Unemotional With Commitment Issues

A woman looks sad because her boyfriend is unemotional and has commitment issues, and her boyfriend sits in the background looking unemotional Dear Jane.

I've been with bf two yrs now. He is 34 and I'm 42. I have a 17 yr son.

He lives a 40 min drive away. Due to work commitments we often see each other Wednesday eve for a few hours and Fri to Sunday. I always drive up there and back.

My son goes with the flow but has no relationship as such with my bf. Due to the small size of my house my son has kind of taken over the living room as his room is very small.

Anyhow I am very concerned and scared as to where our relship is going.

He is a very calm quiet and emotionally closed person but has a great sense of humor and we laugh non stop.

The thing is though..he NEVER EVER initiates any conversation that involves us as a couple that reflects his hopes or plans or feelings for us. He never really says anything to do with feelings with regards to us, his family, friends, sadness, compassion, empathy etc etc.

The only time it seems anything like that is present, is when I bring it up or I'm upset and he calculates that it needs some kind words. The responses are verbally caring but physically there is rarely any obvious emotion from a sad situation to a happy one.

When I on occasion, out of sheer desperation,  have brought up issues that need at least an understanding, affirming, caring or a from the heart response, there is...nothing...nothing but a sullen,  vague, blank or frustrated look..no words..no hug..no hand. There is a heck of a lot of silence though and if I do manage to coax out some words they are...I don't know, haven't thought about it, I take each day at a time, why do you have to upset this lovely day we had with this. ...etc etc.

He says he loves me and I'm his best friend and he does look after me when I'm with him. We joke about and make up funny games do crazy stuff together but....get serious on him and it's like I've just asked him something outrageous.

He never shouts, is never mean, is very loyal, but basically doesn't get out of his zone for no one unless maybe the house is on fire.

I'm often hinting at how hard it's becoming for me to continually drive up there..the petrol..the wear and tear on the car..the goodbyes when I leave..

He says shall I pay towards petrol?  Seriously? ! Does he not see it..

He has nothing in his town except his job..no links whatsoever.  Where I live is where I work, where all my friends live and my aging parents and my sons college AND his parents and brother and grandad and aunts and uncles are in the same area as mine..like a mile down the road! It's totally impractical for us to move. He's aware of this..

He's not overly affectionate either. I've often bear hugged him and his arms would stay right where they are..by his side. He hates french kissing. I'm not joking. He's not into displays of public affection and I'm talking hugs and hand holding. .not unless he's had a pint or two.

He's become better at hugging me but I think I've also accepted his ways to some extent.

He still says he loves me... I love him to bits and have never been with such a kind loyal and patient person.

Have you any thoughts Jane?

I'm just so desperate for him to at least mention something about us having a future but I'm feeling so much like the weekend hobby. ...:'(.

Please help me....xxx

My response:

Dear Caz,

I so hear your pain.

It’s never easy when you see it so clearly from where you are, and when everyone else can see it too, but the one person you so want to see it, doesn't. It doesn't make sense on so many levels – to you.

But the reality is, people do what they do for a reason. Whether they realize it or not. This is working for him. It’s comfortable for him.

Whether he’s aware of it or not – and usually they aren't because they don’t give these things the same kind of thought that we do – it’s what he’s comfortable with. Yes, he’s farther away than he really needs to be, but he’s quite content to stay where he is. He doesn't give you more because what he’s giving you is as much as he’s wanting to give.

There’re so many reasons why, but the only one that matters is that none of this has anything to do with you, Caz.

This is all about him and his choices and his issues. And as much as you've tried talking to him about what you want to see different, about what you need from him, his response confirms how he feels and where he’s at  - and how much he’s content with the way things are.

When you've told him how you feel, and you've asked for him to do something different, when you've given him both the subtle hints you have and direct ones he can’t ignore as well, you can know that he knows where you’re coming from.

The next part is up to you.

You've seen by his actions where he stands. You've heard from his words how he feels about all this. The ways he responds to what you say, and the behaviors you get or don’t get from him all reveal the same thing – this is who he is, these are his terms for your relationship, and this is where he’s at.

Believe him. Hear him.

And most of all, accept him and where he’s at. That’s how you find your own peace. See him for who he is and what he has to offer you. Can you live with his terms? Can you live with him the way he is? It comes down to you, Caz, and what he’s worth to you, and what having him in your life on his terms is worth to you versus not having him in your life at all.

You’re not going to change him. You can only change yourself.

If you can live with what he offers and he’s worth it to you, then accept that. But if you can’t, if you want more than he’s offering you, then accept that, too.

And make your decision based on the reality of what is, of what he’s told you and what you see in his actions, and not on the fantasy of what you know it could be like “if only” he could do this or that.

You’re not here to change him, it’s not your role to change anyone or convince them of why they should want to commit to you on a deeper level. It has to come from him. He has to want it, too.

