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How men view commimentment: inside the mind of men

Updated on April 19, 2009

Secrets on how men decide to commit to a relationship

What is commitment?

The dictionary says:

  1. A pledge to do something -- Something pledged, especially an engagement by contract involving financial obligation.
  2. The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of action or to another person or persons: a deep commitment to liberal policies; a profound commitment to the family.

Before we go on let’s be clear about several things.

Commitment is not a once and for all state. Commitment comes and goes in degrees and stages. Even when a person is fully committed to something, his or her level of commitment goes up or down depending on a lot of factors.

Although we use the general term commitment to mean marriage of permanent relationship, there are various levels of commitment in a relationship. For example in the beginning of a budding relationship you may be committed to cook an occasional meal to woo a prospective partner, but balk at the prospect of cooking his dinner every day. However if things progresses as nicely as you prefer you may volunteer to provide afternoon meals when he finishes work. Similarly a man may be happy to pay for an occasional shopping spree but not be keen at an early stage to foot your shopping bill every month.

Let look at how relationships generally develops

  • Man sees woman or vice versa – attraction is kindled
  • Flirting takes place and chemistry heats up
  • Conversation strikes up and further interest develops
  • Both begin to talk and see each other more often
  • Bonding/attachment takes place
  • One or both party wants to secure the relationship
  • Commitment takes place

This is a simplistic version of relationship development is necessary to show how men differ from women when it comes to commitment.

Usually both party’s interest is kindled in the early stages they progress smoothly to the bonding and attachment stage. Here is where the trouble begins.

As a woman bonds her nurturing instincts kicks in. She begins to care and invests deeply into the relationship. She gives her all. Subconsciously she feels that the more attachment and bonding takes place the more committed they are to each other. In other words bonding equals commitment to a woman. This is not necessarily so with men. He may feel very attached to a woman but this does not always equate with his level of commitment.

Scott M. Stanley, PhD of the University of Denver explains this eloquently. He says,

“Attachment triggers committed and sacrificial behaviour in women whereas a decision to be committed triggers commitment and sacrificial behaviour in men. In other words, women begin to give their best to men when they are strongly attached. However, men may be less inclined to give fully of themselves to women unless they have decided that a particular woman is their future.”

What is the implication of all this?


You may have heard – or even experience yourself – women who complain that they feel they are doing everything in the relationship. They feel that they are carrying the relationship. It drains them and gives them what I call romantic fatigue.

I know of one lady who was so committed to her partner that she worked and put him through law school. After graduating and setting up a successful practice he married another woman. He said he never told her he would marry her. She felt betrayed.

As unfair as this may sound, it highlights the stark difference between how a men and women view commitment. Women assume commitment and devotion based on her level of attachment: a man must consciously decide and in many instances verbally commit. The ultimate commitment is marriage where he commits verbally in the presence of witnesses and signs on the dotted line.

Because a woman cares and commits deeply to someone she bonds with, marrying this persons does not significantly change her devotion. It is simply the icing on the cake. Full commitment – eg marriage – is to a man what becoming bacon is to a pig. He undergoes radical and irreversible changes.

Stanley says

“Commitment in marriage changes…how [men] see themselves and how they behave. It changes how they view a relationship with a woman and how they are to act in relation to a woman… On average, marriage changes the average man in the direction of greater responsibility and sacrifice to a female partner…This is partly why men resist marriage. They associate marriage with the expectancy of having to [fully] grow up. That step across the line will have a powerful impact on their lives. If they can, many men will resist this until quite late into their 20s”

Interestingly recent research have shown that some men living with their partners are still hoping to meet their soul mates.

It may be easier to exp. good time with someone but you are not committed to the point of paying her mortgage or cooking and cleaning for himfuture you must understand that all of us carry around in our minds notions of what commitment means. Commitment also tends to develop in stages. There are different levels of commitment.

Secondly we tend to assume that everyone has the same basic understanding. This is far from true, especially when it relates to men and relationships

We have found that when a woman loves a man, she becomes very devoted to him and his welfare. There is very little she won’t do for him. She nurtures him. She wants the best for him

  • Financially
  • Emotionally
  • Physically
  • Socially
  • Psychologically

And she consciously or unconsciously literally commits to this. She throws all of her emotions, energies and most of her time to achieving this. This also arouse a great fear in women. Abandonment. She dreads that after invest all of this she may be abandoned. Hence most women look for some sort of certainty – or commitment. Interestingly this level of commitment comes way before she marries. Marriage tend to seal this commitment more, and increase it a little.

Men on the other hand are far more cautious about emotional commitment. Commitment to a man spells RESPONSIBILITY and loss of FREEDOM!

Now before you go into rebuttal overdrive, let me just say this has nothing to do with whether or not it is true or real. It has everything to do with how he perceives it and how it makes him feel.

Remember a man’s perception is his reality and his feelings are his facts.

Telling a child who is afraid of the dark, “baby there is nothing to be afraid of,” won’t magically make the fear go away. This type of fear, although illogical could be deep and very real to that child. Explanation, name calling, ridiculing won’t help. In fact this can even compound the problem.

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