There comes a time in most of our lives when we need to settle down and lead a simple life. Marriage, children, and a quiet life in the suburbs is the ideal goal for most adults. We all desire a lifelong partner to be by our side through thick and thin. But those with commitment issues think of relationships differently. Though they may desire a loving, monogamous relationship with the partner of their dreams, they 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. A 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, also known as gamophobia, is the intense fear of long-term relationships or marriage. A phobia is characterized by having excessive fear of something relatively harmless. The fear is psychological and often irrational. Nonetheless, a phobia can cause a person extreme distress. The thought of facing their phobia can lead to panic or anxiety attacks and can affect their mental health in the long run if not properly dealt with. It’s possible to have commitment issues without having a full-blown phobia. A true 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 negative effects in your life. Not dealing with your relationship anxiety can lead you down a path of loneliness and unfulfilling relationships.
What Causes Commitment Issues?
Commitment issues or commitment phobia can have many causes. Often, commitment issues develop after negative experiences with a past relationship. People who experienced trauma with past partners, such as abusive relationships, infidelity, or a hard breakup, might be more prone to commitment issues. A commitment phobia can also surface from bad familial relationships. A young child watching their parent’s marriage fall apart, for example, might take those experiences with them into adulthood. They may believe that because their parents’ marriage was a disaster, their relationships will end similarly. Or a person may have a fear of commitment due to their fear of boredom. They might believe that a long-term relationship signals the end of freedom. They’re afraid of feeling smothered or losing their 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, they may feel unfulfilled in their personal life.
What Are the Signs of Commitment Issues?
Difficulty Making Plans in Advance
People with commitment issues may have difficulty making plans a few weeks or months in advance. Committing their time to a particular event in the future fills them with overwhelming anxiety. The anxiety may have nothing to do with a romantic interest. In this case, the anxiety comes from a fear of promising their time and freedom to anyone. They view any commitment as something meant to stifle their free will. Their fear makes planning important events hard for them. They may even have a pattern of bailing out last minute. Eventually, their behavior may cause them to lose invites, friends, and romantic partners.
No Close Friendships
Someone with commitment issues can have difficulty maintaining relationships. They may have many casual friends but very few close friendships. It’s not that they are unlikeable or don’t desire close friends. They can’t commit themselves enough to forming a closer bond. Their 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.
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. They can’t fully commit to a person who can’t commit to them. Someone with commitment issues may pursue people who are married or in serious relationships. Or they may continually choose partners who mistreat them, don’t have time for them, or aren’t the right fit for them. In doing so, they have an excuse to end the relationship and avoid commitment.
Avoidance of Serious Relationship Conversations
Serious conversations about commitment tend to scare people with commitment issues. They will avoid using the language of commitment at all costs. They’re not great communicators 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 problems, 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 family therapist. A therapist can help you get to the root of your commitment issues by asking the right questions. They will help you open up and be vulnerable.
Or, if you prefer, 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. But whether you seek professional help or not, you will need to do the inner work on your own. Below are some tips for how to overcome your fear of commitment issues.
Get To the Root of Your Commitment Issues
The first step in overcoming commitment issues is getting to the root cause. You must first discover what the reason behind your relationship anxiety is. 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 witnessing 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 past 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. But unfortunately, getting hurt is a part of life. We must go through some bad apples until we find the right person. Learning what we don’t like in relationships helps us to understand better what we do like. But you’ll never understand yourself or your preferences until you have the courage 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 is okay to share your feelings and open up once in a while. It’s natural to have some hesitation in trusting others. You should be careful with who you trust. But it’s hard to learn who is trustworthy unless you get to know people deeper. You don’t need to become an open book, but you need to 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 in your life, and you will invite more intimate relationships.
Be Open About Your Commitment Phobic Beliefs
Overcoming your commitment issues may mean opening up about them in the first place. Building an intimate connection with someone is difficult unless you are open about your flaws. We all have them. Whether you like it or not, your commitment issues are a part of you. But being honest about them is the first step to overcoming them. Letting others know what you’re dealing with helps them understand you better. They may be more willing to work with you once they realize you are working through past trauma. They may have trauma or issues that they are also actively working on overcoming. Being honest about your commitment issues is especially important when pursuing romantic relationships. The more honest you are upfront about your issues, the less drama or heartbreak you will encounter. Let others decide upfront if your commitment issues will be a problem for them. Either they will want to help you work on them, or they won’t. If they do, then they may be a keeper.
The more in common you have with someone, the easier it will be 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. We’re all afraid of rejection or being misunderstood. But when we find people who are more like us, being open about how we feel is much easier. Overcoming your commitment issues does not mean you should completely let your guard down. Being selective with who you choose for your partner is good (if you’re not subconsciously being overly selective to avoid commitment).
It’s smart to get to know someone before you open up to them completely. Once you find someone who shares your values and beliefs, building an intimate relationship will be much easier. You can relax knowing they are not judging or trying to fool you. You’ll have open and honest conversations that allow them to get to know the real you. When overcoming your 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 a Healthy Relationship
It’s difficult 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 in the past, but that’s not true 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.
Acknowledge That You Want a Relationship
Just admit it; you want to be in a committed relationship. You wouldn’t be reading an article about how to overcome your fear of commitment issues if you didn’t. As much as you deny your desire for intimacy, deep down, it’s what you crave. You want to be in love and share your life with one special person. You’re too afraid of getting hurt or messing it up to admit it. However, admitting is the first step. Once you admit that you want to be in a fulfilling relationship, you can work towards making it a reality. You can now 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 work towards overcoming your fears and pursuing 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 one of the most difficult challenges. Many of us have unresolved trauma or insecurities that prevent us 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 until we learn to love ourselves, we will continue to attract the wrong people into our lives. Your past negative relationship experiences may hinder your judgment of people. Subconsciously you may be attracting the same type of bad person into your life repeatedly. Because deep down, you might believe that a bad person is what you deserve. To attract the right kind of person into your life, you must believe that you are someone worthy of being loved and desired. You learn to love yourself and understand that you deserve better. Self-love may be the most important step toward overcoming commitment issues and finding a fulfilling relationship.
Commitment issues are difficult to overcome but not impossible. Not everyone needs or wants to be in a committed relationship, and that’s okay. We all have our timelines and grow at our own pace. But if you do want to be in a healthy relationship and can’t, you have work to do. Commitment issues can 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.