What are men afraid of?
Bears? Yeah, maybe.
Intimacy and commitment? Oh yeah, those are the big ones.
This fear of intimacy and commitment is summed up perfectly in these Blink 182 lyrics from their old song, Cacophony.
While the boys from this pop-punk band are better known for being ridiculous, these words really hit home:
“When you talk about forever
I’m not sure about today.
When you tell me that you love me
What am I supposed to say?”
I know exactly what that’s like because this is also how I used to feel in the past. There was something so intimidating about relationships for me.
And it’s pretty universal.
Men who avoid intimacy and commitment usually have these eight underlying fears.
Wait, am I saying that big, strong, burly men are afraid of a little rejection?
Despite rough and rugged exteriors and macho, unemotional facades, men, like all people, are social animals. They thrive when they’re accepted and suffer when they’re not.
So yes, men are very often afraid of rejection, and this is why they might avoid intimacy and commitment.
Think about it.
If they open themselves up and let you take a real good, hard look inside, isn’t there a chance you might not like what you see?
Isn’t it possible that you’ll be turned off and decide you don’t want a relationship with them?
Of course. And I know you recognize this feeling because it’s something we all share.
So, for many men, keeping up appearances and keeping emotionally aloof is a way to protect themselves from this risky business.
2) Giving up their freedom
Men being afraid of giving up their freedom is a real trope, but only because it’s true.
Combined with mid-life crisis attempts to gain some of it back, this is one of the major reasons guys are afraid of committing to relationships.
After all, it’s fun to be young and single. It’s great to just do whatever you want whenever you want.
Who can argue with that?
The real issue is why men feel that being intimate and committed in a relationship has to mean they lose some freedom. Does it have to be this way?
If you want to be in a committed relationship with a man who seems afraid to move things to the next level, it’s worth doing two things.
First, ask yourself if what you’re looking for is going to threaten his freedom. And second, ask him if this is something that’s on his mind.
You might just find some pretty compelling answers!
3) Losing autonomy
Autonomy is slightly different from freedom, though it’s still related.
The illustrious Cambridge Dictionary defines autonomy as “the ability to make your own decisions without being controlled by anyone else,” which I think really hits the nail on the head.
Men who are uneasy about making commitments are often worried that this will translate into having to do what you say all the time. And look – you and I know this isn’t what you’re after (I hope!), but it’s still one of their underlying fears.
Relationships do, however, require a degree of compromise that might worry the average fellow who’s been making his own way for a long time now.
He could very well be worried that you’ll tell him what to wear, how to act, what to think, and to put your interests first.
If this sounds wonderful to you, that’s probably why he’s worried!
We all wear old wounds like scars on our hearts.
Some of them heal almost imperceptibly, but others are big and bold and, dare I say it, frightening.
They represent the trauma of past pain and heartbreak and can also really stand in the way of that person embracing intimacy in the future.
So what can you do with a partner who’s afraid to make more of a commitment because he’s had his heart broken before?
Talk about it.
Show him you’re not the same as the person who hurt him.
And let him know just how great things could be if he could see past these old heartbreaks and really let you in.
Above all, be gentle.
Even big ol’ man hearts need to be handled with care.
5) Being discovered as imposters
Imposter syndrome isn’t just something that affects people in their professional lives.
It can be an underlying fear in a relationship as well.
What is it?
This is the unfounded feeling that you don’t deserve to be where you are or have what you have.
It’s confounded by anxiety – there’s a fear that you’ll be found out at any moment.
I have to admit that I felt this when I first got together with my wife. I was coming out of a pretty bad breakup, and she was a revelation, too good to be true!
I was amazed by everything about her, not least the fact that I’d somehow caught her eye. Me? I didn’t deserve her. I was way out of my league!
I think she eventually realized that I felt this way and started to work on convincing me I was wrong.
She would tell me again and again how much she valued me and how happy she was that we’d connected.
Eventually, I started to believe her, and this fear of being caught as a fake faded away. Mostly.
I still find it hard to believe sometimes.
6) Making the wrong choice
FOMO is the fear of missing out.
And this is one of the biggest underlying fears men have in relationships.
They’re afraid of getting close and making a commitment because they might miss out on something or someone else.
I’m talking about two different things here.
One is missing out on being single. Yes, dating and having sex with other people. Some men aren’t at all sure that they’re the settling down or monogamous type.
The other thing they might be afraid of is that they’re settling and, therefore, missing out on a relationship with someone else.
If you sense this is the issue with your man, it can be a serious issue because what this is telling you is that he thinks you’re not enough for him.
In this case, I guess you can either show him he’s wrong or show him the door.
7) Losing their friends
While you might try to deny it, this is a fear that’s solidly based in reality.
It just might not be for the reasons that he thinks.
Here’s what he’s afraid of.
He has buddies that get into serious relationships and suddenly disappear from his life. They change their priorities, and spending time with their old friends drops way down the list.
He’s afraid that if he gets into a serious commitment with you, the same thing will happen to him.
What he doesn’t realize is the reasons why this happens.
First and foremost, all his friends made choices. They weren’t forced into this behavior.
Maybe, and this might sound crazy, they actually like spending time with their partners!?
There’s also an understanding of what a commitment is.
Making a commitment requires time and effort, not just words. Whether this means a romantic and financial partnership, kids, or whatever, you have to make choices, and how you spend your time is necessarily one of them.
He has to learn that losing friends isn’t automatic – it’s a choice and also an issue of time management.
8) Getting distracted
Men who avoid intimacy and commitment can have another underlying fear that you may not have considered.
A lot of people are driven by life goals and working towards achievements they’ve set for themselves.
While for many men, these include relationships and families, this isn’t everyone’s priority.
So if a man has some serious career goals or is set on being the first person in the world to circumnavigate the world by swimming, he may worry that a romantic commitment means taking his eyes off the prize.
He might be afraid that he only has so much to give and he has to choose between his goals and you.
While this can be a heartbreaking realization, it’s better to find out if this is the case before you, too, get too emotionally invested. Otherwise, you might spend years feeling like an underappreciated third wheel.
Men’s fear of intimacy and commitment
Most men aren’t truly worried about looking like a wussy if they open up to their romantic partner.
What they’re afraid of goes a lot deeper.
Men who avoid intimacy and commitment usually have many of these eight fears, not just one of them.
That can make it hard to navigate a solution and make a relationship work.
But at least it’s a start.
Communication and a healthy respect for his feelings are the best tools to help him get over these fears and build a successful relationship together.