The Peculiar Reason Men (and Women) Are Afraid Of Deep Relationships

January 26, 2014

Men want freedom.

At the core of our being is an untamed, primal man that simply wants to be free. We want freedom so badly that we will fight to the death, and are deeply afraid of anything that we consider a threat to it. We’re afraid of getting locked in, having no way out and being stuck for life.

We also want deep love and connection.

As frustrating and unfathomable to women as this may sound, given the choice between deep connection and freedom, many men will choose freedom. While there are men for whom this is not true, this statement will help you understand men.

We have a profound desire for freedom.

Since we often see deep love connection as a threat to our freedom, we end up having to make a choice. On one hand we can have a life where we fully express our purpose and live what’s true for us moment by moment but don’t engage on the deepest level with our romantic partners. On the other hand we have a life of deep connection and fulfillment in relationships yet we will be limited by not being free to fully live out our purpose in life. Both of these options aren’t great, yet this is the reality for many men.

Here is a common scenario, and for the sake of simplicity I’m going to generalize, however the gender roles in this example could easily be reversed.

  • Boy meets girl.
  • Boy and girl start to have feelings for each other that indicate there may be something special about this relationship.
  • Boy holds back and the relationship doesn’t get deeper.
  • Girl feels this, gets upset and pressures boy into commitment.
  • Boy resists, protecting his freedom.
  • Boy and girl break up, she is resentful that he wasted her time and he doesn’t understand why she needed commitment.

Does that sound familiar? It does in my life. I’ve seen friends go through this as well. The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s break this down and see what’s really going on.

They start to have feelings for each other that indicate there may be something special about this relationship.

  • At this point there is no holding back, both parties are happy and there isn’t much (if any) fear about what will happen in the future.

Boy holds back and the relationship doesn’t get deeper.

  • The reason he is holding back is because he is associating a deep relationship with entrapment. If he allows himself to love her fully, he can’t control the outcome. We all do this, men and women. We don’t give ourselves fully to relationships because we’re afraid we won’t like the outcome in the future.

Girl feels this, gets upset and pressures boy into commitment.

  • This is her best attempt at getting what she really wants: a deep connection. I’m convinced that all women have ever wanted was a deep connection, and their best attempt is often to corner a man into being with them exclusively. What’s interesting here is that we as men often associate deep relationships with exclusivity, and if we’re with a woman but it’s not exclusive, we don’t treat her with the same respect. It’s us as men shooting ourselves in the foot.

Boy resists, protecting his freedom.

  • This makes sense, since the girl isn’t really telling him what she wants (although she’s doing her best). She is saying she wants commitment, when what she really wants is closeness. She wants him to stop holding back his love.

Boy and girl break up, she is resentful that he wasted her time and he doesn’t understand why she needed commitment.

A Lesson Learned

After going through this last scenario myself, my life was changed by three words I read in a book from Deepak Chopra called A Path to Love.

Love is unpredictable.

That’s it. If it’s love, it’s unpredictable. I realized that if I wanted to have deep, loving relationships, I had to give up a particular outcome. I had to let it be out of my control. I could hold back and have the life I thought I wanted or I could love fully and roll the universal dice. Only if I was willing to roll the dice and give up control would it be possible for me to fully experience a deep relationship.

But what was I really giving up? Having the life I thought I wanted?

When I looked back over my life I realized I’ve never really known what was best for me. Whether it’s where I want to end up living, what kind of work I will want to do or what my relationships will look like, I’ve never been able to accurately predict my own future. Can you say the same about yourself?

If that’s true, than me trying to make my life fit into a certain box in the future is crazy, stressful, and takes a lot of energy. It’s also a great way to have a boring, predictable love life. Is that what you really want? A love life that’s exactly what you thought it would be?

What Happened When I Let Go

Something amazing happened when I finally let go and started loving women fully, without holding back. I actually felt for the first time that my partner was enhancing my whole life, and I was enhancing her’s as well.

I was sharing everything, being as honest as I could and showing her the parts of me I used to hide. When I formed deep romantic relationships with women, a funny thing happened…

I stopped being afraid of losing my freedom.

I realized that my fear of being with one woman forever was based on a faulty assumption of what’s possible in relationships. Of course I wouldn’t want a life-long relationship if all I had to compare with were the relationships in my past where I was holding back and trying and control the outcome. No one would want that.

When I actually felt what it was like to be in a deep, loving relationship, I realized my life would be far better with this person than without them.

While I can’t speak for all men, the peculiar reason I resisted deep relationships was that I never really experienced a great one, and it was because I never let myself fall in love. It wasn’t the fault of the women I was with, it was me holding back, trying to control the outcome.

A New Definition of Commitment

For most of my love life, commitment was the scariest word in the dictionary. I couldn’t get on board with the idea that I would be giving a guarantee on how things would be in the future. For that reason, I decided to redefine commitment in a way that worked for me.

Commitment is not about an outcome the future, it’s about how deeply I’m involved in the present. It may speak to how I relate to the future, but it is not a guarantee of what will happen in the future.

This brought me a lot of peace of mind. I saw that anything other than being deeply committed would be a waste, since I wouldn’t be fully experiencing the relationship that was happening right now. Four months after I met my wife, I finally got clear on what commitment meant to me in a relationship. It meant playing full-out. The shift for me happened after a conversation I had with a friend from Vancouver named Meeka.

Meeka is totally obsessed with her business and she will become one of the most successful network marketers in Vancouver (if she’s not already). She is working with a company called Vemma and one of their products is a healthy energy drink called “Verve”. As I looked around her house, I couldn’t help but notice that it was covered with Verve products. Her Christmas tree was even decorated with Verve cans. The way she spoke about this company and the people in it was inspiring. Clearly, she was fully committed to this business.

I said to her, “Meeka, I love how committed you are” and her response startled me. She said “yeah, it’s just like being married”.


What I saw was that I could commit fully to a business, yet I didn’t know how to commit to a relationship.

I looked at my relationship and one thing was very clear. I didn’t want to look back and regret anything. I was done holding back. That was the day I decided to play full out, and be two feet in my relationship.

The next day I proposed to my wife, exactly four months after we met.

What’s really important to not mistake here is the order that went in. Marriage was a by-product of my commitment, it wasn’t the catalyst. My decision to get married came after the decision to play the relationship full-out.

The Freedom of Commitment

99% commitment is hard as hell, 100% is a breeze.

You know this to be true in some areas of your life, but is it true for you in romantic relationships? I’m not making a pitch for you to get married, but I am making a pitch for you to stop holding back.

The most counter-intuitive thing I discovered in this journey was that the freedom I was seeking was only found through being 100% in.

Life is too short to not experience the full depth of love with people, whether it’s your family, friends or romantic partners. You know the ways in which you’re holding back right now, and if you don’t, consider that you only have one month to live. That’s it, then you’re gone.

How would you live?

How would you love?


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