Commitment phobia is the fear of commitment. One of the most basic desires and needs of humanity is to be in relationship with others. But someone who is wrestling with commitment phobia will find it hard to connect with other people. This can affect everything from hanging out with friends to finding a romantic partner.It makes sense that commitment phobia often surfaces in romantic relationships because they are often the most serious. There is so much pressure put on finding the right person that it has created a huge industry including things like online dating, whole genres of literature and movies, and even holidays like Valentine’s Day.
The pressure to be in a relationship with friends and romantic partners is acutely felt by people with commitment phobia. Even though they, too, feel the basic human desire to be known and loved, the commitment phobic will struggle to open up and connect with people.
While most people will find themselves naturally in and out of friendships and relationships, the commitment phobic will find themselves watching from the sidelines wishing they had someone to hang out with or date but remaining paralyzed and unable to take any real steps toward solving the problem.
The symptoms can be as simple as not being willing to commit to hanging out with friends or as serious as being unwilling to move forward with the person you love.
It’s important to remember the commitment phobic wants to connect with others, but seemingly can’t despite their deep desire to do so. Their deep fear of commitment holds them back from achieving relational intimacy.
Everyone will have insecurities or concerns in friendships and with partners, but someone with commitment phobia will be frozen, unable to move forward because of their deep fear. If you resonate with this, don’t give into despair. While commitment phobia is a real thing, it isn’t the end of the story. You can move beyond your fears. Below are some tips to get you past your commitment phobia.
How to Overcome Commitment Phobia
Figure Out Why You Are Afraid
Fear isn’t random. It’s usually rooted in your memories and histories. If you’re older brother told you snakes come out of the bathroom drain after you saw a snake earlier that day, you might grow up being afraid of baths and bodies of water in general. It’s not rational – it’s history.
The examples can be more serious than snakes and bath tubs. For example, if as a child you experienced the divorce of your parents or abandonment, then you may grow up with some fears about people leaving you.
This is natural because as a child, you experienced a change that rocked the very foundation of your world. The loss of a care-giver can result in serious repercussions throughout your life. If you have commitment issues, you may need to consider your childhood and past.
Were you abandoned? Did you experience the divorce of your parents? Were you ever in a relationship where someone threatened to leave again and again? Were you rejected by friends in school? These are all experiences that can result in deep anxieties and fears about opening up to other people.
If you struggle to find or identify any potentially significant factors leading to your commitment phobia, then it may be helpful to meet with a professional counselor.
Counselors are specifically trained to hear your story and help you identify how and why you see the world the way you do. It won’t necessarily be fun or easy to look back on your life, but it can be the key to your freedom.
Don’t Lie to Yourself
Sometimes if you’ve been alone long enough, you can start to convince yourself you don’t need people. Maybe you watch romantic comedies and scoff at the protagonists for being weak or needy. Or maybe you see everyone on social media hanging out and think, “I’m just a lone wolf. I don’t need anyone.”
These thoughts are natural and are attempts to cope with your desire to connect with others. Your mind is trying to convince you that you don’t need to connect with people because you aren’t connected with them and feel like you can’t.
One of the major first steps of overcoming commitment phobia is to be honest with yourself and admit that you want and need to be in relationship with other people. If you can’t admit that to yourself, then you will never be able to grow and open up to other people because you don’t think you need to.
Find Out Who You AreThis may seem unconnected, but it isn’t. If you are afraid to commit to things, then it may be because you don’t know what you want. It’s like going into an ice cream shop and being asked what flavor you want.
If you don’t know what flavor you like, then you might be paralyzed unable to order. This silly example is an analogy of what it is like to go through life and not know what your passions are, who you want to be friends with, or what you want to accomplish.
If you aren’t confident about who you are or what you are doing, then you will naturally struggle to commit to things out of fear that it isn’t what you want. Unfortunately, not committing to things doesn’t help you to figure out what you actually want.
Instead, it will require you to take risks and make decisions about pursuing who you are and what you want. So one of the first steps to overcome commitment phobia is to actually figure out who you are and what you want.
Again, this can be difficult to do, especially on your own. You will need the help of trusted friends and family to help you as you process who you are. A professional counselor can also be pivotal in helping you process your desires, passion, and personality.
If you struggle with commitment, even small decisions can be overwhelming. Deciding where you want to go out to eat can stop you in your tracks. When you feel this way, it can be disheartening because if you can’t decide between pizza and Mexican food, how will you ever be able to commit to bigger things, like a relationship or a job.
But don’t let yourself go there. Start by making small decisions. Set a timer for a minute and force yourself to decide what movie you want to watch. Something like this might seem silly but decision-making is like exercising a muscle.
The more you practice it, the stronger it becomes. Starting small is starting, nonetheless. If you start making small decisions and committing to them, soon enough, you will find yourself being able to make bigger and more meaningful decisions.
Release Yourself to Make the Wrong Decision
Often times, what paralyzes you is the fear of making a mistake. But this fear can be the very thing that holds you back because mistakes are normal and natural. Mistakes are how we learn. If you never let yourself make mistakes, you will never learn and never grow.
When you let yourself make mistakes and take risks, you will see when something goes wrong that it’s not the end of the world. There is a freedom in making mistakes – freedom from the fear of failure and freedom to grow.
Commitment phobia can really get in the way of your life. It isn’t a small thing and often is rooted in deep pain from your past. With that being said, it is possible to move beyond commitment phobia.
It will require taking risks, making decisions, and a willingness to make mistakes. If you want to be free from commitment phobia, then it will be very helpful to meet with a professional counselor. They will be able to help you find the source of your fear and develop a plan to help you move forward.
“Hold on,” courtesy of Neonbrand, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Alone,” courtesy of Stefan Spassov, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Time to think,” courtesy of Hean Prinsloo, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Empty,” courtesy of Mae Mu, unsplash.com, CC0 License