation situation against his better judgement

AnastasiaBeverleyHills Tue 11-May-21 15:42:10

I don't think you are being a baby. You are with someone you want to commit to and that excites you. You are ready to make a commitment and genuinely, that's wonderful. He may not be there, even after two years. It doesn't mean he never will be no matter what other people may say. They don't know your BF. Ultimatums though, never usually end well. There can be second guessing, "Did he do it cause I forced him?", "Is this definitely what he wants?" or on his side "Is this definitely what I want?", "Does she take my feelings into account?"

Right now you are talking a lot about what you want and that's good but you also need to seriously consider what he wants and what he's ready for, especially if this is someone you want to spend your life with. There are no time limits on these things. In the future, if there are serious decisions to be made will you issue ultimatums?

Also going "no contact" with a loved one is stone walling unless it's an agreed upon break which also isn't healthy behaviour in a relationship.

litterbird Tue 11-May-21 15:47:44

He is just taking his time. He has been burned by his past and doesn’t want to make the same mistake again. You have cornered him and he’s now got to make a decision based on that. Buying houses and moving in together is not the be all and end all. He is committed to you as a partner. He may not want to live with anyone again and be just as committed. You need something different, you want the other lifestyle choice which is buying houses and living together. Just because he isn’t jumping to your tune does not mean he isnt committed, it just means he is either not ready or not willing to go down that pathway you are demanding. You need to find someone who wants your lifestyle choice.
I will never buy a house or live with any man again but I am totally committed to that relationship. I am not a commitment phobe in any way, shape or form. I am loyal, work hard at the relationship I am in and give a lot of my time to it. Just because I choose to live separately is a lifestyle choice.


stubbedtoe Tue 11-May-21 15:50:40

I want to stress he's not the type to get in touch when he wants attention, and he's not flaky. He just always keeps one foot out the door and is terrified of being fully vulnerable.

It took six months of dating to spend more than one night in a row together, it took a year to go on a mini-break, it took 18 months for him to introduce me to his family. It has been like pulling teeth.

I really liked him and we were in love, and I am a calm and patient person but I also wanted to move ahead with my life goals (getting married and owning a home are important for me).

We've been through a lot over the past six months because I wanted a wholehearted, fearless, loving relationship rather than one where the person was always trying to keep one foot on the exit.

He reluctantly made small steps when pushed. He started counselling around Christmas after I begged him to deal with his past relationship issues and put them to bed so he could move forward. He has been sporadic with it but so far it's only opened a can of worms and he's cried a lot over past losses he said he had locked up, as well as issues with his parents.

He was better with reading, and he read a few books on attachment and identified he has avoidant attachment and he made great strides with that and we climbed quite a few mountains. Emotionally, things got much better after that and we have a really intimate, loving relationship where he doesn't act "avoidant" on a daily basis with me, and he never withdraws anymore .

I do think he is genuinely terrified, but the fact he has hesitated has really hurt me. All this time he kept reassuring me he loved me, I was the love of his life, he just needed to fix himself. Now he turns around and says he wants time and space to be sure?

As we've wrestled through this, there have been a lot of mini-breakups where I have got sick of it and thrown in the towel. Invariably that has lasted 1 - 2 days and then he is back and small changes / improvements followed.

He now says all the mini-breakups re-enforced the idea in his mind that I am psychologically unsafe and I might leave him sad Fair point, but they happened due to absolute frustration.

I am not sure how to handle this at all, it's made me feel really sad. It's the first time he's ever asked for time and space and I am not sure if this is because he's realised he doesn't really love me and want to be with me, or if it's because he's genuinely right now considering biting the bullet.

OP’s posts: |
KaleSlayer Tue 11-May-21 15:51:56

I don’t think 2 years is that long when over half of it has been in lockdown. Presumably you haven’t been able to do lots of normal things since last March. (Assuming you’re in the UK) D sad k it’s harder to get to know each other.

stubbedtoe Tue 11-May-21 15:52:44

Id' like to stress, he never said he didn't want to get married or live together. Actually the opposite, he's always fantasised about our life together and growing old together and he's always sending me links to properties we might like to buy. We even drew up financial plans and so on.

It's just when it comes to DO it, he always has an excuse, and it's very tiring.

OP’s posts: |
KaleSlayer Tue 11-May-21 15:53:41

But equally, this early in the relationship, things should be very good and much easier than this.

stubbedtoe Tue 11-May-21 15:54:31

Also, I told him from our first date what I wanted and he said he wanted the same. I just want to be clear this isn't be enforcing my hopes and dreams on him, it's me trying to get him to stop putting obstacles between us living the life we don't want.

Either that's because he's scared or phobic, or because he doesn't love me enough and at the moment I am worried I am not sure which!

OP’s posts: |
AndeanMountainCat Tue 11-May-21 15:55:31

Ditch him and look for someone else. It sounds painful, and life is too short for this nonsense.

OrchestraOfWankery Tue 11-May-21 15:58:30

He's future faking then bailing when it comes down to progressing things in real life.

Sounds exhausting for you.

