It’s the age-old adage: men do not want to commit. However, what if there’s more to it than that? Maybe there are reasons that women can never read their minds or unpack all the reams of mixed signals. Read on for a few reasons why guys might find it more difficult or are more hesitant to jump into relationships than women.
- They’re often repressed. This sounds like a sweeping statement but stay with me. Guys are always portrayed as having to be coerced into relationships, or tricked into it with a bet or a funny gimmick (see: Ten Things I Hate About You or She’s All That, or literally any Noughties rom-com). That, or they do commit and become henpecked or emasculated by the woman and appear passive. These two stereotypes are not true. However, they are all the images of relationships that guys see so it becomes an undesirable prospect. It leads to repressed feelings and an unwillingness to be vulnerable for fear of being negatively perceived.
- They don’t know how. No wonder guys are hesitant about relationships! Unlike women, who are constantly faced with images of how to be a great and dutiful wife, men are rarely fed the same images. Guys are either bachelors or dons or shown having affairs and being generally unhappy. There are very few media portrayals of genuinely unproblematic, balanced marriages. Without the proper experience, how can they be expected to be immediately good at relationships? We know full well that they are skills learned over time.
- Society tells them to be players. Simply put, guys are told that in order to be attractive they have to withdraw their affection. Play hard to get. Stop replying. Ghost. Be cruel. But that isn’t really what women want, certainly not nowadays. Well, most of the time. But there are so many other ways to be sexy than by being a player. Commitment and intentionality is so attractive.
- They’re told to mess women around. Lots of the time, men will be taught bad habits and those habits are difficult to unlearn. I’m not offering excuses for their behavior or suggesting that “boys will be boys,” but there is often an explanation for aspects of their reluctance to commit. After so many generations of being told about a certain way to behave, course-correcting that in the other direction can seem daunting. It means that they don’t try at all.
- They lack an emotional support system. Women are lucky in the respect that we’ve never been told that it’s unladylike to talk about our feelings in the way that men have. We’ve always had the natural and accessible outlet of friends and family to talk about our feelings with. Men, however, have to actively work back against this system. It’s no wonder they barely know how to take care of themselves, let alone another person by the time they hit their mid-twenties. This leads to guys being hesitant to get into relationships and many other things. Women can’t be responsible for this transformation, but we can set them in the right path. Don’t throw yourself in the ocean and drown trying to fix someone, but give him a chance.
- Their friends egg them on. Toxic masculinity is a mother. We know that. But it manifests itself in insidious ways that you don’t expect. Peer pressure mixed into this makes for a very poisonous devil on your shoulder. When one’s mates are encouraging people to get on the pull each night, or encouraging dangerous behavior, it’s so hard to push back. Escaping this cycle would involve being alone, romantically and platonically by rejecting their group of friends. Again, this is extremely overwhelming.
- It’s easier to be casual. Casual sexual encounters or ghosting when things get hard can work for a short period of time, but eventually, you want more. It’s also hard on the person at the other end of this emotional repression. It can take guys a while to realize what they want is right in front of them, but when casual dating is so easy with online apps and hookup culture, you can see why anyone would balk at the pressure of a relationship.
- It’s too traditional. This is a big issue for lots of people just starting out in relationships. They’re too focused on what they think relationships are meant to look like, or how intimacy is meant to present itself. But there are so many ways to show your love than just sex and rock and roll. If sharing a bed stresses you out, then don’t! Erase these unspoken rules and accommodate your relationship to your needs. It’s yours, after all! If you want to be the small spoon, communicate that. Relationships are all about compromise, and a lot of the time guys seem to think it’s all or nothing and then they panic and jump out the window to escape.
Most modern guys are becoming more and more self-aware and confident in themselves, and that’s great to see. However, if you are wondering why many men are still reluctant to jump into a relationship, hopefully, this list sheds some light on the issues they’re unpacking.