What To Do When He/She Won’t Commit?


Many mentees, readers and clients have asked me:

"I'm in a relationship with a terrific guy/gal but it's been 3 years (or 2, 4, 5 or more years) and he/she won't commit. I'm not getting any younger. Dr. Diana, what can I do?"


Well, I've helped so many people through the commitment process that my new relationship advice book, Sealing the Deal, is devoted to that very topic. This article is excerpted from Sealing the Deal and will help you move forward when your partner can't/won't COMMIT. I will share two powerful exercises that will build self-esteem and move your love life forward to commitment.

Perhaps you've met the One only to see him or her come on like crazy, and then pull back for no apparent reason. So all of a sudden, everything becomes murky and uncertain in terms of your relationship. Are you a couple or not? Has your partner met someone else? Why are they running hot and cold? Do you have a future together?

Should you have "the talk" about where things stand? Maybe you blurted out something about the future only to find your heart sinking as your Beloved pulls away and actually leaves you. And you wonder, Is it me? Is it my partner? Will I ever have a committed, solid and lasting relationship?

Maybe you are in a long term ON-AGAIN, OFF-AGAIN relationship where one or the other of you periodically withdraws or sees other people. Have you ever been involved and in love with someone for months, or even years, only to find that they simply cannot or will not take that next step into living together or marriage?

First, you should know that the average time for a couple to move from dating to a committed relationship, with a future that includes living together or getting married, is from nine months to four years. All this varies considerably from couple to couple. But, research shows that in the U.S. and England it's about three years. Usually, if things drag on in an uncommitted state much beyond a few years, the relationship will tend to go downhill and eventually die.

If you've been with your partner in an exclusive relationship for at least two or so years and he/she shows no signs of wanting to make it permanent by getting married, the first thing you have to do is to decide if you are really committed to having love in your life?  Are truly committed to yourself and your dream of a committed, married relationship?

My question to you is this: if you are not going to be there for yourself, who will be?

It's important that you develop your sense of SELF-WORTH if you expect your partner to really value you. In Sealing the Deal, I devote three entire chapters to not only building self-esteem but also setting the stage for commitment; how to have the talk so he will listen; and what to do if he/she won't commit. Throughout the book I share my own personal stories and those of others who built up their self-worth from NOTHING and then were able to form committed, lasting love relationships.

Get Started With Step One: Give The Following Sentences Five Different Endings:

  • I deserve a commitment because...
  • I deserve a commitment because...
  • I deserve a commitment because...
  • I deserve a commitment because...
  • I deserve a commitment because...

After you succeed at making a commitment to your own sense of DESERVEDNESS, you can then proceed to Exercise Two. BUT I WANT YOU TO FIRST DISCUSS THIS NEXT STEP WITH YOUR LOVE MENTOR—that is a knowledgeable coach, guide or therapist who is in a solid love relationship and familiar with your unique situation. (You can watch love mentoring in action as I work with Nadette in the’s 31-Day Love Life Makeover Challenge!)

IF YOU DON'T HAVE A MENTOR CONTACT ME. DO NOT DO THIS NEXT STEP WITHOUT PROPER GUIDANCE. Once you and your love mentor have agreed that the time is right PROCEED TO Step two.

Step Two

Sit your partner down and calmly telling him/her that you've decided to give yourself a happy loving relationship. Now safety is always your first concern. So assuming you're not in a violent or abusive situation, tell your partner that the two of you have to work on the relationship and that things have to change. Explain that you need to settle down and have a mature and lasting love relationship with one person. And, you would like that relationship to be with him/her, but if he/she can't step up to the plate, that is unfortunate.

In other words, you have to be willing to leave, to risk losing love in order to gain it. When you face loss, love blossoms. This is not always the case, but it's the best chance you have.

In order to show that you mean business, you may back away from your partner, refuse to sleep with your partner, or tell him/her you will be seeing other people. No angry or idle threats. Just real, solid moves in the direction of the impending breakup, until your partner shows signs of trying to work on his/her commitment problem, e.g., going into therapy, taking a growth course or, better yet, proposing to you.

Once again, this does not always work. But having this kind of heart to heart usually optimizes the chances that your relationship will make it. My relationship advice book, Sealing the Deal, offers many other specific techniques to help you navigate the rocky shores of GETTING TO A COMMITMENT.

If you find this step hard or impossible to do, remember to work with your Love Mentor. If you keep picking partners who won't choose you, you'll be alone for the rest of your life. Work on yourself and the rest will follow.

Diana Kirschner, Ph.D. is featured in’s 31-Day Love Life Makeover Challenge. Watch this dramatic 5 week/5 video reality series as Dr. Diana mentors 45-year old Nadette through a painful breakup.

Dr. Kirschner is a frequent guest psychologist on The Today Show & author of the highly acclaimed new book, “Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor’s Guide to Lasting Love” as well as the best-selling author of “Love in 90 Days.” Dr. Diana’s revolutionary work is the basis of her PBS Special on love. Connect with Dr. Diana through her FREE Relationship and Dating Advice Newsletter.