ShadierThanaPalmTree Tue 11-May-21 15:59:56

It's only two years it sounds like he has already come in leaps and bounds from where he was, but it seems it isn't enough for you, you are continuously wanting more. I think it is sensible of him to take some time to reflect. You have already pushed him so much, in relationships it is about compromise, but it sounds as though you have just been trying to change him and do what suits yourself rather than meeting him halfway.

In light of that, I think it is absolutely right that he has taken some time to think about his future. Your asking massive things of him, and it's only fair to give him time.

user1469544430 Tue 11-May-21 16:12:35

Don't let him waste your time. 'I don't know' means 'no'.

stubbedtoe Tue 11-May-21 16:12:57

I am just feeling like this is a lose / lose situation.

Either he comes back and says he realises I am not what he wants, in which case he has dicked me about for a long time

Or he comes back and says after careful consideration, I will do. I'm not sure if anyone else sees it that way or if I am being stupid here but I am having a hard time with him hesitating between "all or nothing" with me

OP’s posts: |
litterbird Tue 11-May-21 16:13:31

Poor guy, he’s already messed up with hurt from past relationships and you are having break up after breakup, stonewalling him and going no contact. I think he is being sensible here and re evaluating if you are the person for him right now. Give the poor bloke a chance to heal, it can’t be done on your timeline. It will take years, if ever.

Aquamarine1029 Tue 11-May-21 16:18:02

You two are not compatible. Why are you fighting this simple truth? He will never be the man you want him to be, and just because you love someone doesn't mean you shouldn't leave them. Sometimes it's just not going to work. This is one of those times, so stop wasting yours. Move on and find someone who wants the same things without having to resort to ultimatums, silent treatments and tears.

dodobookends Tue 11-May-21 16:18:42

Perhaps you need to tell him that if he doesn't make his mind up one way or another soon, his continued prevarications might bring about the very thing that he is most afraid of.

ItWasntMyFault Tue 11-May-21 16:24:33

What sort of life stage are you at?

2 years, if you're late 30s and want children could seem a long time, but if you're early 20s or early 50s then not very long, especially over lockdown.

Michaelangelo467 Tue 11-May-21 16:24:56

Are you sure YOU want HIM? I would only be happy with someone who was proud to be with me and eager to share their life with me. I, personally, wouldn’t be happy in a relationship where I didn’t feel wanted.

Have a really hard look at what will make you happy. Can you really be happy together? Is he able to make you feel wanted, cherished, loved? He might be a great guy but is he the right guy for you - it’s not just him deciding now, you need to be sure he is the right person for you.

Annasgirl Tue 11-May-21 16:27:00

HI Op,

Can I just say what life has taught me

1. If a man loves you, he knows and he wants you.
I have had friends stay YEARS with "commitment-phobes" and then the commitment-phobe leaves them to marry someone else instantly.

2. You have a right to have what you want happen in your life.
Please do not end up as one of those women on MN who tell us after 2 DC that they are still waiting for a proposal and a commitment

3. You need to value yourself. You need to set boundaries. If you are afraid to tell a man what you want in life, he is not the right man for you. You should never put your wishes second to his. He has a right to his wishes, but no way should you devote your fertile years to a man who is stalling you.

4. The right man makes relationships easy - this is not easy for you, and you are asking on here because you know it is not right.

Please do not take him back - he hesitated, that is all you need to know.

The right man, who will jump with you, is out there.

stubbedtoe Tue 11-May-21 16:30:47

I know it's very easy to look at a snippet from one question and make a judgement, but it's not a case of some pushy lady forcing some damaged man into things he doesn't want.

I knew six months into the relationship that he had intimacy issues and fear of commitment and I very kindly, gently, went to him and told him I recognised it and had empathy but I was very worried about getting further in the relationship because I had concerns it would be painful for me.

He told me he realised he had issues he needed to fix, but he was in love with me and our relationship was loving and positive in a way he had never experienced before, and if I was game, he wanted to try.

I haven't been sitting there barking out orders, but over two years my life has been hugely affected by this. In practical terms, there are elements of life we all get excited about - going on holiday with a boyfriend, sharing Christmas together, waking up next to him every morning. These are natural parts of falling in love with the right person and enjoying it.

Its been marred all the way through by having to deal with someone who wants those things but simultaneously finds them terrifying.

He's 41 and is finally healing, in therapy, learning about himself and working through his wounds to have a healthy, intimate attachment to me and that took a massive amount of love, sacrifice and patience on my behalf.

I have put so much love into this relationship, so much. I never wanted a fixer-upper, I'm not the rescuing type, but I really properly love him and saw that we would be so happy together (which we are)/

If you read the responses here, some say "walk away, what a waste of life" and others say "be patient, poor guy" and that's a pretty good reflection of how I feel inside because it is honestly so difficult to love someone who is afraid of love.

Yes, I was wrong to breakup with him lots of times but others would argue I was wrong not to break up with him and not turn back. It's very difficult to experience what it feels like for someone to hesitate to fully love you.

It means you miss out on living fully, not just as a couple but individually. There's so much joy in the process of falling in love and starting a life with someone and it's hurtful when they put obstacles between that all the time.

OP’s posts: |
Josesv Tue 11-May-21 16:38:18

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