12/08/2011 02:53 am ET | Updated Feb 06, 2012

Why Can't Divorced Men Commit? I'll Tell You

(Originally published on

It's pretty simple, actually.

Divorced men want to make sure they get the best possible woman they can. We always wonder, Could I do better? Could I find someone who is a little prettier, a little smarter, a little younger, a little less demanding?

In other words, after a divorce or two, we're careful shoppers. We don't want to close the deal until we're absolutely sure this woman is the one -- meaning, we can't do better. After all, we've been wrong before.

That may sound crass to women, but think of it this way: Do you want a man to settle for you? Do you want him to think, Well, she's good enough? But she's really not everything I'd envisioned.

If that's the case, he's more prone to leave the relationship if he meets someone better. You don't want that, do you?

I say, give the man time to feel comfortable in making a commitment. Hold your horses. Don't get your panties in a wad.

I don't know many men who can be forced into making a commitment by their girlfriend. If he does, that relationship is headed for disaster.

After a man has been divorced, he's even more cautious about committing. Women should realize that and give him extra space and time.

Of course, women shouldn't be expected to wait forever while a man decides whether to commit. They're free to give up on the relationship and move on at any time.

Learn To Negotiate

Actually, her leaving is much more likely to increase a man's interest than to badger him about making a commitment. I think women need to be more assertive and better negotiators in relationships.

Say what you want up front, such as, "I need to know in three months whether you can commit. I don't want to date forever. I need to know where we're headed."

That's a strong negotiating position. If she's really serious, she puts the ball in the guy's court and makes him analyze how he really feels about the woman.

This approach is much better than the woman saying to herself, I hope he commits soon. Why won't he commit? He should. What's he waiting for?

If she doesn't put her cards on the table, she'll get angrier and angrier. She'll become passively aggressive to the guy or downright bitchy. She'll start wanting an answer on the commitment question now.

Meanwhile, the guy steadily backpedals and looks for an escape route.

I get sick of seeing articles on why men in general won't commit. Do a Google search, and you'll find dozens and dozens of articles. Here's a sampling of the headlines:

• Is He Commitment Phobic?
• If He Won't Commit Now, Will He Ever?
• How to Spot a Man Who Won't Commit
• 10 Tips for Getting Your Man to Commit

I say most relationship experts make the commitment question far too difficult.

Again, I repeat my advice: A woman should tell a man clearly that she wants a commitment by a certain date. That's all. He'll realize your position and respect it. He won't feel manipulated and browbeat.

Bottom line: Men understand negotiations, and a relationship sometimes requires negotiation.

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