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Unable to Commit April 6, 2009

Posted by occhristiancounseling in Q & A.
Tags: , , ,

mothers_sons-bookSis’s Question: I have a male friend that I’ve been seeing for 3 years, it will be 4 years end 2009. He has a pattern of engaging in relationships with educated, spiritual, professional, very attractive women who he says he loved, but finds himself unable to commit, and generally interacting with other women at the same time. The question is why do some men seek consistent attention from other women when they have a great woman, and a great relationship with someone they love? Why are some men unable to commit their heart and emotions to one woman? His mother committed suicide when he was young adult, but he grew up with both parents. He believes his Mom did this because of the hurt she caused his dad for infidelity. What part could this play on his inability to trust himself to love and be committed?

Dr. Smith’s Answer: We all have difficulty trusting after we’ve experienced a significant hurt. But because men are more emotionally and socially sensitive than women are from birth, it may be especially difficult for them to regain trust. Men are especially vulnerable when it comes to their relationships with women, starting with their mothers.

Nevertheless, men naturally want (and need) to be close to a woman. If this desire is coupled with an intense fear of being hurt, they will pull away before a woman becomes too important to him. If she matters too much to him, she then has the power to hurt him. So he moves on to avoid the pain of being hurt again. This in itself puts men in the very difficult and potentially painful position of (a) wanting to love and be loved and (b) fearing it intensely.

For more information about how a man’s relationship is impacted by his relationship with his mother, you may want to read my book about Mothers & Sons … and/or Mothers, Sons, and Lovers: How a Man’s Relationship with His Mother Affects the Rest of His Life and Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love.


1. Chantal - January 11, 2014

I enjoy looking through an article that can make men and women think.
Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment!

2. Dave - February 17, 2016

Thank you for the explanation. This is my situation. I want to fix it but I don’t know how. I do not enjoy hurting people in process. Csn anyone advise how to get out of this serial relationship addiction.

occhristiancounseling - February 17, 2016

My heart goes out to you, Dave. So many men struggle with the Fearful-Avoidant attachment style. And for very good reasons: They’ve been hurt. A lot.

The good news is that research shows that attachment styles can be changed by developing a secure attachment with someone at some point – a woman, a counselor, or even God.

For men, however, there are social expectation factors that can make it more difficult to reach out. Most men live by the unwritten “Boy Code,” which encourages them to avoid vulnerability at all costs. And you cannot create connection without vulnerability – on both sides.

Where to begin? Self-understanding is a great – and safe – place to start.

Here are a couple of videos that may help:

And if you’ll contact me via my website @ http://drdebismith.com, I’ll send you a coupon for a free copy of my book “Mothers and Sons: How the Maternal Attachment Experience Affects Boys’ Emotional and Social Development”

I look forward to hearing from you!
Warmly, Dr. Debi

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