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Flipping a commitment-phobe isn't rocket science

Jenna Birch is a health and lifestyle writer, lipstick enthusiast, aspiring yogi and diehard Wolverine based near Ann Arbor, MI. For more information, visit jennabirch.com or follow her on twitter @jennabirch.

George Clooney is now the marrying kind, and I'm confused

All my life I've heard the relationship maxim, "You can’t change a man." And yet, notorious womanizer and commitment-phobe George Clooney is apparently... a changed man.

After Clooney did everything short of crossing his heart and pinky promising us he'd never marry again, he and fiancée Amal Alamuddin just got their marriage license and intend to wed in London. Soon.

So. I guess I'll ask the question everyone else must be thinking. What the %$ is going on here?!

I had theories galore, but no firm answers, so I decided to consult one of my favorite dating and relationship experts to sort out the mental confusion. First up, dating expert Neely Steinberg, author of Skin in the Game: Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur to Find Love. I asked her if there was any way a woman could "flip" a phobic man. Her answer? A straight-up, solid "no."

"If you set out to flip a commitment-phobe, dating and love become a game — and attempting to win someone over and get someone's love is an immature, childish motive," she says. "Many women think, If I can just get him to love me and want to be with me then that will finally validate my worth and value. That's usually a losing proposition. A woman has to look inwards for validation first, believing in her own worth, lovability and value."

In the case of Clooney's lady love, Steinberg doesn't think she actively set out to poach him. She was just real, held to her standards and wasn't suffocating. "Amal Alamuddin probably wasn't anyone other than her authentic self for George Clooney, and that's what made him want to be with her," Steinberg says. "To ascribe all sorts of tactics and techniques in terms of trying to get him isn't the way to go."

Huh. Amal did not use tactics to nab Clooney? Interesting.

But I did want the male perspective, too, so I contacted my go-to guy: relationship expert Charles J. Orlando, author of The Problem with Women... is Men. I knew he'd have profound insights, and could explain the key to the sudden change in Clooney's cold, cold, marriage-averse heart.

"They get to it when they get to it," Orlando says simply. "Clooney is a great example. He swore he'd never get married... but here we are. And why? Because he wants to. Pure and simple."

I took a moment to process what I'd learned, and, whoa.

Amal Alamuddin is likely not a magician or some sort of master commitment-phobe wrangler. And Clooney likely hasn't had some crazy life epiphany that's made him a totally different dude. Whether you're trying to understand why a commitment-phobe insists he won't marry (and then suddenly does), or whether you're trying to understand how to turn yourself into a commitment-phobe's One True Love, it really is so simple.

A commitment-phobe will marry if and when he wants to.

You shouldn't do anything to flip a commitment-phobe other than be yourself. If that even counts as "doing something."

Sometimes, we complicate love and relationships, don't we? And I guess if I've learned one thing over the years, it's that you shouldn't. If being with a guy feels hard, or you're not getting what you want from the relationship, neither is the right one for you. Plain and simple.

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