They Don't Want To Commit..


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Dear Maze,

"I've been dating a wonderful man for over a year now. When we are together, we act like a serious couple. We hang out with each other's friends and coworkers, we do fun activities together, we meet with each other's families, and he even says he loves me. There's one critical problem—he doesn't want to fully commit to an exclusive relationship. I want a boyfriend, not a casual date. I wonder what I can do to make him commit without me pressuring? –Laura"

Commitment means giving up on all other possibilities, i.e. the freedom of choice. A big psychological hurdle to commitment is Regret Aversion, a psychological tendency to avoid the regret of making the wrong decisions by not making any decisions at all. If there is no cost, nobody wants to limit oneself by making a commitment. However, if there is a cost, then individuals will compare the cost vs. benefit and decide whether to commit. The cost here is the loss of relationship with you and the benefit is the gain of potential relationship with anyone else.

What works to your advantage is, "losses loom larger than gains." Human beings' fear of loss always outweighs the expectation of equivalent gain. That is what the psychological phenomenon Loss Aversion is all about. People tend to attach a bigger value to the things they own and invest in than otherwise. That's The Endowment Effect. Still, you will need to enhance the value of your relationship to him thus increasing his perceived pain if he were to lose the relationship.

One pleasant way that can tighten up your partnership is to nurture a joint hobby through which you learn, share joy, inspire each other, compete, cooperate, team up, and advance together. It can also benefit both of you in the long run. If this kind of escalated joint investment and partnership doesn't induce a commitment, very few other moves will.

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