Commitment Phobia: Can You Overcome It?

Commitment phobia is the fear of permanence, and usually applies specifically to romantic relationships.

Most articles on this topic are targeted at women, with advice about what to do if the man they were dating were commitment phobic. The short answer was usually “Run!”

None of the articles I found addressed those who have this condition, nor acknowledged that women can have it too, nor showed how to overcome it. I thought I’d fill this gap by sharing my inside perspective, having lived with commitment phobia for a long time.

What is commitment phobia

First of all, not everyone who is single has commitment phobia. There are many reasons why people remain single, including:

  • Choosing singlehood as a preferred way of life
  • Remaining faithful to a partner who is no longer around
  • Not being able to let go of an unrequited love
  • Having no time for a serious relationship

Commitment phobia is a specific condition which may include some or all of the following behaviours:

  • Wanting an intimate relationship while running from it
  • Becoming distant when the other person tries to get close
  • Turning on the charm when the other person pulls away
  • Sabotaging a relationship by deliberately hurting the other person

Recognising commitment phobia

As with other phobias, commitment phobia is an irrational fear that may be unconscious. If your various relationships didn’t work out each for a different reason, you may not have commitment phobia. You are however a likely candidate if you notice a trend or pattern in which you are the constant.

It took me years to notice a pattern in my relationships where I would get more scared the closer I got to someone. I’d start finding all sorts of reasons why the relationship wouldn’t work. When the relationship finally ended because of my unreasonable behaviour, I felt relieved and almost happy.

Understanding commitment phobia

When I started to understand why I was so afraid of commitment, I identified several separate yet related fears at play.

1. Fear of being trapped

This stems from thinking that decisions are permanent, and that there was no way out if things didn’t work out.

2. Fear of making a wrong choice

Being with the ‘right’ person is fine and dandy. The fear is of being trapped with the ‘wrong’ person.

3. Fear of unmet needs

The problem with a ‘wrong’ choice is that our own needs end up not being met, and this results in an unfulfilled life.

4. Fear of loss

Commitment entails forgoing alternative partners even if a more attractive option comes along later. The idea of loss is usually painful.

5. Fear of an imagined scenario

We might fear being abused or neglected. This usually arise from having witnessed abuse or neglect in our parents’ marriages.

Living with commitment phobia

Since a phobia is by definition an irrational fear, it is useless to tell a person to just get over the fear. Here are some thoughts that help me.

1. Overcoming the fear of being trapped

When divorce is a no-no, there seems no way out. We can recognise that while nobody gets married intending to divorce later, one in every two or three marriages today ends in divorce and it’s not the end of the world.

What you can do: When you start to feel trapped, mentally construct a back door that will be your escape route if necessary. Give yourself permission to divorce, or move back in with your parents. Just knowing that there is a way out helps.

2. Overcoming the fear of choosing the wrong one

Being raised on fairytales like Cinderella convinces little girls that their Prince Charming is out there. The reality is that no man is perfect (okay okay, no woman is either!) and that a relationship is a partnership that requires work.

What you can do: Accept that there will be friction even with the best of partners, and decide to work through problems when they arise instead of jumping to the false conclusion that you must have chosen the wrong person.

3. Overcoming the fear of unmet needs

This fear arises from the fallacy that somebody else can fulfil our needs. It also stems from giving too much while not asking for what we need. The truth is that the only person responsible for our happiness is ourselves and nobody else.

What you can do: When you feel unhappy, ask yourself what need is not being met, then find a way to meet that need on your own. If you miss companionship, ask a friend out to lunch. If you need physical touch, sign up for a massage.

4. Overcoming the fear of loss

This is the opportunity cost effect, where committing to be with one person denies you the chance to experience being with others. We keep wondering what we are missing out on.

What you can do: Understand that there is a loss either way. If you commit to a partner, you lose the chance to meet other people. If you don’t commit, you lose the chance to experience a loving relationship.

5. Overcoming the fear of an imagined scenario

Playing a scene over and over in our minds increases the energy we give to that picture, and increases the chances of manifesting it in reality. We must stop that image for replaying by substituting it with positive images.

What you can do: Decide what action you will take should the feared scenario actually happen eg call the police if your partner hits you. Then file this away for possible future use, and spend your energy now imagining the best.

Recovering from commitment phobia is a painful process

All the above is much easier said than done. I know this from experience. I often behave contrary to my own advice. This is partly why I write – to remind myself of the kind of person I want to be, and to help my dumb brain absorb this stuff.

