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5 Hurdles That Keep Him From Committing (And How To Get Over Them)

You and your guy are great together, but he's starting to get distant and you have no idea why. Is he afraid of commitment? Find out!

You and your new man have gone from casual dating to bona fide coupledom when he suddenly starts acting jittery and distant...and you're left wondering What the hell did I do wrong? Well, probably nothing, at least in the rational world. But as you know, the Y-chromosome set can be a strange species. One explanation for the behavior: "Men are conditioned to value their single-guy identity," says George Weinberg, PhD, author of Why Men Won't Commit. "A milestone that seems minor to you can remind him that he's giving up more and more of his autonomous life, which is a tough adjustment." But if you're clued in to the way his mind works, you can guide him past those tricky love hurdles. That's where our advice comes in.

LOVE HURDLE 1: When "I" Becomes "We"

Uttering this minor pronoun tells a guy that the relationship is no longer about you and him but a third entity that signals the end of his totally free bachelor days. Another reason "we" makes a man freak: It hints at possession. "It may sound like you're taking control and speaking for him, and that's a red flag for any guy," explains Perry Buffington, PhD, author of Cheap Psychological Tricks for Lovers.

How to ease his anxiety: Introduce "we" in a way that shows you're on the same team, not that you're a joined-at-the-hip twosome. For example, instead of "What are we going to do this weekend?" say "I thought it would be fun if we went out of town this weekend. What do you think?" That way you don't come off as controlling. "By putting the ball in his court, you're letting him retain a feeling of power," says Buffington.

If you've already said the W word, let it go, then work it into a conversation a few days later. "Once you're a steady couple, you shouldn't avoid referring to yourselves as 'we.' But it's better to use it sparingly for at least a few weeks, so he has time to get over the shock and accept reality," says Buffington.

LOVE HURDLE 2: The First Time You Argue With His Friend

Maybe you think your dude's pals are funny and cool. Or they could be a bunch of raging A-holes. Either way, the time will inevitably come when you'll disagree with one of them, and the ensuing tension will leave your man on edge. "He'll pull back a bit, wondering if he's supposed to take sides or if you're going to demand that he not see his friend again," explains Weinberg.

How to ease his anxiety: As much as it may pain you, "you might want to consider taking the high road by letting his friend know that you didn't mean for things to get heated," suggests Weinberg. (After you've said your piece, of course.)

Then forget about it. "A man's friends and his girl are two of the most important camps in his life. If you hold a grudge or harp on an issue, you will make your guy feel so uncomfortable, he may break things off with you just to be rid of the tension," adds Weinberg.

LOVE HURDLE 3: When He Sees Your Toothbrush In His Bathroom

To you, it's just an innocent toothbrush. But to your man, it's the first in a long list of possessions that he fears you'll try to park at his place permanently. And that makes him panicky. "He's afraid that you might start leaving your personal things at his house as a covert way to foster a sense of domesticity and move the relationship forward before he's ready," explains Steven Carter, author of Getting to Commitment.

How to ease his anxiety: Before you leave any item at his place, ask his permission. "If you're up-front about what you want to stash in his bathroom or bedroom, he won't have any reason to fear that you're trying to manipulate closeness," says Carter. But limit yourself to a few items for a while. "Going from a corner of his medicine cabinet to occupying his closet within a month will make him think you're trying to move in right under his nose," he adds.

You can also appeal to his logical (and lusty) side. "My girlfriend made the case that if she kept a few chick things at my house, she'd be more likely to spend the night with me spontaneously," explains Anthony, 32. "I happily agreed."

LOVE HURDLE 4: When You Start Talking About Shacking Up

You've been a steady item for months and you can easily imagine staying together for the long-term, so it's not like a chat about cohabitation is out of line. But bringing it up can still be dicey. "Even if your man has already secretly given it some thought, moving the topic out into the open can cause him to fear that you don't just want to occupy his apartment—you want to occupy the rest of his life," says Buffington.

How to ease his anxiety: Rather than proposing it suddenly and putting him on the spot, try a more subtle approach by telling him about a friend and her guy who have decided to live together, then gauge his reaction, suggests Weinberg.

Or you might want to initiate a temporary shacking up. "Suggest that you both hold on to your places, but one of you moves in with the other for an agreed-upon amount of time, say six months," says Buffington. Knowing that he has an out should keep him from having a meltdown at the mere mention of cohabiting. "By offering him a temporary deal, he's less likely to feel like you're trying to back him into a corner," says Buffington.

LOVE HURDLE 5: The First Time You Sleep Together And Don't Do It

One of the best perks about pairing up is all that new-relationship nooky you get to indulge in. But sooner or later, the night will come when one or both of you will be too tired, too stressed, or otherwise too preoccupied to get busy. "Even though skipping sex is inevitable, your man will assume the cliche about coupling—that your sex drives are starting to peter out and it's all downhill from there—is coming true," says Buffington.

How to ease his anxiety: Making it up to him with a steamy sack session the next morning or evening when you're more in the mood should quell any concerns he might have that your sex life is going to hell. Or even just nuzzling him for a little while before you doze off should put his concerns to rest.

You might also want to reassure him that you haven't lost interest in him or in booty—it's just not happening that night. "Say something light to acknowledge the situation, such as 'Don't worry, we'll be back in business tomorrow' or 'I hope you plan on seducing me next time I come over,'" says Buffington.

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