If you’re content to live your own life and fill it with the people and things that make you happy and fill your own cup independent of him, then what he does or doesn't do won’t matter as much and you can adjust your expectations of him. But you have to be honest with yourself on whether you can truly live like that or you’ll only be looking for more from him than what he’s capable of giving you.

And that’s a tough way to live.

There isn't anything wrong with what you want from him, Caz; there isn't anything wrong with where he’s at. But if you’re both on different pages, if you’re both looking for something different, then you need to decide just how compatible you truly are.

Choose you first, Caz, and then choose to do with him and this relationship whatever brings you the greatest amount of peace and calm and leaves you with the least amount of regrets.

Trust yourself to know, trust your heart, your gut instincts. You’re with him, you know him, and you know you. The only person you answer to is yourself.



What do you think? Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for our dear friend Caz? Share them with us in the comments.


  1. Kristy says

    Listen to what she's saying, Caz. It's sad to say but it's the "same" story over and over, we do this to ourselves. We don't believe what men tell us, you should take it for exactly what it is. Don't think well maybe if I try harder he will see what he's missing. He won't. Sometimes it's easier for people to realize what they're missing when it's gone. And if you give him that distance, and he realizes what he had - great. Maybe he will change, but he needs to realize it for himself. If he doesn't miss you, then at least that time apart should bring you some satisfaction each day that you're still living, even without him, and hopefully every day gets easier and happier for you. But running after him, making all the effort, will not change this situation, it will only get worse. He will never see you for the amazing woman you are if you allow yourself to be seen as desperate or willing to wrap yourself around him and what he wants. You have a life too, and you can only find true happiness in yourself, and by living YOUR life. I have learned so much from reading these articles, and I hope they help you too. Good luck!

    • Avaline says

      i really agree with Jane... i feel its better you blend in the way he is , the way accepts, expects and with what he is comfortable with. Very few of us tend to have this in us to accept this and if u really luv him you will definitely do everything in his favor and he will luv u even more better day after day :)

  2. Kristy says

    One more thing I'd like to add, is that I dated one of these guys for two years as well, I feel your frustration. However, him putting me at a distance forced me to spend a lot of time alone, something I was not used to, and it gave me the time to find things I like doing by myself. And eventually those little things led to big important things in my life that have given me so much self confidence, I cannot begin to explain. I would not have figured these things out about myself if I hadn't taken that time alone. Although in the back of my mind, I was alone because I was waiting for him, but after building up my self confidence, I started to attract a lot of attention. That positive attention coupled with my frustration that HE couldn't see those things about me that others did, quickly let me realize that I don't have to wait around - I'm awesome just the way I am - and so are you! Allowing this man to question yourself and rearrange your lifestyle is self-defeating. Give YOURSELF time and space from him. If he doesn't see how special you are, it's his loss.

  3. Maris says

    Love is not complicated Caz. Just think of your son and your love towards him.
    That kind is love. Where you feel warm & safe. And if it is rocky, you feel inside
    This power of love.... And you continue.

    You sound like he is now the only man who ever
    Gave you that "love or butterflies feelings".
    This is hard to accept, but love is more than just those feelings.
    Love is accepting each other and going a path together where you feel secure and
    I believe to build a relationship with someone there should be more than just
    Butterflies & sexual attraction.

    This was also for me a huge step to accept . I thought that no man could make me feel
    Like my ex. Which is a lie I told myself, and lived by it.(hoping, believing in a fairy, doing things a did not like, thinking And making excuses)
    So Caz ask yourself why do you stay with this man? Are you dealing with insecurities deep down?

    I do believe what u want from a relationship is healthy.
    Only there is something about him , that he does not want to take the next step in the relationship.
    Which doesn't matter what is, because you want a relationship and it seems he does not right now...

    You say u are having a son , be aware that if your in a unhealthy relationship. Your son is going to pick up
    These negative energies/feelings. Your sending him messages that you are not happy, this could also have
    An effect on your son .
    I speak from experience, my mother was a single mother in a unhealthy relationship and had insecure thought about men.
    Which she now after all these years sees as unhealthy for her daughter. She was an example , but thought me
    That was love and relationships... Now I am older, looking back it was an bad example for me & my filtered experience "to love" .

    What message are you sending towards your son?

    I hope you stay true to yourself Caz. And it is difficult and hurts...
    Don't feel stupid or weird because of him or the situation. It is already brave
    That you shared your feelings. Listen to Jane, if you let her in your heart she can
    Also help you.

  4. Rebecca says

    Wow! I am so in a similar relationship. Find out more about his childhood and family. If you think it'll bring up a negative, take the little bit of information your bf gets, and gradually, here and there ask little questions so you can understand why he's distant. Find out or may be you know. Did he get kudos/ compliments growing up? How did and or does his family treat him? Did he have positive role models growing up? Sometimes trauma or some experience makes people emotionally distant. I know all these things apply to my bf. And I've looked at everything from which way and upside down and out. I love my bf and cannot and don't want to think about him in my life. The fact that you laugh is wonderful. Is the intimacy great after sex? Is it making love or sex to your bf? If your bf bonds during "making love", and its not sex that's precious. I could go on and on... That's what I have to add! The best of luck! Don't lose sight of your needs and worthiness! I know I do at times. However I am working on me and its important to me! No one can live your life, but you. We can share, love, etc. We need to love ourselves, be kind, gentle, compassionate to us because "you" only live once!

