Commitment issues are widely known as fear of commitment, commitment phobia, or gamophobia (mostly used for fear of marriage).
Overall, commitment issues represent fears of commitment and dedication to relationships be they familial, romantic, or platonic.
How to know you’re dealing with them?
Such issues can also be manifested through a lack of trust, fear of abandonment, and disappointment.
People with commitment issues have a hard time settling into relationships, work, or making important life decisions.
If this sounds similar to your or your partner’s behavior, there’s a list of signs that are typical of people dealing with commitment phobia; Including but not limited to:
- Feeling anxious whenever you realize a relationship you’re in is getting serious.
- Labels such as boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner are something you prefer avoiding.
- Consciously or subconsciously tending to run away whenever you sense emotional intimacy with a partner.
- If sensing a relationship is headed to a long-term path, you consciously or subconsciously try to find flaws within the relationship or in your partner to sabotage the relationship.
- The idea of meeting your partner’s social circle – or having them meet yours – irritates you.
- You don’t like the idea of having responsibilities (in relationships, work, tasks, etc).
Fixing and overcoming commitment issues.
This is one of the typical examples of easier said than done. However, regardless of the difficulty, overcoming commitment phobia is a possible mission.
With a little hope, willingness to improve, and consistency, your healing journey begins the moment you notice yourself being aware of your issues.
Taking one step at a time, here are some methods that proved to be effective in fixing commitment issues:
1. Firstly, take your time to understand your fears and what’s causing them.
Relationship therapist Megan Fleming, Ph.D., suggests understanding the root of your commitment issues to fix the problem.
Commonly, there tends to be a behavioral pattern drawn due to your fear of commitment and commitment issues overall.
Noticing and understanding these patterns can help you comprehend, predict, and prevent the next unhealthy behavior.
If you’re dealing with these issues, you can notice the way you avoid the challenges that come from carrying the responsibilities of a relationship.
However, instead of judging yourself for it, you can start understanding that you’re doing this to protect yourself.
The need for protection is often a result of fear(s), be it fear of losing independence, being with the wrong person, getting hurt, not being loved back, reliving the past, or being abandoned.
Such fears commonly stem from traumatic experiences.
Traumatic experiences from childhood that lead to commitment issues can be:
- Toxic relationship between parents.
- Messy divorce of parents.
- One parent abandoned the child at a young age.
- Abusive household.
- Controlling parent/parents.
- Narcissistic parent.
Traumatic experiences from previous relationships that can turn into commitment issues include but are not limited to:
- Being cheated on.
- Hard breakup(s).
- Abusive relationships.
- Toxic relationships.
- Chaotic divorce.
- Narcissistic partner(s).
Unfold the issues and understand where they are coming from with an empathetic approach to yourself and your views on relationships.
2. Journaling can be a healthy practice to help you keep up with your healing journey.
This will be your fresh start in commitments.
Try as much as you can to be consistent and write about your current state whenever you feel comfortable.
Set a particular basis (e.g. weekly or daily) take one step at a time and start putting your thoughts and feelings on paper.
This will help you reflect on your thought patterns, see yourself from a different perspective, and understand yourself and your ways of coping in difficult times.
3. Maintain an empathetic approach to yourself.
The root of your commitment issues is likely to be hiding in your past: Traumatic events, relationships, and disappointments.
It’s not a path you chose.
Hating, blaming, or judging yourself for it will only hinder your healing.
Instead, teaming up with yourself and viewing yourself with empathy can greatly help you overcome and fix your commitment issues.
This way, you allow yourself to find where those traumas lie, team up with yourself, and start untangling them.
4. Relying on books and documentaries can help you have a better understanding of your situation.
Many books and documentaries on psychology elaborate on fears, commitment issues, and behavioral patterns.
Reading and hearing viewpoints from qualified people on the topic will make your journey a lot easier.
Such books and documentaries can act as blueprints or guides to help you navigate your issues, difficulties, questions, and behaviors.
Here are some suggestions:
- “Behave” book by Robert Sapolsky
- “Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator” book by Amy Gahram
- “Attached” book by Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller
5. Tell your partner and/or friends about the issues you’re dealing with.
Let your partner or friend, (wherever you find your support) know that you are dealing with something.
Allow them to know that you have acknowledged your issue, and have decided to fix it.
This way you allow them to team up with you and be supportive of your journey.
On the other hand, by letting them know of your fears and issues, you also provide them with a better understanding of you and your behaviors.
This way, if not supported you will at least be understood and viewed from a clearer perspective.
6. You can always ask for help.
It’s understandable that your commitment issues – part of which are also difficulties trusting people – can make this part a lot tougher for you.
If you haven’t built your support system (a number of people or activities that help you maintain healthier mental health), you can start taking steps:
- Have a friend you trust know about what you’re going through.
- Talk to a therapist.
- Join groups or communities – support groups – with people who are dealing with the same struggles as you.
Asking for help shows how brave you are. It is never, in any case, a sign of weakness.
7. Try therapy with a therapist you feel you can trust.
Deep-rooted traumas are best dealt with with the help of a professional.
Whether you’re more comfortable with online therapy or in-person therapy, the options are countless.
You must find a therapist with whom you feel safe and comfortable, and whom you feel you can trust.
A professional will undoubtedly be a great help for your journey, guiding you to properly navigate your journey and the struggles you might stumble upon along the way.
The link between commitment issues and attachment styles is based on psychology.
Attachment is an emotional bond created in your early years and is based on how your parents or caregivers took care of you as an infant, how you interacted with one another, and how your connection with them proceeded over the years.
It’s one of the factors that shape your adulthood, and your interactions and connections with other people.
Essentially, the way you react to a relationship has a lot to do with your attachment style.
So, what are attachment styles?
Attachment styles are divided into 4 groups:
- Secure attachment. People with secure attachments feel stable and safe in their close relationships. They’re confident, have emotional balance, and have healthy coping mechanisms.
They don’t usually experience any fear of commitment because they have a positive view of relationships.
- Avoidant-dismissive attachment. People with avoidant attachment try to avoid closeness and try to not rely on anyone. They are independent, distant, and discard of other’s feelings.
They fear that commitment is going to strip them of their independence and lose their sense of self.
- Anxious/ambivalent attachment. People with anxious attachment tend to be clingy and crave emotional connection. They are anxious about people not feeling the same about them, have low self-esteem, and need reassurance.
They often experience fear of abandonment, which turns into commitment issues.
- Disorganized/fearful-avoidant attachment. People with this attachment style endured a lot of trauma. They feel unsafe, and scared and think that they don’t deserve any type of connection. They have extreme mood swings, negative behavior, and feelings of unworthiness.
They often are torn between wanting to have a deep connection with someone and running away due to being scared of getting hurt. This causes them to have severe commitment issues.
You aren’t alone on this journey.
I hope this article has cleared out what commitment issues are, and given you a push to start dealing with them or help a loved one deal with their struggles.