Black Women's Improvement Project (BWIP)

Men Who Rush In: Scammers, Cons or Commitmentphobs?

Have you ever read a book that made you think of this?

That’s how I felt when I fired up Men Who Can’t Love on the Kindle for Mac. (On a side note, just because I’m reading this particular book electronically doesn’t mean you Kindle fanatics have another one to join your legion, umkay? I just…needed the book, and, uh…with the Kindle, I can, uh…not have to wait and pay for shipping. I’ll concede to that perk, but THAT’S IT. Just don’t expect a commitment from me.)

Speaking of that dirty c-word, Men Who Can’t Love is written by a male psychologist who examines is detail why some men come on strong when you’re not interested, wine and woo you, and when they get you on the hook they cut bait. This had happened to me more times than I care to admit. But this ONE time was really bad, because he wasn’t my type. He was sort of shortish, and stocky. And shaved his head bald. Had the more beautiful set of chompers I’d ever seen, smooth dark skin but that was about it for me. He drove a tow truck (his own business) and he stopped me at a gas station on my way from work. DON’T ASK me why I gave him my number–sheesh–my only defense is I was in my early 20’s and well…at that age you aren’t mean and ready to cut a dude’s gonads off if he asks. He called, and called, and called, begged me to go out on a date, told me how beautiful and wonderful I was, showered me with attention, and after about 3 months of that, I let him in my place. And then I thought I saw wholly geezus that night in front of the fake fireplace in my apartment. Shortly after, The Great Switch occurred, and I became the fisherman when he was ready to cut bait. It’s not until today that I have a firm grasp of what happened.

Yes; you could say he just wanted the chase, but that would just be too simple. He changed right when things were perfect. He had from me what he said he wanted–a monogamous relationship–then all of a sudden, he’d call less. Which put me in the position to call more. In the end, I was the one wondering what the cuss happened, how and why it all went wrong, and wondering just where the heck I went wrong. Had abdicating my upper hand been the death knell? Probably. But not necessarily because he just liked the thrill of the chase and took the bastardo way out. Maybe si, maybe no.

Carter describes this behavior as “pursuit/panic syndrome”:

His overall pattern falls into what I call the “pursuit/panic syndrome.” All that really means is that the guy does a one-thousand-degree pursuit until he feels that the woman’s love and response leaves him no way out of the relationship-ever. The moment that happens, he begins to perceive the relationship as a trap. That trap provokes anxiety, if not total panic. Before the woman knows what is happening, the man is running from the relationship, running from her, and running from love. In these relationships, there are usually very distinct stages and very distinct patterns within each stage. The major variable is how long each stage lasts. Some men can go through all the stages of the pursuit/panic syndrome in the course of one night. Others take years.

Steven Carter. Men Who Can’t Love: How to Recognize a Commitmentphobic Man Before He Breaks Your Heart (pp. 24-25). Kindle Edition.

Raise your hand if that’s ever happened to you. Yes, yes, I see you. And you. And you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you.

But the question is, why do these guys even BOTHER? If their not sociopaths or narcissists, then whaaat? Carter calls these men “commitmentphobs,” and likens their behavior to that of people who suffer from psychological phobias like a fear of flying, fear of small spaces, ants and spiders, and people who wear white after Labor Day. In fact, the commitmentphob has a predictable behavior pattern. Take a look-see:

1. The Beginning: All he can think about is how much he wants you.

2. The Middle: He knows he has you, and it scares him.

3. The End: You want him, and he’s running scared.

4. The Bitter End: It’s all over, and you don’t know why.

Yep. Sounds about right.

And when it goes wrong, it goes terribly, horribly, and tragically. They start to back away. They suddenly discover relationship hurdles that were invisible before. This one struck WAY out:

He starts to find fault with you and looks for reasons why the relationship will not work. He may hurt you by bringing these “faults” to your attention, particularly if they are things you can’t change (e.g., “I’m not sure if my parents can ever accept that you are one of the following: Irish, Italian, black, white, Jewish, Gentile, Wasp, short, tall, divorced, too old, too young, too rich, too poor, too medium). Or he may save them up and spring them on you when he finally decides the relationship should end. (Incidentally, these “faults” rarely have anything to do with anything you have done to him; they almost always have to do with the “way you are.” He was fully aware of these qualities when he entered the relationship and persuaded you to join him.)

The key, Carter says, is to identify these men BEFORE you’re emotionally invested. And I know some of you might say, “Well, that what the three-month rule is for!” or, “That’s what waiting until marriage is for!” And Carter will tell you that you are wrong. These guys pull out as early as a few hours into a date up until after they’ve said “I do.”

More on this to come. In the meantime…I’m curious how many train wrecks I might have prevented right…now.


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