6 subtle signs a man will never settle down and commit, according to psychology

If you are, like me, a huge fan of Sex and the City, you’ll be well aware of the character Big.

Now, there’s a good chance you might be more Team Aiden, but there’s no denying we had a whole lot to learn from the spectacle that is Carrie and Big’s tumultuous road to love.

He was the guy who seemed to have it all together on the surface, but underneath it all, he was wrestling with some seriously deep commitment issues.

From the get-go, it was ultra clear that Big prized his freedom above all else. 

His top finance job, his lavish lifestyle, and his knack for keeping people at arm’s length were all symptoms of this deep-rooted fear of getting too bogged down.

Carrie was always trying to dig deeper into their relationship, but Mr. Big was like a pro at dodging those deeper chats.

He kept his distance, not because he didn’t care about her, but because he was terrified of losing control over his life.

As you can imagine, their relationship became a wild ride, full of false starts and missed chances. 

Just when Carrie thought they were finally on the same page, Big would hit the brakes and leave her hanging—and if you’ve seen the Sex and the City movie, you know this amps up a notch!

Now, don’t get me wrong, Big’s commitment issues didn’t magically disappear overnight. But what did change? His attitude towards them.

If you’re with a man like Big, and you’re looking for some signs he might never settle down and commit, I’ve got the psychology-backed lowdown for you.

1) He’s living in a place with plenty of options—and he certainly knows it

Ever known someone who can’t seem to settle down, always keeping their options open? 

Not to objectify potential partners but the mindset is kind of like being at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

This is a classic sign of someone with commitment issues. Endless options can be thrilling but somewhat paralyzing when it comes down to committing. 

With so many possibilities, choosing one often feels like missing out on the rest. It’s FOMO in the flesh.

A 2015 study by the University of Utah on men’s commitment in heterosexual relationships explored this phenomenon.

Researchers investigated how in urban environments, where more partners are naturally present, “men are surrounded by many potential partners and in this way can pursue multiple short-term, uncommitted relationships.”

This abundance of options creates a safety net, a way out if things get serious. It’s like having an escape hatch in each and every relationship.

This guy will start dating, and when things get serious, suddenly he’s thinking about all the other people he hasn’t met.

What if there’s someone better out there? What if he’s making a huge mistake?

This mindset spills into other parts of his life, too—work, friendships, passions. He never fully invests because he’s always thinking about whether the grass is greener elsewhere.

Researchers also took a look at men in more remote or less populated locations, as a contrast.

“But if they’re in boonies, men may be more likely to settle down. When women are hard to find, the best strategy is to find one and stick with her,” researchers said.

So, living in a place with plenty of options is both a blessing and a curse. It offers freedom, variety, and excitement, but also has the power to be a breeding ground for the non-committers.

2) He views potential partners as “easy” to lock down

Some guys think they can get any one they want, even to the point where they act like getting into a relationship is as easy as picking out a new tie. 

But this mindset is often linked to something that goes deeper than unbridled confidence—fear of commitment.

The previous study looked into men viewing potential partners as being “easy” to pin down, making it more likely for them to engage in flings.

It’s almost as if the guy is playing a game, moving to the next level without really sinking his teeth in. 

Why does he do this? Because investment equals risk, vulnerability, and the possibility of heartbreak—which let’s face it, is no small thing.

This approach might seem confident, on the surface. By seeing potential matches as “easy,” the guy keeps control over his feelings and the situation.

He never risks losing something he truly cares about because he never lets himself truly care. It’s a tell-tale shield of self-defense.

3) He’s anxious about what’s expected of him within the relationship

One big reason a lot of men fail to commit is not because they’re purposely scheming to do so.

Sometimes, it comes down to a deep-rooted anxiety and fear.

This can be anxiety about expectations, because let’s get real here, in a committed relationship, there’s pressure to be an excellent partner, and maybe even a future husband or father. 

