You’re not supposed to be able to pause Elden Ring. This is fairly standard for modern FromSoftware games, and the developer has never really been able to give us any specific reason for the choice (other than ‘it makes the game harder’).
Maybe the option has been removed from the title because the developer doesn’t want players to cheese some of the tougher areas, or maybe it’s tied to the multiplayer side of things. Either way, we’ll reiterate, you’re not supposed to be able to pause Elden Ring.
But alas, where there’s a will, there’s a way. It turns out a specific button will pause the game and all the action around you – giving you a moment of stasis if you need to go answer the door, stop your pet chewing on your laundry, or whatever other real-life problems may prevent you from giving Elden Ring your full attention.