If you or someone you love is afraid of commitment, it’s worth getting to the root of the issue. Like with any phobia, overcoming it takes time and effort.
A mental health professional can help you identify and change negative perceptions of commitment and relationships. It’s also important to acknowledge progress when it happens.
1. Identify the Roots
Many people fear commitment because of bad relationship experiences. These may have been first-hand or witnessed, including things like a painful breakup that came without warning or an abusive partner.
Depending on the situation, it can be helpful to examine what has caused these fears by talking with a therapist trained in relationships or using a couple’s counseling app such as Relish. This can help you identify and address the root causes of your commitment phobia.
People who are scared of commitment often become clingy in relationships, which can be draining for their partners and cause them to feel suffocated. They also may have trouble setting personal boundaries, such as allowing their partner to call them at any time of the day or sending unsolicited pictures and videos (sexting). This can lead to unhealthy relationships that are often filled with drama.
2. Be Honest with Yourself and Your Partner
People with commitment phobia may have difficulty talking about the future. They might avoid discussing the possibility of a long-term relationship or give vague answers when asked about how they feel.
If you notice that your partner is avoiding open communication, consider having a talk with them. Explain that you are worried about the future of your relationship and ask them to be more honest with you.
Be sure to listen to their response carefully. If they say something that hurts you, ask yourself why they said it. It could be that they are afraid of being judged or getting hurt again. If they are truly committed to you, they should not be afraid to express their feelings. Be patient as they work through their fears.
3. Take Action
Fear of commitment is a normal human emotion that can have many causes. Some of them include: a disturbed childhood, odd family dynamics, and even past experiences in relationships that ended up hurting you.
People who have commitment anxiety often have trouble setting personal boundaries within their relationships. They may allow people to call them at all hours of the night, send unsolicited pictures and videos (sexting), or cross physical boundaries by asking for oral sex too soon or by pressing for things they’re uncomfortable with.
If you are dating someone who has commitment issues, remember that their hesitation or lack of interest doesn’t always mean they don’t care for you. It just means that they are trying to work through their own commitment phobia and get over their anxiety.
4. Make Time for Yourself
Depending on the root cause of your commitment phobia, you may need to address other areas of your life. Try to commit to things at work and follow through with friends and family, as well.
Keeping busy can also help you learn to focus on yourself and your own needs. Getting to know yourself and your worth is a key component to feeling comfortable in a relationship.
If you have fear of commitment because of past experiences, consider talking with a counselor or trusted friend about those events. It’s also important to note that the majority of people who have a fear of commitment never get married. Refusing to commit doesn’t protect you from anything in the long run. Relationships end whether you want them to or not.
5. Be Prepared
Overcoming a fear of commitment can be a tough journey for anyone. However, it is possible to get past this fear with the help of a qualified relationship coach and some dedicated time.
It’s normal to question your relationship from time to time, but if you’re constantly second-guessing your partner and avoiding long-term plans, this could be a sign of commitment issues. This can lead to emotional distress and hurt your partner.
People with fear of commitment often become clingy in their relationships, which can be very draining for the other person. They may call you at all hours, send unsolicited pictures or videos, initiate oral sex too early into the relationship, and cross physical boundaries. This can be incredibly unhealthy for both parties and needs to be addressed.