OCD, Paranoid Features or Depressed Features
Some men are afraid of relationships because they have an overall approach that makes relationships extremely anxiety-provoking. Men who have OCD or OCD features are often afraid of relationships because of the uncertainty and lack of control that come with relationships. People with OCD have a very high need structure and need to feel that their environment is extremely controlled and predictable. The thought of dealing with messy emotions and having to share an emotional life, as well as a physical space, is often too much to bear.
Men who have a paranoid personality type are often afraid of relationships, as well. Paranoid men are hypervigilant about their environment and screening everyone who comes into their space. They are extremely aware of hierarchies of power and carry the ongoing fear that someone is going to trap them somehow and take advantage of them. For these reasons, reliance and dependence on another person are incredibly far-out notions for the paranoid man.
Suffering from depression or having depressive symptoms has everything to do with relationship status. For single depressed men, they suffer from low motivation and often feel badly about themselves. The idea of a relationship sounds extremely complicated to these men and, in addition, sounds like too much work for someone who is truly dealing with ongoing depressed feelings. Keep in mind that many men don’t talk openly about feeling depressed, so you may not even know the real reason why a given man is afraid of relationships – you just know something is off.
If you’re not a therapist (or a follower of any number of off-the-wall, extreme docu-reality shows), you would probably be more than a little surprised to understand how many addictions people suffer from. Some addictions are more obvious, while others are easier to hide. Part of what comes with the addictive process is extreme guardedness: The addict becomes hypervigilant about who they get close to and they avoid anyone who is going to hold them accountable. Think about it: Having a partner is going to cause an addict – someone in the throes of denial – to feel incredibly anxious, and the addict would find a way in such a situation to escape.
Now that you know about some of the reasons why men fear relationships, consider for a moment the paradox that many men who have a secret fear of relationships are often in relationships! In the relationships, these men often have a hard time maintaining closeness with their partner for any significant length of time: He either never lets them fully in, always keeping them at a distance or cheats, abuses, or witholds sex or affection from time to time. Other men who are afraid of relationships never even try to settle down: They’re the bachelors at 40, never having married; the charming uncle who never brings the same woman to gatherings more than once; or the man who says he wants something long-term but distracts himself with types who are completely in appropriate, so the relationship never has any real chance of going anywhere.
If you have become involved with a man you believe has a fear of relationships, talk to him about it. Tell him what you believe and what you see, and do it in a casual, nonjudgmental manner. If you really want to make a romantic relationship with him work well, offer to go to couples therapy to help him – and you, too! – flesh out these issues. There is hope for men who are afraid of relationships, but they must be disciplined about trying to change and honest with themselves about how dysfunctional their romantic life has been as a result of their relationship fears.
Curated by Erbe