That’s a pretty significant thing to handle—and experts agree.

A 2023 study on men’s fear of commitment in the Journal of Scientific Exploration found that men were stressed over the perception that they were required to be the “dominant partner”.

But what does this mean? Essentially, that they were meant to be the one who was “control of and responsible for making decisions” within the relationship.

This isn’t about controlling everything but taking the lead, making decisions, planning the future. For some guys, this feels like a heavy weight.

Understanding this can change everything. It doesn’t excuse his behavior, but it sure does explain some of it.

It goes to show that mens’ commitment-phobia isn’t always about a lack of feelings or heartlessness, it’s about fear—of expectations, failure, and simply not measuring up.

4) He has an avoidant attachment style

Now, I don’t think we can chat about a lack of commitment without discussing avoidant attachment.

This is a pattern where some folks naturally pull away in relationships… it’s just their thing.

Again, it’s not because they don’t care, it’s that getting too close can feel psychologically overwhelming.

A theoretical paper in the Journal of Family Theory and Review found that “those who have avoidant attachment styles will resist increasing the level of commitment.”

This guy might have grown up being told to man up (toxic) and not reveal too many of his emotions. 

As such, he learns to build walls to feel safe and in control. These walls work to keep people out.

Then, in a new relationship, things start great—sexy and fun dates, wonderfully deep conversations—but then things get serious. Really serious.

And as you might expect… all those old habits kick in.

Researchers said that this pattern or attachment style stems from “their desire to limit closeness and obligation” and their “individual needs for avoidance” will inhibit connections.

He feels vulnerable and scared. His brain tells him to pull away, to avoid getting too close.

It’s not that he doesn’t entirely want a relationship—he might—but sometimes, the fear is too strong to ignore.

5) He resists having a shared couple identity

Ever been with a dude who seemed allergic to the idea of being a couple? 

You know, the type who freaks out when it’s time to actually outline your relationship status?

The previous study found that many men who were afraid of commitment were in this position because they rejected “an identity as a couple”, or in other words, “a sense of us with a future.”

It sucks, sure, but for many guys, committing feels like surrendering a semblance of control or freedom.

They worry about the “what ifs” of the matter. What if it doesn’t work out, what if they’re not good enough, what if they lose themselves?

Take planning a future trip away together. There you are, excitedly discussing destinations, but he never fully gives his dates of availability or books those tickets.

Here’s a wee little hint. It’s not just about the trip. Nope.

It’s about the idea of a shared future together that’s freaking him out.

And now that we’ve had a hint, here’s a little secret.

The very best thing you can do here is remind him that commitment isn’t about losing freedom, moreover, it’s about gaining a loyal teammate.

6) He pulls back when it comes to depending on you

There’s always the one fella who’s always dancing around commitment like it’s hot coals, because deep down, they’re freaking out.

It’s not that they don’t care about their partner or potential partner—it’s that they’re afraid of losing themselves in the process. 

The aforementioned study in the Journal of Family Theory and Review found that a lot of mens’ lack of commitment came from “resisting intimacy and dependence.”

In other words, they don’t want to be dependent on an SO, or anyone else for that matter.

But here’s the kicker: while independence might seem fun at first, it’s a lonely thing in the long run.

Relationships require a leap of faith. They demand trust, vulnerability, and of course, a bit of healthy dependency.

Final words

In wrapping things up, psychology offers some fairly intriguing insights into the many behaviors that hint a man might not be quite ready to commit now—or ever.

For starters, living it up in a bustling city full, like New York City or London, of potential matches might make settling down seem far less appealing.

Then there’s the dude with the avoidant attachment style, where getting too close feels like a threat to his mental health.

Sprinkle in a fear of co-dependence—losing that sense of independence as an individual—and commitment becomes an even more daunting prospect, regardless of how happy and healthy the relationship is.

Finally, there’s the reluctance to share an identity as a couple, highlighting a super strong preference for flying solo.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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