Love Doc

Plumbing the depths of the psychology and neurobiology of love.

He Just Won't Commit

What to do when he won't say the magic words?

"Why can't we see each other on Friday evenings?" Aimee asked.

A look of annoyance crossed Gene's face as he said "That's my night with the guys. I've told you that over and over."

"OK, OK, I get it." Tears welled up in her eyes.

"Why are you crying?" Annoyance had turned to concern.

Trying to control her sobbing, Aimee asked meekly, "Do you love me?"

"Of course I do. Why do you ask?" Gene looked baffled.

"Well, we've been going together now for two years." Aimee's tears had subsided.

"Yeah, so." Gene spat out the words.

In a soft voice, Aimee said, "When I talk about our future, you change the subject."

"I can't talk about the future because I'm busy getting my career on track." Gene said.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Raising her voice, Aimee said "Now it's your career, before it was your mother's health, before that you weren't ready. All I get is excuses. You just don't want to commit."

Hands waving in the air, Gene said loudly, "There's too much fighting, not enough sex and you're too needy. Get a life, Aimee."

"And you are a spoiled child who doesn't want to grow up and commit." Aimee shouted.

Indeed, that is the core problem. That Gene will not commit is eroding the relationship. The more Aimee presses, the more annoyed Gene gets, and the more excuses he comes up with. Both are frustrated, angry, and hurting each other. So what is a gal like Aimee to do?

Before I provide solutions to gals whose guys won't commit, here is a brief overview of the newest, most exciting scientific findings that underlie my thinking. A more thorough review of the findings and ways to repair your relationship can be found in my new book The New Science of Love: How Understanding Your Brain's Wiring Can Help Rekindle Your Relationship (Sourcebooks, Casablanca, 2011).

In an intimate relationship, mirror neurons ─ miniscule brain cells located behind the eye sockets─ connect partners at an internal level. Each partner mirrors the other partner's actions and feelings of attraction, romance, love, lust, good memories, and happy times. To ensure that these heady experiences occur, the brain triggers the release of love-inducing chemicals such as oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine, testosterone, natural opioids along with mood enhancing neurotransmitters, serotonin, and GABA. And so the chemistry we feel has a scientific explanation. Indeed, the brain is the seat of love and mirror neurons its beating pulse.

Unfortunately, problems, such as the ones that Aimee and Gene are experiencing, do arise. When problems are not resolved, mirror neurons connect you and your partner in resentments, disappointments, and a waning of passion and sexual desire. Hurtful interactions are repeated over and over and get lodged in the brain. Love inducing chemicals are on hold and it seems like the end of love and passion.

It needn't be the end of love, though. Here are some reasons to give you hope. Linked by mirror neurons, once you change, your partner can't help but change also. Not only that but our brains are plastic, so they when we change our interactions, our brains can change also.

As you well know old habits die hard, so that we tend to repeat painful behaviors that become deeply entrenched in the brain. But you can change all of that. Once you bring new healthy experience into the relationship, you will dislodge the old hurt from the brain. With matching mirror neurons, you and your partner can once again enjoy a loving and lustful relationship.

Keeping all of this in mind, here are my suggestions to women like Aimee whose guy won't commit.

Check out his history with prior relationships. When you learn about his past relationships, and even his childhood ones, you will have some answers to why he doesn't want to commit now. Then you will know how to change your behavior so that the chances of him committing are better.

Remember that you are linked to him with mirror neurons so if change your attitude and behavior, he may well move forward. For example, he may have had an over-involved or dependent mother so that he felt either suffocated or burdened by her and in turn by you. Examine your own behavior and you may find you are, unwittingly, suffocating him or are too dependent on him to fulfill all of your needs.

The past is prologue to the present. And so, your past may reveal that you never felt good enough in your childhood. Sure enough, your man's reluctance to commit brings your feelings of inadequacy forward for a most painful situation.

I suggest you find ways to strengthen your self esteem, like supportive female friends, exercise, satisfying work, hobbies, and new exciting new activities. Indeed, strong women make better lovers.
With matching mirror neurons your partner will connect to your new found strengths and independent life. He will feel less threatened that you will either suffocate him or become too dependent on him─ one step forward to a committed relationship.

Email: drpraver@cs.com
Web : www.drfranpraver.com
Social Network: www.facebook.com
Social Network: www.twitter.com
Book website: www.facebook.com/love.dr.fran
Professional Network: www.linkedin.com

 

 

Frances Cohen Praver, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and relational psychoanalyst and author.

more...

Subscribe to Love Doc

Current Issue

Dreams of Glory

Daydreaming: How the best ideas emerge from the ether.