How To Overcome Your Fear of Commitment Issues

A young man trying to run away from a giant hand wearing a wedding ring

Key Points

  • Commitment issues stem from several causes, including poor past relationships and family drama.

  • Certain signs may help you determine if you are a commitment-phobe (gamophobe).

  • It's not easy, but you can overcome your fear of commitment with self-reflection and honesty.

There comes a time when people choose to settle down and lead a simple life. Many adults' ideal goals are marriage, children, and quiet suburban living. If you desire a lifelong partner to be by your side through thick and thin, you'll likely pursue dating with this aims in mind.

But those with commitment issues think of relationships differently. Though you may desire a loving, monogamous relationship with the partner of your dreams, you fear commitment. Serious commitment issues can negatively impact your life if you don’t learn to overcome them. They can inhibit you from forming real, lasting relationships, both platonic and romantic.

For most, happy life is filled with friends, family, and loved ones. But if you have commitment issues, maintaining healthy relationships is a struggle. Overcoming your commitment issues is the first step toward leading a happy, emotionally fulfilling life.

What Is Commitment Phobia?

Commitment phobia, or gamophobia, is the intense fear of long-term relationships or marriage. Fears are psychological and often irrational. Nonetheless, phobias can cause extreme distress. The thought of facing a phobia can lead to panic or anxiety attacks and can affect your mental health in the long run if not adequately managed.

It’s possible to have commitment issues without having a full-blown phobia. An actual phobia will cause the sufferer to experience physical anxiety symptoms, such as excessive sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath. But your commitment issues don’t need to be classified as a phobia to cause long-term adverse effects. Not dealing with your relationship anxiety can lead you down a path of loneliness and unfulfilling relationships.

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What Causes Commitment Issues?

Commitment issues or commitment phobia can stem from many causes. Often, commitment issues develop after negative experiences from a past relationship. People who experienced trauma with past partners, such as abusive relationships, infidelity, or an emotionally challenging breakup, might be more prone to commitment issues.

A commitment phobia can also surface from bad familial relationships. For example, a young child watching their parent’s marriage fall apart might take those experiences into adulthood. They may believe that because their parents' marriage was a disaster, their relationships will end similarly.

You may have a fear of commitment due to a fear of boredom. You might believe that a long-term relationship signals the end of freedom. You're afraid of feeling smothered or losing your independence. Commitment issues may have many causes, but the result is the same. Adults who suffer from commitment issues have difficulties with intimate relationships. Ultimately, you may feel unfulfilled in your personal life.

What Are the Signs of Commitment Issues?

Do you fearful of commitment? There are a few specific ways to tell if you might be a commitment-phobe.

Difficulty Making Plans in Advance

People with commitment issues may have difficulty making plans a few weeks or months in advance. Committing your time to a particular event in the future fills you with overwhelming anxiety. In this case, the anxiety comes from a fear of promising time and freedom to anyone — not just a potential partner or date. You view any commitment as something meant to stifle your free will. Such fear makes planning important events hard. You may even have a pattern of bailing on plans at the last minute. Eventually, this behavior results in losing invites, friends, and romantic partners.

No Close Friendships

Someone with commitment issues can have difficulty maintaining relationships. You may have many casual friends but very few close friendships. It’s not that you're unlikeable or don’t desire close friends. You just can’t commit enough to form a close bond.

An inability to open up and establish friendly intimacy is a turn-off for most people. This behavior can sometimes be confused with social anxiety, an anxiety disorder where sufferers fear social settings where they think they are being judged. People with commitment issues aren’t necessarily socially awkward or afraid of being around people: They’re afraid of committing their time, energy, or emotions to people who might hurt them or let them down.

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Attraction to Unattainable Romantic Interests

You may find yourself frequently attracted to people you can’t attain if you have commitment issues. The attraction may either be intentional or a subconscious effort to thwart a possible intimate relationship.

Pursuing unattainable or emotionally unavailable people allows someone with commitment issues a fallback plan. You can’t fully commit to someone who can’t commit to you. If you have commitment issues, you may pursue people who are married or in serious relationships. Or perhaps you continually choose partners who mistreat you, don’t have time for you, or aren’t the right fit for what you really want. This gives you an excuse to end these relationships and avoid commitment.

Avoidance of Serious Relationship Conversations

Serious conversations about commitment tend to scare people with commitment issues. You'll avoid using the language of commitment at all costs. You're not a great communicator when it comes to talking about relationship issues.

People with commitment issues rarely get to “the talk” with their romantic interest. They’ll do their best to delay any relationship conversation involving the future. When the conversation does happen, it typically signals the end of their relationship. They are too afraid to move forward, and so they end it.

How To Overcome Your Fear of Commitment Issues

Learning to overcome your fear of commitment isn't easy. Commitment issues are personal, and overcoming them forces you to delve deep inside yourself. You’ll need to deal with unwanted or repressed emotions that might make you uncomfortable. It may be useful to seek professional help from a licensed therapist or counselor. A therapist can help you get to the root of your commitment issues by asking the right questions to help you open up and be vulnerable.

Online therapy offers a more convenient way to deal with your intimacy issues. Individual or group online therapy can be done from the comfort of your home and is typically less expensive. However, whether you seek professional help or not, you must do the inner work independently. Consider the following tips for how to overcome your fear of commitment.

Stressed young woman asking psychologist for advice online at home

Get To the Root of Your Commitment Issues

The first step in overcoming commitment issues is getting to the root cause. Be honest with yourself and think back to your past experiences and relationships. Was there a particular event or relationship that formed your beliefs on marriage and intimacy? Was it a relationship of your own or did you witness an unhealthy relationship around you that made you fear commitment? Why do you believe that a committed relationship is so scary? What is it about a long-term relationship that turns you off?

