We are all familiar with commitment issues when it comes to romantic relationships. It is possible that you fear to commit or know/have been with someone who does.In the current generation, especially with the abundance of choices and options available, the fear of commitment has surfaced disproportionately when compared to previous generations. In those earlier times, options were limited.
What is commitment?
Commitment is a broad term but it boils down to devoting yourself to anything that is long term. It can be in various aspects of life such as work, a life decision, a cause, a new city or a relationship. But, most of the time, we hear the term ‘fear of commitment’ when we talk about romantic relationships. So, what exactly is fear of commitment?
Fear of Commitment
According to WebMD, the fear is about getting so close to someone or becoming so serious that you start thinking about a future together. This could involve moving in together or getting married. It is a big decision, and while some might make it effortlessly, people who experience issues with commitment might find themselves struggling to make this choice. They might be having the time of their lives with this person but still find themselves stalling the decision to make it long-term. They find it difficult to go through the different stages of a relationship because they fear commitment.
Such people often avoid using the word ‘love’, afraid of calling it for what it is or might be. They often use words like ‘probably’ or ‘maybe’ or any other word that speaks of uncertainty. They put it across quite subtly, more often than not, making it difficult for you to understand what’s going on in their mind. This brings me to the question at hand – what are the signs someone is afraid of commitment?
Signs someone is afraid of commitment
- They avoid serious relationships
- They avoid talking about making future plans with their partners
- They have doubts about continuing the relationship if they make statements such as “I am not sure if I am ready for this” or “I am not ready for what happens next”
- Poor communication is trapping the relationship.
- They find it difficult to express themselves despite being in the relationship for a long time
Why does this happen?
You might be wondering where this fear stems from. We know what happens but why does it happen? According to prominent research, a few reasons behind fear of commitment can be:
- A bad relationship experience in the past where things ended without any warning or notice. It’s only understandable that they would go to lengths to not get hurt the same way again.
- Attachment insecurities also play a huge role in developing this. We form our attachment style during our childhood years. The relationship we share with our caregiver is the base of all the other relationships we form later in life. As a child, feeling safe is crucial. However, when emotional and physical security is lacking, individuals tend to develop an avoidant or insecure attachment style.
- Childhood trauma can also be a contributing factor. An open wound, that the trauma is, can manifest in many forms and is often reflected in relationships. Even when you want to heal, a relationship can act as a trigger causing the trauma to keep getting deeper and unresolved.
- Low self-worth can make it challenging for a person to believe that someone can love them and wants to stay with them. They tend to push their partners or such people away because it’s almost impossible for their worldview to accept that someone would want to embrace their flaws and love them for who they are.
Knowing the reason behind a person’s behavioral attitudes paves the way towards more understanding and empathy and once it’s acknowledged and accepted, there are ways to change such patterns. As Carl Jung puts it, “We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”
What you can do about it
Once we acknowledge the reasons behind the pattern, the question becomes, what should we do now? How do we get through this? Well, the answer isn’t simple but a few things that can help in the process include:
- To have a constructive conversation about it. Talking about it with yourself, your partner, a friend or a support member can help sort things out. Talking to a mental health professional can also help in dealing with the commitment phobia.
- Practicing commitment in other areas of your life can also help. Observe how you feel and talk about it.
- Couples therapy might also help improve the dynamics of the relationship and help achieve a middle ground that works for both partners.
Dating someone who has a fear of commitment is difficult. However, a few steps that you can take as a partner to deal with the situation include:
- Acknowledging their efforts and sacrifices is what we psychologists call positive reinforcement. This will make it more probable that they won’t pull away, Respecting their boundaries and giving them time will help both you and your partner.
- Fear of commitment is very real and has consequences for both parties involved. However, this is not to say that everyone who avoids long-term relationships or marriage has this fear. Some might just have a different set of values and opinions when it comes to marriage, kids, monogamy, and more. This is also not to say that, if a person has commitment issues, then the relationship is done for and that there is no love present. As a partner, it’s important to realize that it’s not your responsibility to fix the problem or the person. You can help them in their healing process but you can’t walk the path for them.
- It’s always a good idea to assess if the relationship is fulfilling your needs and progressing in the way you want it to. If you are ready to take the next step but your partner isn’t, then you might want to consider staying in the relationship. As I said, a long-term relationship is not doomed because your partner is suffering from a fear of commitment. It might just take effort and time but deciding to work on themselves to fix the problem and the relationship is on them. It’s a choice they have to make.
Read more Related articles