Do People Actually Want To Commit To Relationships Anymore?

Originally Published: 
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Dating is more complicated than ever right now: You can be Gatsbyed, breadcrumbed, and ghosted by your Tinder match... all in the same week. And even when a great first date gives you butterflies, knowing what to do next can be confusing AF. Luckily, in Elite Daily's series, We Need To Talk, our Dating editors break down the latest terms, trends, and issues affecting your life with their own hot takes to figure out how to navigate finding love in a world that changes faster than you can swipe left.

PSA: “Commitment” is not a dirty word. Whether the person you’re talking to is “sooooo busy with work” or “honestly not looking for anything serious right now,” it can feel like there’s an endless list of reasons no one wants to define the relationship, and an endless number of people who will lead you on, only to break your heart. Asking someone whether or not they want to commit to you can be more nerve-wracking than interviewing for your dream job and waiting on pregnancy test results combined, and it can make finding an exclusive relationship feel next to impossible. The good news? It’s not just you, and contrary to popular belief, casual hookup culture isn’t the only thing to blame.

Elite Daily’s Dating editors hashed out whether or not people actually want to commit, and came to a conclusion that might make your dating life a whole lot easier. (Spoiler: It’s simpler than you think.)

Elite Daily/Jenny Garbutt

Iman [4:45 p.m.]

guys, this year on NYE i was really gunning for my friend to hook up with this new guy who i think is really into her

but instead she hooked up with the same guy she’s been “casually hooking up with” for three years

Vero [4:45 p.m.]

is it really casual if it's been happening for three years…?

Iman [4:46 p.m.]

like… no?

they've been in this limbo for so long, and i know she's not enjoying it

two years ago, she tried to talk to him about it

and he said he “worked too much” to be in a relationship

but then he went on to date someone else who he ended up breaking up with

because he said he prefers to keep things casual

Vero [4:47 p.m.]

if he agreed to be exclusive with the other girl, it sounds like he just doesn’t wanna be exclusive with your friend

i mean, maybe that relationship confirmed for him that he has no time for relationships but

idk, sounds sus

IMO, you make it work for the person you want to make it work for

Hannah [4:48 p.m.]

i agree

my friend met this guy who told her he definitely didn't want a relationship at first

but then they started dating and

five years later, they're still together

Iman [4:48 p.m.]

omg <3

honestly, it's really easy to villainize the person who doesn’t want a relationship, but

i think when you realize they're coming from a very common place

you start to wonder why it feels like no one wants to commit

Vero [4:49 p.m.]

well, everyone’s different

i think it's easy to blame this lack of wanting commitment on casual dating culture

but situations like hannah’s friend’s prove that’s not really true

you can say you want to “keep it casual” all you want until you meet the person who makes you feel differently

urbazon/E+/Getty Images

Iman [4:50 p.m.]

OK i know this is super gendered and i'm sorry

but i feel like, based on the people i know, women are more likely to meet someone they really like, establish sexual chemistry, and then be like, "this person makes me happy, and i want to keep pursuing this"

and men are more likely to do the same but then say, "this person makes me happy, but what if i meet someone who is hotter and makes me happier? i don't want to feel tied down."

like, rarely have i met a woman who uses “keeping themselves available just in case” as an excuse to not be with someone she clearly likes

Hannah [4:51 p.m.]

our culture definitely places different expectations on different genders when it comes to dating

Vero [4:51 p.m.]

and then people use “i don't want a relationship" as a crutch when they’re too scared to be honest and say “i want to be single in case something better comes along”

or even just “i don’t like you enough to be your partner”

which sucks to hear but at least it’s honest??

Hannah [4:52 p.m.]

there’s nothing wrong with not wanting a relationship

but if you're not honest about why, then the other person comes away with the perception that dating culture is sh*tty and nobody wants relationships

not that you always owe people an explanation but...

if you've started to form a connection, i think the nice thing to do is be honest about why it’s not going to work for you

Iman [4:53 p.m.]

i think this feeling of no one wanting to commit boils down to two things:

1) gendered, sexist societal expectations and 2) a fear of vulnerability, especially from the person who does want a relationship, and especially if they’ve been hurt before

that fear is what keeps people from being honest with each other about their feelings and desires

bc the second you admit how interested you are, you can get shot down

Vero [4:54 p.m.]

one thing i learned while researching for my story about ambiguous relationship labels in college is that the median age of first marriage has been rising steadily for decades now

from 1947 to 1972, it was 20 years old for women and 22 years old for men

but since 1973, it’s gone up consistently every five to six years

(now it’s 27 for women and 29 for men)

people don’t really feel the need to "commit" so fast anymore, so they're waiting longer and thus, dating longer

but, biologically speaking

women who want to be mothers might still feel pressure to commit

even though medical science has certainly advanced to the point where women can have healthy pregnancies later in life, that pressure is still very much a thing

Hannah [4:55 p.m.]

which is part of why this can be so gendered

and then on top of that biological pressure, there are all these social and cultural factors

Iman [4:55 p.m.]

like how

women are taught that because of evolution, beauty is associated with youth and that they will be more desirable (and more fertile) when they’re younger, and that it'll be harder to couple up the older they get

but men can settle down whenever they want because there’s really no age associated with their ability to produce sperm, etc.

produce sperm was not rly what i wanted to say

but alas

i have said it

Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images

Hannah [4:56 p.m.]

sperm quality declines with age! it's a thing!

Iman [4:56 p.m.]

yes but

it's way less of a "your time clock is ticking!" thing for men

Vero [4:57 p.m.]

that's also not to say that women want relationships and men don't

it can very much be the other way around

there are several reasons women might also not want to commit

Iman [4:58 p.m.]

like fear of vulnerability, or heartbreak, or a terrible breakup that was so traumatic, you never want to go through it again

for people who know they don’t want to have kids, it’s probably less of a “biological” pressure and more of just a

“i’m not really interested in this relationship right now”

and that’s OK

Hannah [4:58 p.m.]


they might just not be that strongly drawn to the other person

if i had to guess, most often, not committing is just someone or both people not feeling that strongly about the relationship

and being afraid to communicate that

Iman [4:59 p.m.]

yeah, in which case…

stop leading people on

Hannah [4:59 p.m.]

there are also times in your life where you might not be interested in prioritizing dating or a relationship

especially if you’re about to graduate, or it's summer break, or you just started an intense new job

or you're fresh off a breakup or having a fun hot girl summer

Iman [5:00 p.m.]

in which case, discuss expectations at the beginning

and then periodically check in

Hannah [5:00 p.m.]

but the problem with that

is that you need an enormously high level of self-awareness

to not only recognize what you want and communicate that

but also, to recognize that what you want could change depending on who you meet and how the relationship unfolds

Iman [5:01 p.m.]

i think the recognition of what you want being able to change is key

and being open to that change

Vero [5:01 p.m.]


and being brave enough to

~drum roll please…~

be honest and talk about it

Iman [5:02 p.m.]

oh nooooooo

she said it

Vero [5:03 p.m.]

The Golden Rule™

Hannah [5:03 p.m.]

and it’s also the opposite

if you've always wanted a relationship

and you meet someone you could maybe see yourself with

you owe it to yourself to still keep an open mind about other people

because maybe this isn't quite the right time in your life, the right connection, etc.

you don’t have to commit if it doesn’t feel fully right

Iman [5:04 p.m.]

go into every interaction knowing what you want, but also open to that changing

Vero [5:05 p.m.]

yes! you shouldn’t settle for someone who's giving you the attention you want if they aren't willing to give you the type of relationship you know you deserve

Hannah [5:05]


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