Commitment Phobia: Not Just a Male Phenomenon?

Origins of the Divide

Q: What has caused this disjointedness between men and women?

A: Audrey Chapman: I think now because of the last 20-30 years - the sexual revolution, the women's movement, all kinds of changes of where women have been out there 'doing men,' they've gotten burned. Now they have as much commitment phobia as the men do.

I think the men became frightened of the women's so-called liberation and so-called freedom and so-called ability to call their own shots in the relationship. It threw the normal patterns and roles off and men were lost as to what to do.

In Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women author Susan Faludi discusses the backlash from the women's movement and what it did to men. She says that men became so frightened and so leery of women that they became ambivalent about their desire to relate to women in a serious manner. They had a need to have a woman in their life but they were simply reluctant to do so.

Q: In your book Seven Attitude Adjustments to Finding a Loving Man, you mention four types of women who fall into the commitment-phobia category. What are those types?

A: Audrey Chapman: There's the Pity Party-Goer. She's always whining and complaining, setting herself up in relationships that couldn't work so she can keep proving to herself that relationships don't work. She's got a self-fulfilling prophecy going on and she believes it. So she just selects people that are going to keep reinforcing it.

Then there's The Boomerang. She keeps leaving and returning and leaving and returning to the same failing relationship, and she does it for a period of years. But that's her way of avoiding commitment.

The next one is The Detective. She is in constant search of the perfect man, the best man, the macho man, the gorgeous man, the professional man, the well-dressed man and the man with the slamming body - and he's got to fit that entire criteria or it doesn't work. If she meets a man who is well endowed, has a nice body, is professional, makes good money and seems to be attentive and kind…but has one false eye, she doesn't want him.

And finally the Picky Picker. She finds a suitable man and then picks him apart piece-by-piece. He doesn't drive the right car, he doesn't make enough money, he's bald, he's too short, he has too much belly. In the end, no one meets her stringent requirements.

Q: But traditional men seem more apt to be afraid of commitment than women. Is that still true?

A: Audrey Chapman: In today's society it's about the same. At one point the stereotype was that men saw marriage as an end to everything and women saw it as a gain. Now with women having such prosperous careers - and also how long it takes to get a career off the ground - you have as many women who are avoiding it as men.