Today’s article is in response to a question from a reader (via Ask Melissa!) about how to know if your significant other will ever want to commit, especially if he said he isn’t ready for commitment. In my response, I offer perspective on what commitment really is, why he pulled away after having entered a relationship, and what you should focus on now when you’re healing a broken heart:
I just recently broke up with a guy. I’m was dating an amazing man, he’s not yet divorced, separated nearly a year and a half, with two kids. I’m divorced a year and separated years.
I have been seeing him for ten great weeks, he has become distant and has said he not ready for a commitment. I’ve totally fallen in love with him and am devastated.
Will he change his mind? I don’t think he will as he said he wanted to remain my friend. I’m also thinking that it’s me he doesn’t really want to be with.
Thanks for reaching out. I really feel you. It’s hard when you’re in love with someone and they don’t feel the same way back.
What Is Commitment in Dating and Relationships?
I know it’s really difficult when, after two-and-half-months of being in a relationship, he pulls away.
Sometimes it starts as a whirlwind romance, a connection unlike you or he has ever experienced before.
But then he “gets distant.”
Maybe he stops being responsive to texts and phone calls.
Maybe he starts flaking out on date nights at the last minute.
Or maybe his mood changes and he’s just not the same person he was.
However it plays out in your relationship, it’s an unfortunate sign that he got involved with you before he really figured out what he wants.
Or maybe he does know what he wants but he didn’t know how (or was scared) to communicate it in a way that is really honest and forthcoming about what his intentions were.
The bottom line is he got involved when he wasn’t ready for a new relationship; he wasn’t clear with himself and with you about what he really wanted.
He eventually decided that he doesn’t want to be in committed relationship at this time.
At the end of the day, commitment is a choice.
And it comes with a very clear attitude and actions, as I describe in my article What is Commitment in Dating and Relationships?
It’s the decision to be “all in.”
And it’s a decision that arrives only when there’s been a lot of conscious forethought.
We don’t typically decide to commit to someone without really thinking it through and getting really clear that it’s the right path for us.
And yes, we have to date and get to know someone for a while before we decide to make a commitment.
But in the ideal scenario, his decision and realization that he “wasn’t ready” would have come much earlier and he would have been forthcoming with his uncertainty about commitment much earlier, instead of breaking it to you after you’ve already become deeply emotionally bonded and in love.
I teach people in my program how be highly conscious in their relationships (ideally before they get into relationships) so that they can really set themselves up for relationship success and protect themselves from being devastated, while still dating and getting to know someone.
The important thing is to figure out what do you need and require in order to have a fulfilling relationship?
And then when you’re dating, really see if he aligns with and can support your needs and relationship requirements.
Will He Change His Mind?
There’s no real way to accurately predict this.
The truth is: He might change his mind–if he chooses to.
As you mentioned, he said he’d like to “remain friends” with you, which might be his way of saying that he doesn’t want a romantic relationship with you, he just wants a friendship.
And if he’s not making strides toward deepening your relationship or doing the work necessary so that he can become emotionally available to deepen his relationship with you, it doesn’t sound likely that he will change his mind any time soon.
But his relationship readiness and desire for a commitment are not within your control.
So you can’t predict with certainty when or if he’ll want to be in a relationship with you.
The only person you have control over is yourself.
But wondering and hoping he’ll change his mind can really do a number on your self-esteem and spirit because you can’t control the outcome, and it can lead to feeling hopeless and disempowered.
Whenever we base our success on something outside of our own inner resources, on something that we cannot control, we set ourselves up for failure.
So I would encourage you, during this time of feeling heartbroken, to turn inward and focus on YOU.
And tune in to what love and nourishment you can give to yourself.
It’s ok to feel sad.
It’s ok to feel loss.
These are all normal feelings when we’re heartbroken.
But don’t blame yourself in the least for the choices that he made.
If he is choosing not be in a romantic relationship with you, it can be really easy to blame yourself for “not doing” or “not being” something that might have gotten him to stay.
And then sometimes, if you let it, your mind can mistakenly interpret his choice to mean something about who you are as a person or your worthiness to be loved.
It’s a huge trap because, just like when we’re waiting for someone to change, when we start to blame ourselves for the behavior and choices of other people, we erode our sense of self and our sense of power—we end up letting other people determine our worthiness for love.
Why This Breakup Feels so Devastating and What to Do Now
I notice you use some really strong words: “totally in love,” “devastated,” “heartbroken…”
I’ve been there: loving someone so much that when they didn’t love me back, I felt absolutely crushed. And it made me crazy for a while. It was hard to crawl out of.
I’ve wondered why some people bounce back from breakups while others really struggle with the pain.
Often, it’s the difference between love and the attachment.
A breakup can feel particularly devastating for some people because they not only feel like they’re losing a boyfriend, but they also feel like they’re losing part of their self.
It wasn’t until I really started working on myself and studying relationships that I realized, in retrospect, that my pain and my struggle with getting over him was in a large part due to an unhealthy attachment to the relationship.
So, in addition to taking a look at the articles linked in this post, I would encourage you to ask yourself:
What about this breakup is particularly painful and devastating?
What thoughts are coming up? (Journaling is great for this kind of self-reflection)
And also ask yourself, what do you need in order to heal?
What do you need in order to feel nurtured and empowered?
I know these things take a lot of time and thought to consider, but I hope this helps provide some guidance!
Please feel free to reach out if you need any other support.
All the best,
Have a burning relationship question? Send me your question here.