Dear Barb—The Next Level

Dear Barb:

I am a guy in my thirties and I can’t seem to maintain a relationship with a woman.  On an intellectual level I do want to get married and have a family, but I can’t seem to commit.  Most of my relationships last about six months, and then I start to pull away.  I am not able to take the relationship to the next level.  I try to find something wrong with the girl to justify ending the relationship.  To be honest most of the time there isn’t anything wrong with the girl, I just get scared and feel I will never live up to their expectations.  I envy my friends who are able to move forward.  I have been a best man four times, but never the groom.  Most of my guy friends change so much once they are married.  They don’t want to hang out, or do a lot of guy things.  I don’t want to be controlled like that; I want to be able to continue to do the things I like.  I don’t know if my childhood has something to do with by inability to commit.  My mom and dad fought a lot because Dad was always going out with the guys.  It got so bad that my mom actually moved out and left me with my dad and took my younger sister with her.  I don’t like to think that is the reason why I’m like this.  I’m just so stuck in this place and I don’t know how to move on.  Do you have suggestions? Thanks, Don.

Hi Don:

Thanks for your letter.  Since you took the time to write you may be ready to confront the issues that are causing you to shy away from commitment.  Your childhood may have a lot to do with your reluctance to enter into a long-term relationship.  You obviously have a fear that you may end up in a marriage like your parents.  However, it doesn’t sound like your parents addressed their issues, instead your mother chose the escape route, which seems to be what you are doing in your relationships.  There are many reasons why men have commitment issues, including as you mentioned a fear of failure.  Other reasons include a fear of change; some men fear if they change their lifestyles, they will lose their identity.  Also, some men get stuck in a certain lifestyle and they fear the loss of that lifestyle, when in reality a new lifestyle may produce a happier life.  As you can see there may be many reasons why you cannot maintain a long-term relationship and I think you need some help figuring this out.  My suggestion would be to make an appointment with a therapist and begin working through these issues to find the root cause.  You may be surprised how quickly you can resolve this and begin having healthier relationships.  Best of luck Don.