    • Rebecca says

      I meant to say I cannot and don't want to imagine my BF not in my life. My life is so much more blessed with my bf in it!

  5. Nina says

    This guy seems OK, he is stable, he says he loves her, he is never mean. He might simply belueve that shiwing emotions is not a "guy" kind of thing. Or maybe he is showing his emotions in his "guy" kind of way, which for guys translates into doing certain things rather then displaying a physical emoruonal reaction, such as crying. If he does not bring up committments or discusses future and it bothers, maybe it is time to initiate those discussions. The only concerning part is that he is not trying to relate to the sun, but given that the sun is nearly an adult, and taking it well, maybe it is all right.

  6. Meg says

    Based on what you've described, you and this man are not a good fit. You clearly need more emotional connection than this man is capable of giving you (I would, too). He cannot satisfy you; it's just the way he is. It is just not in him. There could be someone out there for him that would not have an issue with this. I know there are good times, but he is separate from your daily life and other relationships (your son, your family) and does not truly take part in all of who you are.This will not change or it would have already It is not a small thing to overcome and it really bothers you or you would not have been inspired to write. Tell him you need to start seeing other men, and take steps to do it.

  7. Mitch Lester says

    I would like to recommend a book if you are inclined to read to improve your chances at love. I am reading it now and it has helped me with a similar situation though I am a man. The book is: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find — and Keep — Love, It is a thoroughly researched approach to understanding how adults form attachments to each other and is simple to understand and highly predictive of how relationships between people will turn out, based on recent psychological research. It groups people into three attachment style, I have the "anxious" attachment style. My girlfriend has the "avoidant" attachment style. She is almost as unemotional towards me as your boyfriend with you. The book described my relationship with her almost to a tee. It offers strategies to deal more effectively with the problems. I recommend this book. Good luck!

  8. Grainne Kelly says

    Hi Caz,
    I think you give wayyyy too much to him, you need to pull away and let him chase and come to you. You are giving yourself to him on a plate and you deserve way better than that. I think he sounds like an ass and has no serious intentions at all. I would dump him and find someone that will treat you like a Princess, he is not serious about you at all. I mean, the petrol thing, jeez! And when you hug him and he keeps his hands by his sides...hello! And no public displays of affection!!! Warning bells!! Iwould not be going back to him, that's for sure, what a jerk! You don 't need to change yourself, if he doesn't show you real love and affection then that is his problem! You 're too good for him, men like the chase. You should be treated like a princess. Be strong and turn your heels the other way! You deserve better'
    Anyway, I wish you well!
    Lots of love and best wishes ,
    Grainne x

  9. Carolyn says

    Caz. it is hard to start over. Especially when you believe in your heart that YOU can handle the differences between the two of you. And YOU can change him if you show him enough love. If you don't make a break now and get over your heart ache, you will do it later in life when you become even more mature. You are setting an example for your son as well. He sees your dissatisfaction and feels your pain. How do YOU have a relationship with anyone and your son does not? Are you giving any attention, hugs and kisses to him? He's a kid but boys need us too. Take a minute and think about what you would REALLY like to have in a relationship. BF isn't the last man on earth, and you don't have to hold fast to the crumbs of happiness. A good satisfying life awaits you. You just have to have faith enough to believe that and go for it.

  10. annette says

    I am in the same situation but I have been with my boyfriend for 7 1/2 hears, the first 5 hears he was in drug recovery and is now clean. I went to rehab with him and stood by him and let him live with me while he got his medical license reinstated. He now lives 2 hours away. I drive to him on wednesday nights and work in that town on Thursday and Friday and then i drive 2 hours back to my town at 6 am on Monday, to work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. He does give me gas $, helps with car payment and gives me spending money and very nice gifts/trips, all of which i dont mind taking since i helped him get to where he is at and supported him during that time. However, I know he told a family member that he thinks I want to get married and he will not marry me, that he might change his mind so someday but for now there was no way. Since he has been at his new job as a doctor for the last 2 years he has gotten even more arrogant and I heard him make sexual inuendo to his office manager I am tired of the drive, missing time with my grown daughters and grand children...all of which seldom visit at his house as he rarely wants company so I always see them at my home. He has ocd and I believe be cant stand to have his routine interrupted.
    When I bring up these concerns to him, he says I am whining that I have it made and any woman would love this arrangement. I am torn because I do love him but am getting very unhappy and my increased suspicions are making it worse as well as his replies to any concerns I may have as he gets defensive and says I need to change my attitude. I am legal assistant and feel like I have plenty of common sense but with him and I am having such a hard letting him go after all the love and time I have invested in this relationship.
    Please help with your great advice...

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