Recently I caught up with a friend, who I'll call Susan. Susan is beautiful, smart and successful. She's longing to get married and have a family of her own, so when she met Mark, it seemed as though her dreams were finally coming true.
Mark was as smitten with her as she was with him. He wanted to see her as often as he could. He spoke about the future and hinted about marriage within the first few weeks of dating. He introduced her to his family and friends. And then he texted her out of the blue one day to tell her he needed to take a break from the relationship because he was scared.
Susan is devastated. She can't understand why he'd pull away so quickly, but she hopes that by being patient and kind about his fears, he'll feel safe to come back. She finds all kinds of ways to justify why he feels scared; he's been hurt before, they got serious too soon, he doesn't know how to handle having such strong feelings for someone, he doesn't feel worthy of love. She's refusing to move on and date other men even though she hasn't heard from him in weeks. She's determined to prove to him that she can be his soft place to land in a cruel world.
What does it really mean when a guy says he's scared?
The first thing; look for is his pattern because patterns don't lie, at least not if you're willing to be honest about what his relationship history is telling you. Yet, often women ignore what they discover because of how he makes her feel.
Most of the time it isn't that a woman has done something "wrong," in fact often it's the opposite reason. Let me explain how clever the mind is.
Your brain and mine is designed to protect ourselves at all cost. For a man, dating a woman that is unavailable isn't risky because he never intends to have a serious relationship with her from the onset. That's why the prostitute, married woman and escort can't hurt him emotionally. He will never allow those women to get close to his heart. Each has a built in buffer that prevents (protects) him from letting her get too close.
The Woman That Really Scares Him
What most women don't realize is it's the woman he actually loves that scares him the most. She is the one that he'll let into his heart and once there - she COULD leave him. It doesn't mean that she will, but because he's likely experienced being abandoned before, that experience fuels his irrational fear. This is what makes most women feel like they must have made a huge mistake with the man they love.
Everything was going great and then out of nowhere he suddenly falls "out of love." Whenever I see this pattern in a man I'm not thinking the woman did something wrong (although sometimes women do make mistakes that can drive a man away), I'm instead focusing on the man.
What To Look For
It would be wonderful if a man carried a card that said, "I'm afraid of letting you get close." The reality is the man that's fearful of commitment often comes across as extremely confident about how is feelings.
It's not uncommon for them to try and rush the relationship in the early stages. I beg you - please don't let that happen. He may get upset that you're pacing the relationship but that's how you can tell how he'll treat you over the long haul.
See, it's easy for a man to be charming and kind when everything is going well, what you want to see is how he treats you when he doesn't feel affectionate to you.
If he punishes you for pacing the relationship, then think about what this says about his character. He's showing you that when things get difficult, that when he feels uncomfortable, his response is to run. What will your future be like with someone who bails in that way?
Even if he comes back, what's to stop him getting scared and running away again if he gets cold feet the day before your wedding? When you tell him you're pregnant? When one of you loses a job? When you, or one of your kids get sick? You need a man you can lean on, not someone who makes his scared feelings more important than the people he loves.
If you find a guy who tries the "I'm scared and need to go sort my head out" excuse, just understand what he's showing you about how he handles difficulties and tell him to take all the time he needs. While he's trying to sort out his fears let other men audition for your heart. And then find a man who might also be scared by the strength of his love for you, but finds the fear of losing you to be far greater and far more intolerable. This is what you deserve.
Tiffany Mcevoy is a relationship coach and writer for high-achieving women who are ready to quickly meet and marry their soul mates. She has been coaching since 2010 and has worked with women from every continent on how to attract and sustain the healthy, loving relationship of their dreams.