I've read a thousand articles in women's magazines, read many dating guides and forget the many, many hours I have spent with my friends poring over our relationships, and yet I seem to be the only one with the real answer as to why women are drawn to commitment-phobic guys. (Or even why some guys are drawn to commitment-phobic women.)
It struck me as I was sitting on a bench with a friend, debating our remarkably similar relationship stories and the boys we were chasing who just could not, would not commit. And then we looked at the alternative, or rather the extreme alternative, the too willing to commit guy, the often needy and insecure person who chases us a little too hard, in short, the stalker type. Is it any wonder, that in the attempt to date and not end up being stalked we err on the side of the more distant, less intense commitment-phobic guy?
It may seem obvious, but when you start dating someone you often give them unparalleled access to your life; letting them into your home, know where you work, meet your family, your friends and even the most intimate of all, use your computer. That's a lot of trust. So is it any wonder that it's a lot easier when the person you're dating hesitates a little about getting too involved – giving you time to get used to the idea, to even have to persuade them to meet your friends?
Statistically women are more likely to be harmed by a partner or former partner than by a stranger. They know where you keep the spare key, what time you get home, what train you take and maybe even what your passwords are. And that's before you even get paranoid.
I'm not excusing my own commitment-phobic behaviour, because yes, even when I am dating a card-carrying commitment-phobic (the kind of guy who says "I'm not looking for a girlfriend") I can sometimes be the standoffish one. But I do think we should cut ourselves some slack for sometimes preferring commitment-phobic behaviour to the over eager dating manners of some perfectly nice guys.
If you've ever found yourself at the end of a bad date, after explaining that you didn't really click, dodging the calls of the chap in question, is it any wonder that you're more inclined to go for a guy that takes three days to call you back? Yes it's the kind of behaviour that will drive you crazy when you've been going out six months and are trying to make plans for the weekend, but it's probably the kind of behaviour that's going to make you feel relaxed enough to chat, flirt and kiss the guy without worrying that you're going to have to take out a restraining order (and I really wish I was joking).
When the guy you met on the way home and who you gave your number to "because you never know", texts you on your way to work the next day to say how happy he is to have met you, it's adorable. When a couple of days later he's texting you five times a day and wants to know if something is wrong with the relationship (and you haven't yet been on the first date) it's scarier – especially if you shared a cab and he knows where you live. Then it's all less Jennifer Aniston date movie and more late night slasher movie.
But give the slightly needy and clingy date a break, we all have our moments of wanting to be in the perfect relationship right now. Maybe a gentle hint that things are going too fast will suffice, maybe you might need to be more direct, and maybe you might need to block their calls, at which point (if you're lucky) you can breathe a sigh of relief that they don't have your home address.
So, if you're getting out there and dating now, take a deep breath and be brave, whether it's saying yes to that friend of a friend, or joining an online service, but… be safe. Listen to your gut, meet in public places and be careful about how much personal information you give out. And if you do find yourself dating another guy who takes three days to call or doesn't like to make plans too far in advance, don't beat yourself up. So you picked someone who's a little bit commitment-phobic, it's okay, at least you didn't pick a stalker. Relax and enjoy the journey, because before you know it that commitment-phobic guy may well have practically moved in with you, and you might be wondering how you can gently tell him you need a night to yourself!
Read about my novel Love And The Perfect Wave
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(c) Pearl Howie 2015. All rights reserved.