Once you can answer these questions, you can challenge your long-held beliefs. Maybe you have commitment issues because you were in a bad relationship. You’re afraid of committing yourself to another person because you don’t want to repeat the same mistake. You’re afraid of getting hurt again, so you avoid serious relationships.

Unfortunately, getting hurt is a part of life. Learning what you don’t like in relationships helps you better learn what you do. Nevertheless, you'll never fully understand yourself or your preferences until you dare to be vulnerable with another person.

Make Room for Intimacy

You can only overcome your fear of commitment issues if you allow others into your life. Face your fears of intimacy and allow yourself to be more vulnerable with your friends, family, and romantic partners. Understand that it's okay to share your feelings and open up occasionally.

It’s natural to have some hesitation when it comes to trusting others. You should be careful with who you trust. But it’s hard to learn who's actually trustworthy unless you get to know people on a deeper level. You don’t need to be an open book, but you must be vulnerable enough with people to let them get to know you.

Make more time for the people in your life. Become a better friend and partner by sticking to plans, calling them more often, and telling them how you feel about them. Make room for intimacy, and you'll invite more intimate relationships.

Be Open About Your Commitment Fears

Overcoming your commitment issues may mean opening up about the issues in the first place. Building an intimate connection with someone is difficult unless you are transparent about your flaws. Whether you like it or not, your commitment issues are a part of you. Being honest about them is the first step to overcoming them.

Letting others know what you’re dealing with helps them understand you better and build a connection with you. They may be more willing to work with you once they realize you are moving through past trauma — especially if they also have trauma or issues they're actively working on overcoming.

Being honest about your commitment issues is especially important when pursuing romantic relationships. The more upfront you are about your issues, the less drama or heartbreak you'll encounter. Let others decide upfront if your commitment issues will be a problem for them. Either they'll want to help you work on them, or they won’t. If they do, they may be a keeper!

Two young men sitting on a bench outside and having a serious conversation

Find Someone Who Shares Your Values

The more commonality you share with someone, the easier it is to open up to them. Sharing your deepest feelings, insecurities, or personal beliefs is a scary experience for everyone. But it’s even scarier when you share them with the wrong person. Most people are afraid of rejection or being misunderstood. But when you find more people like you, being open about how you feel is much easier. Overcoming commitment issues doesn't mean you should ultimately let your guard down. Being selective with who you choose for your partner is good (as long as you’re not subconsciously being overly selective to avoid commitment).

Getting to know someone before you open up to them is wise. Building an intimate relationship is much easier once you find someone who shares your values and beliefs. You can relax knowing they're not judging or trying to use you. You’ll have open and honest conversations that allow them to get to know the real you. When overcoming commitment issues, have the right people around you. The wrong people will only reinforce your long-held fear of getting close to someone.

Be Around People in Healthy Relationships

It isn’t easy to understand why people would want to be in a committed relationship if you’ve never witnessed what a healthy relationship looks like. If you’re afraid of commitment because of witnessing or being in toxic relationships, understand that’s only what you’ve experienced.

But your experience is not the only truth. You may have had or witnessed bad luck, but that’s not the case for everyone. Healthy relationships do exist, and the people in them are happy. It is possible to be in a monogamous, committed partnership where both people benefit from having the other in their life.

Healthy relationships add to your happiness, and don’t take away from it. No relationship is perfect, but some people get pretty close. Expand your horizons and hang out with happily married or committed people. You’ll discover how wonderful meaningful relationships can be and how they can improve your life. You’ll start to see that commitment isn’t so scary after all.

Multi-ethnic foursome smiling and laughing outside while having coffee

Acknowledge That You Want a Relationship

Admit it: You want to be in a committed relationship. You wouldn’t be reading an article about overcoming your fear of commitment issues if you didn’t.

As much as you deny your desire for intimacy, you crave it. You want to be in love and share your life with someone. But you’re too afraid of getting hurt or messing it up to admit it. Acknowledging this desire is the first step. Once you come to grips with wanting to be in a fulfilling relationship, you can work towards making it a reality. You can be honest with yourself and those around you about what you want for your life.

You have work to do on yourself, but you’re trying. No one is perfect, and you won’t overcome your commitment issues in one day. But it will happen if you steadily overcome your fears and pursue true intimacy. Let the world know you are open and ready to find love. Amazing things start to happen when you open yourself up to new possibilities.

Love Yourself First

Learning to love yourself is a HUGE and complex challenge. Many people have unresolved trauma or insecurities that prevent them from achieving true happiness. Not loving yourself enough may be why you face relationship commitment issues. You may not feel worthy of another person’s love and affection. Therefore, you distance yourself from ever allowing yourself to find love and intimacy.

It’s also true that you will continue attracting the wrong people into your life until you learn to love yourself. Your past negative relationship experiences may hinder your judgment of people. Subconsciously, you may repeatedly attract the same type of wrong person into your life because you might believe you deserve a bad person.

You must believe you're worthy of being loved and desired to attract the right kind of person into your life. You learn to love yourself and understand that you deserve better. Self-love may be essential to overcoming commitment issues and finding a fulfilling relationship.

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You've Got This!

Commitment issues are challenging to overcome but not impossible. Not everyone needs or wants to be in a committed relationship, and that’s okay. You have your own timeline and grow at your own pace.

But you have work to do if you want to be in a healthy relationship and can’t seem to make it happen. Commitment issues keep you from experiencing life to the fullest, but you can overcome them. Once you admit you have a problem, you’re one step closer to solving it. You've got this!

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