I’ve been told that women dread getting too involved with a so-called commitment-phobe. The fact that I continue to hear Marc Anthony's hit song "Need to Know" in any context other than a roller rink seems to indicate that the are-we-aren't-we question is still a relevant one in people's lives. So is there a quick and easy way to tell ahead of time whether you’re dealing with a contender or a pretender?
Maybe, maybe not, as time is typically the truest test. But here are a few things to look out for when trying to decide if you’ve met a man who’s ready to commit.
Does he ask you on a date? Or does he just want to “hang out?” This might sound nitpicky, but a man who uses the term “date” is suggesting a bit of commitment. He is not afraid to call a spade a spade and have others calling it such. I once had a girl freak out a little bit when I asked her out on a “date,” because, to her, dates mean relationships and she had just gotten out of one and wasn’t ready for a new one. I "hang out" with my buddies. If I am interested in exploring a relationship with a woman, I ask her out on a date. So if some bro wants to "hang out" with you, it might be worth asking, "Are you asking me out on a date?" Or it just might be worth saying,"No, thank you."
02. Consistency and Reliability
Does he ask you out ahead of time, or does he expect you to be available the night of? Does he keep his commitments, or does he expect you to reschedule without much reason? Does he show up on time? All are indicators of how much he values his time with you and how much he expects you to be available to him. But even more so, they can show if he sees you as a priority or someone who can easily be moved down his list. Which leads me to...
03. Direct and Communicative
So the man took you out on a great date—and then didn’t call you for two weeks. He texted you all day every day for a week, then didn’t respond to your texts for another week. He’s quiet during the week but weekend nights he's Mr. Flirt. All marks of a man who isn’t quite serious yet—or never will be.
If I’m really into a girl, all I can think about is her and what I want to say to her next and when I get to see her next. I don't play hard to get. Of course, everybody gets busy, so you shouldn’t necessarily read into a day or two or even a full weekend without communication, even if that can seem like an eternity. Beyond that, it’s probably an indication he’s not ready to be serious.
Does he seek out time with you where he can actually get to know you, or is your time together nothing more than social time and you just happen to be there? Group dates certainly have their place, but to build a real relationship, you need to spend a lot of one-on-one time, with group activities as a supplement.
By one-on-one time, I don’t mean making out all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of making out. But physical intimacy does not make a relationship. There’s so much more to a relationship, and if he’s in for the long haul, he will be interested in all of you, not just your body. Which reminds me...
05. Taking It Slow
OK, I admit it, I watch Millionaire Matchmaker. And I like it. (Just don’t tell anybody.) Take it from Patty or take it from me: A man who wants something real will wait for someone he finds worth waiting for. It’s that simple.
But it’s not just sex. A relationship that begins heavy with physical intimacy often becomes all about physical intimacy, as most of us have learned the hard way. As much as we might love that part of a relationship, smart guys know that a committed coupling is a marathon, not a sprint. So while you might be left wondering, “Why doesn’t he just kiss me?” he just might be doing his best not to “stir up love before it's time.”
06. Willingness To Talk About Your Relationship
I’m not saying you should give him an ultimatum, although great things can come from ultimatums. You don’t even have to ask him point-blank, “Are you ready for a committed relationship,” as much as you might want to get a quick and easy answer.
Instead, have a conversation fairly early on (by the end of date two or three) about what his goals are in life, and ask him where he is with them. This is a very normal and non-threatening way of finding out if he wants a committed relationship in general. If so, he’ll make it fairly clear on his own, and there’s no guessing necessary. You can even hold him to it if somewhere down the road he seems to be dragging his feet. You can also feel free to make it clear that that’s what you’re looking for.
Personally, women find out pretty quickly that I want to get married and have a family and that any relationship that I enter will have those goals in mind. My sense is that if a man values a committed relationship with the woman he’s with, that won’t be a mystery to her either.
Keep in mind, a lot of dudes are fairly clueless about all things relationship, even good ones. So when in doubt, communicate, listen, trust your gut, and don’t be afraid to challenge him. And, if necessary, cut bait. Because a woman with ideals like you is worth committing to, even if the guy you’re with doesn’t realize it.