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5 Signs They Won't Commit

Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistSeptember 25, 2019

There comes a point in your relationship when you want a commitment. Hopefully, you and your partner reach that point at the same time. But if you get there first, how can you know whether your partner simply needs more time or whether they'll never commit?

You can start with an honest conversation about your feelings and desires for the relationship. This is, of course, best approached as a discussion rather than an ultimatum. Pay attention to your partner’s verbal and nonverbal response.  If they quickly change the subject or seem to be backing out of the room as you talk, consider the message they are giving. Also, if they don’t spontaneously offer their thoughts and feelings, be sure to ask… but then again, that might also be a sign. Still, use what you know about the person to understand their responses. What is silent rejection from one person might be shyness or discomfort with verbalizing feelings from someone else.

When your partner seems less than direct, or you are not sure that they are being truthful about their desire for a committed relationship, you may find the answer in their priorities.

People are less likely to commit when they prioritize:

Other interests over you: After the initial excitement of a new relationship fades, the intensity typically also lessens. However, if your partner stops following through on promises to call, get together, or do particular things together, this might be a sign of what your ongoing relationship will be like. Even if they agree to be monogamous, they may not be making a commitment to put you first.

Having a single lifestyle: If you get the message that they are happy being single, take it seriously. Listen for whether they have had any significant relationships, and whether they seemed to enjoy emotional intimacy in those relationships. If not, it may be time to move on.

Societal admiration and material wealth: If your partner makes choices that show they value earning money and prestige more than relationships, think twice about asking for a commitment. When put to the test, they are likely to choose material riches over your happiness. 

Fun: Of course you want to enjoy time together. But if your partner always wants to “keep things light”, then you are not likely to get the emotional closeness that you want from a long-term relationship.

Sex: If sexual intimacy clearly remains more important than emotional intimacy, your relationship might be passionate, but you will likely also end up feeling emotionally alone.

While you would definitely benefit from paying attention to these signs while dating, you don’t need to be deep into a relationship to notice them. Also, if you see any of them, don’t just assume that the relationship can’t work out. There could be reasons for any particular sign, or the person might be open to change. However, don’t ignore them either. If you are serious about wanting a committed relationship, you will be happiest if you choose a partner who will truly make you their number one priority.

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About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

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