It sounds like your son has a commitment phobia, where everything goes really well for a while and then all of a sudden he starts finding things maybe little things that are wrong with the woman and then changes his feelings for the girl. A person who is commitment phobic fears and avoids having to commit to a relationships. Usually the person with the commitment phobia will be critical of their mate in the relationship. They will set out to sabotage the relationship even if its going well and progressing well they find things that may be wrong as a means to break up. Some commitment phobics really want to meet the right mate and get married, but will often have somewhat unrealistic ideals regarding what that person should be like because they want to be able to make it look like it's the other person and not them.
The causes of this phobia are sometimes associated with a loss or trauma of some kind such as an absent father whether it be physically or mentally. Maybe as a child they had a bad relationship with their father or someone they trusted hurt them very badly. This can have an effect on their approach to adult relationships. Often, at the heart of the fear, is the fear of rejection by others. If he gets scared he will reject first so that he won't be rejected, they will distance themselves and their mate to feel safe. What he needs to find out is where the root of the problem is and then take the steps to get over these issues, most of the time it will require some professional help so that they can help him to find out where those feelings stem from and then and only then can he figure out a solution for that issue.
Since this is a repetitive behavior with him and his relationships it will only continue to happen until he can get the help he needs to overcome his phobia for commitment, a commitment phobic craves what he fears most: love and connection, they avoid committing to long term relationships such as marriage. Previous abusive relationships, intimacy issues or traumatic childhood experiences could be causes for this kind of commitment avoidance. Another possibility is that the child might have witnessed, or been a victim of, absent role model, or even abusive relationships during those formative years. Not surprisingly, this can affect the way they feel and handle relationships as an adult.
By no means was I saying you were the reason for his issues now, I was just trying to give you examples of what might cause this type of behavior I also included the fact that he may have had a relationship that ended badly where he didn't want the relationship to end but the other person did and there for he felt rejected but in most cases not all an absent father is the cause of commitment phobia. He could also be afraid that if he gets serious with a woman then he has to lose his own identity to make her happy and if the woman is truly in it for the long haul then she will support him no matter what he chooses to do. If this is something he has done before then he has to want to stop this no one else can and as much as you want him to be happy and with someone that loves him he has to feel that he deserves to be loved and wanted without the added pressure of fear of commitment. He asked this woman to marry him for a reason there was something about her that actually made him want to settle down with her but what you need to find out is why he has had a change of heart before you can even begin to work on the issue. Was it something about her? Did she do or say something that changed his mind? Is she always supportive of what he wants and vice versa? These are questions that need to be asked but if he has gone to counseling and nothing helped then he may not have gone long enough or may not have opened up about his commit issues and what caused it.
What you may need to do is, make him understand that to change his behavior, he first needs to change how he feel about commit and long term relationship inside. It's not difficult if he realizes one thing: if he is commitment phobic, then he is committed to the behavior of being afraid of relationships so he can also change that so that he is committed to being with one person and be assure that they love him unconditionally and wants him to be happy. I think the only person that can change his mind about commitment and marriage is his fiancee, if he knows that she is in it for the long haul he will be more apt to give it a try but there is something that is scaring him away from committing, she may be talking too much about the wedding plans and the future instead of living for the here and now. Maybe she is keeping him from doing something he wanted to do and now feel he cannot because she is in the picture that is why it's important for her to always be supportive.
What you can do as his father is to explain to him that relationships are not perfect and they have their ups and downs and that it's normal to have issues in a relationship but as long as he and his mate work at those issues anything is possible he has to know that break ups are not failures and it's a normal process to finding your soul mate or the right person for you, what he may have done was gotten his heartbroken and then blamed himself and thought it was something he did and now he breaks up with them before the have a chance to break up with him. What he has to realize is it may not have been him and it's just a process of dating and finding that special someone. Now that he has found that special someone he has to want to make it work and commit to being with her and marrying her and giving the relationship a chance.
Reading your further response leads me to believe that you may benefit better talking to one of our psychiatry experts they may be better equipped to give you some ways and guidance into how to handle your sons situation I think it is more of a mental issues as to why he cannot commit. I'm sorry I was unable to help you with your issue. Please let me know if that is what you rather I do or would you like for me to continue working with you on your son's issue?
You're quite welcome! Good luck to you!
I am Nancy and I saw this question open up in Psychiatrist/Mental Health.
I just want to recap to see if I am correct- yuor son dated a girl but after a few dates lost all feelings for her - then, continued to date her and proposed - but now regrets it.
Is that right? I am really looking for the timeline - just to see if that's right.
Thank you for clarifying. That information helps a lot. I just want to mention first - that when people *are* commitment phobic - that it doesn't always stem from childhood neglect or abuse. But that's not what is going on with your son.
What is going on with him is that he has become detached from his feelings. He has simply shut down - emotionally- which is what you are stating over and over. People do this for many reasons (which are, for right now, unimportant). They intellectualize their feelings- and mistake their feelings for thoughts - and eventually can say they feel, but you can see and hear that they are not expressing or actually making decisions based on their subjective experience of their own feelings. When some engages in intellectualization - they sometimes think they are feeling, but when you ask them about how they feel, they aren't sure - that is the litmus test of a disconnect to their own feelings.
Treatment starts with counseling to help him identify his feelings and reconnect to them. Most people who do this are fairly analytical in nature - are usually of above average intelligence and are quite popular in their peer group.
Again, for right now - the reason this has happened is unimportant - it will become important again when he is fully engaged back with his feelings, but until then, he doesn't need to worry about hwy it happened, just that is has.
This is not uncommon, it is not pathological, and does not indicate any mental illness - for now, think of it as a simple disconnect for which there is an easy solution - he just needs to start really paying attention to his feelings. We usually start by simply focusing on identifying feelings.
With a good therapist, he could fully resolve the unconscious disconnect within 6 weeks and be able to identify all of his feelings in every situation.
I hope this helps. Please feel free to email back with any other questions or comments.
Yes, I can continue this conversation - if not Sunday during the day - Sunday night or Monday.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Unfortunately, since JustAnswer is a question/answer site, I cannot work with him - but any Doctoral level therapist who practices Cognitive-Behavioral therapy should be able to make some headway in this time frame.
My only other suggestion is to now ask your son to do the work - if he is going to see someone, he needs to find them. If he is going to really take ownership of this issue and deal with it - he needs to be the one - fully engaged in seeking treatment :-)
I am sorry I can't do more.
I wish you the best of luck!
You are very welcome!
You can try this link: http://findatherapist.com/results.php?State=NY
Or you can pick up your local Yellow Page Phone Book and call people - most will chat on the phone with you for a few minutes, and if you like them you can set up an appointment.
Good questions to ask include where they went to school, what their training is, what their theoretical orientation is (you want to hear cognitive-behavioral, and you don't want to hear Jungian, Psychoanalytic, REBT). Ask about their fees and how they accept payment (credit cards, checks, cash), and if you don't like them on the phone, assume you won't like them in person :-)