It’s getting serious.

Weeks have passed, months even, and things are happening. You’ve sung their praises to your family, your friends, your coworkers. They’re your first waking thought and your last dream at night. They’re exciting, they’re hot and they’re fun, but you know what else? They seem stable. They come across as secure. They’re going nowhere.

And then it’s over.

As explosively as the courtship burst into life, it implodes in on itself with a poof, a sputter and a whimper.

Falling for a commitment-phobe is a cruel — if not formative — experience that most of us have suffered at one time or another. The commitment-phobe is one of the lesser-spotted charlatans of love, precisely because they hide in plain sight. They say the right things; they do the right things. They make you feel right. And then they vanish in a puff of rose-scented smoke, leaving you to scrabble around for the fragments of your heart strewn carelessly across your bedroom carpet.

Where do these commitment-phobe creatures come from? Who are they, and how can you avoid the heartache that invariably comes with falling for one?

What does a commitment-phobe look like?

The commitment-phobe is amorphous, a shape-shifter. You never know one’s true identity until it’s too late. That’s what makes them so deadly.

Firstly, have you begun to get the impression that, for your partner, it’s all — or at least mostly — about the sex? Passion and intimacy are highly important, but if sex is the be-all and end-all of your relationship despite you wishing it to progress, your partner may have only one thing on their mind. Whether they’ve really realized that themselves is another matter entirely but, either way, you’re going to end up hurt. By Peter Pan.

Peter pan syndrome

Peter Pan syndrome generally refers to the phenomenon of grown men avoiding the professional and personal responsibilities of life, adulthood and relationships. (And yes, there are no doubt Petra Pans out there too!) Whether they’re narcissistic, egotistical or just plain ignorant, their childlike sense of fun and carefree hedonism can initially be charming — which is exactly what makes the Peter Pan type so devilish.

The advent of online dating has led to a preponderance of Peter Pans and commitment-phobes. Dating apps and introduction websites are great for making romance more convenient and accessible, but the unprecedented numbers of potential partners whom users are presented with ironically makes it harder to identify and settle on The One — so the commitment-phobe keeps on swiping, keeps on dating, breaking heart after heart along the way. Philosophers as far back as the 17th century have described this logical conundrum as the tyranny of choice. (Granted, they probably weren’t referring to Tinder back in the 1680s.)

The commitment-phobe will present as suspiciously averse to acquainting themselves with your nearest and dearest. Invite them to your family’s low-key Sunday barbecue and observe them flee faster than a vampire served aioli-drizzled mushrooms. The bottom line: they don’t want to get to know your family and friends, because doing so would be a surefire signal that this relationship is something they don’t want it to be.

Even being seen with you in public or engaging in any activity that doesn’t directly entail staying in and/or having sex could rile the commitment-phobe and send them scarpering.

The question is, how can you avoid ending up in this situation in the first place?

What can you do?

There’s nothing wrong whatsoever with keeping the relationship lighthearted and fun, especially in the nascent days of getting to know one another. However, you simply cannot cultivate a healthy, committed relationship with the potential to become something long-term if surefire signs of commitment seem perennially unforthcoming.

Does the conversation always remain surface-level? Do they not share personal information or divulge aspects of their life and personality that would really allow you to get to know them? Do they steer clear of emotions like the plague?

If you’ve fallen for a commitment-phobe, your options are basically threefold:

  • Stay put. Get heart broken. Rinse and repeat.
  • Reevaluate your priorities. If all you want right now is a casual fling and no-one’s getting hurt, perhaps there’s no problem. Carry on and have fun!
  • Call time on the whole thing. You’ve got too much self-respect and your time is too precious for this slacker.

At the end of the day, how you deal with your own personal commitment-phobe boils down to what you want out of a relationship. If you’re perfectly happy having a little fun but then kicking them out at 3am with no hard feelings on either side, there’s probably no harm, and good luck to ya!

However, if you find yourself longing for them to whisper sweet postcoital nothings to you rather than immediately roll over and emit sporadic, resonant snores, this whole ‘thing’ might not be quite what you need in your life. Reevaluate your values and ask yourself: can I honestly envisage myself with this person till death do us part? If you can’t, we can help.

Maclynn International are an elite global dating consultancy based in New York. Our network of exceptional singletons are ready to settle down with someone special. If you’re done with idle city-goers and hotties who promise one thing but do another, get in touch today and let us do away with your commitment-phobe-phobia for good.