Does he have commitment issues?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: My 31 yr. old, educated niece has been dating a 36 yr. old professional man for 1 1/2 yrs (income/money is not an issue). At the beginning of the relationship they both admitted that they would eventually like to be married and have children (in general).I have been around this couple a lot, and they are very loving, helpful, and caring to each other. And I know for a fact that they do love each other.The Problem: my niece would like a marriage commitment from this relationship. She is 31 yrs. old and would like to start a family in the next few years with her man, but he never talks about getting married to her. He does not particularly want to discuss past relationships, however, he did reveal to her that in his last relationship, after dating the girl for 1 yr., he was going to propose to her (she was pressing him to get married). He has admitted that his relationship with my niece is the best thing that has ever happened to him. He has also said that women tend to worry too much about getting married instead of just enjoying the relationship.She is concerned about voicing her needs/wants (marriage)for fear that he might tell her that he is not ready for marriage, tell her what she wants to hear just to keep the status quo, or maybe he would be ok with marriage.He wants her to move into his house with him next month. She already spends the majority of her time there, but maintains her own place. I have suggested drawing the line in the sand before moving into his house (not an ultimatum), but she is thinking of waiting until after the holidays or valentines day to see if he proposes on his own. Does it sound like he may have commitment issues (at age 36)? Should she talk to him about his past relationships even though he may not particularly want to? Should she move in with him completely or not stay at his house? Thanks for your help in advance.

A: I don’t know if he has commitment issues. I do think that the relationship is off balance. He is setting the terms of the relationship on his own. How they are going to live their lives needs to be a mutual decision if the relationship is to last or to last happily.

I think your niece has her own sense of timing about this. She is essentially giving it 6 more months to see what her boyfriend will do on his own. If he doesn’t make a commitment to her in that time, it sounds like she has already figured out that he probably isn’t going to. The conservative thing to do, of course, would be for her to hold onto her own place, even if she moves in with him for now. But my guess is that she knows that. I’m sure she appreciates your concern but, having said your piece, it’s now time to pull back. She’s 31. All you can do now is love her and be there for her, whatever happens next.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Sep 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Does he have commitment issues?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/09/05/1663/