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What Is He Afraid Of?

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The man I’ve been on and off with for almost 6 years has finally admitted to me that “everything is there” in me, but he cannot see a future. He is an honest, good man who has deep fears and avoids intimacy. He doesn’t know what to do when I cry and never talks about his feelings. Our “relationship” has been quite unusual. We never interacted with friends and family, never dated. We were basically friends with benefits who also shared deep and casual discussions with daily interaction. I’ll admit I have learned I have fears as well. But each ending consists of him literally disappearing on me. He runs. He can often jump into a new flirtation, take her around his people, date her but it always ends and we always wind up back to each other. He admits now that he doesn’t understand why he can’t let himself do those things with me. There was a point in time, years ago; when he did fall in love with me but then it was like a flipped switch he shut it off and we’ve never gotten back to that place. My counselor thinks it’s because it would “mean too much” to date me. Because we are so right for each other that it could be the real deal and he’s blocking it. Do you agree? I don’t know of anyone else who has gone through something to this degree. I have loved and supported this man in every way I know how. I don’t want to live a life knowing we walked from what could have been the best relationship if we had just given it a chance. Why does he run from me but give himself to other casual girls who never had to “earn” that from him? I know he is confused and I’m giving him space but I’m so tired of the confusion. I have tried to move on as well, but no matter what happens, I long for our connection. I have no control over his actions, but I don’t understand why he won’t just give in to me. Or is it that I really just don’t matter enough? Please help. Thank you.

What Is He Afraid Of?

Answered by on -


Thank you for taking the time to write to us here. This is a very common pattern that has been written about here in the book, The Dance of Intimacy. 

After 6 years I would not expect much to change, and it doesn’t sound like he has the willingness to make a commitment beyond what the two of you already have. While I certainly wouldn’t know if this is happening in your situation my experience has been that couples who find themselves in a longterm relationship like this are each struggling with a fear of commitment. One by choosing someone who can’t commit, and the other by choosing someone who will tolerate it.

It is terrific that you are working on this with your counselor, and I’d encourage you to keep doing so. My experience is that until you decide his behavior is unacceptable you are likely to keep getting the same results. Unless you have a “no”, your “yes” won’t mean very much.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

What Is He Afraid Of?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). What Is He Afraid Of?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 15 Jan 2019 (Originally: 16 Jan 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 15 Jan 2019
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