Recovery can be a long and difficult road. While not cured yet, I realised that there are discernible steps on the way to recovery:

  1. Complete cluelessness that there is something wrong with me
  2. A history of relationships that were wonderful yet somehow imploded
  3. Recognition of a pattern in the break-up of those relationships
  4. Admission that perhaps I was the cause of the problems (ouch)
  5. Awareness of sabotaging behaviours after or while I’m acting them out
  6. … Perfect, absolute, everlasting happiness and bliss upon full recovery…
    Well I’m not at this step yet so this is pure speculation at this point πŸ™‚

Stepping out in faith

I almost deleted this post after writing it because my commitment phobia recently kicked in again and I’m feeling a little raw.

Then I thought that maybe some reader would forward this to someone they know who also has commitment phobia. And this unknown person will either be helped in overcoming it, or find solace in knowing that they are not alone.

So if you know this unknown person for whom this post has been kept alive, please pass it on before I change my mind and delete it!

Please share this:

96 replies on “Commitment Phobia: Can You Overcome It?”

I realized this year that I am a commitmentphobe when I read the book “He’s scared, She’s scared” I was able to recognize the pattern of my relationships going all the way back to high school. “Ugh” is right! I can recommend a later book by the same author to anyone who has this issue. “Getting to Commitment” Overcoming the 8 greatest obstacles to lasting connection (And finding the courage to love) by Steven Carter. It provides hope and direction for those looking to heal and grow past their commitment issues.

LOL…i just realized i’m a phobe! OMG yes this is super hard to overcome and mostly because guys really r super sensitive and while I don’t blame them for finally giving up, I wish there was just ONE guy intelligent and patient enough to put up with me… well a girl can dream.:) working on dealing with reality Miss T.

[…] The other side of resentment comes from unreasonable expectations. Everyone has an idea in mind of what the perfect lover will be like, and sometimes we get too caught up in that vision. Gandhi reminds us that, “Everyone is human.” A little compassion will get you further than judgement. Is he working a lot of overtime? Under a lot of stress? Not feeling well? Just seeing things from his perspective might encourage you to do more to make his life easier (and you can be sure this will be returned in kind). Oh yeah, and sometimes…impossible standards can be a symptom of commitment phobia. […]

Dear Maria,

I’m glad you found it useful. It was a bit scary putting so much of myself out there in public but it was a step in overcoming a phobia. Wishing you all the best going forward, one baby step at a time like I did πŸ™‚

daphne

I am so glad I came across your site and read your article. It’s nice to be able to see it from a CP’s perspective.
For the third time, the man whom I believe to be my soul mate came back to me after months. It ended roughly last time with no explanation. He explained to me that it wasn’t that he didn’t love me (back then), just that he gets scared and runs. He said he didn’t want to do that anymore. He asked me not to let him. So… things were going great for the normal 3-4 month time span that he normally is able to obtain and then due to his work schedule, softball, numerous miscommunications between us, I tell him that he really doesn’t have time right now for a relationship… it all went downhill from there.. long story short, about two weeks later he tells me he ‘just needs space’ and tells me to ‘just stop pushing’ him. He won’t explain to me what that means, nor will he talk to me. He says he has nothing to say to me ‘right now’. What? He is also mean and distant. I love him dearly, but I truly believe he is sabotoging this on purpose so I will walk away. Everyone is telling me to go NC with him, but I think that is childish. As someone who can relate to him.. do you have any suggestions? I don’t want to cause any more fear/insecurities.etc than he has already dealt with, however I need to love myself as well. I would love to truly help him like he asked me to, however I’m not sure that’s what he wants, if he even knows what it is he wants..
Thank you for taking the time to read this…

Hi Confused,

It’s really hard on the partner of someone with commitment phobia, largely because there’s nothing much you can do. It is up to the person with the phobia to desire and initiate change. Until then, you are best off loving and taking care of yourself, as you point out.

What I’ve learnt is that when a person needs space, continuing to crowd him is counter-productive and will make him back away even more. It’s obvious from your comment that when he has enough space, he will come back to you and this has happened three times already. The only thing you can control is whether you will let this pattern continue in your life, and whether there will be a fourth time.

Personally I think it will hurt you to make your decision on the assumption that he will change. See him for what he is, accept that this is the reality, and decide if this is what you want or can live with.

Sorry I can’t be of more help. My heart goes out to you.

daphne

This is me, this is me!!!
I am even scared of posting this post. I don’t do any media connections for the fear of being in my business too much. I have known for a long time that I have this phobia. I just didn’t know if most of this was just me. I am kind of relieved that I am not the only person with these issue & thoughts. I guess that makes me human. I truly want real love. I just feel that I haven’t found the right person yet. all my relationship has been with GREAT men. Never been with someone who wasn’t worthy of marriage. I find a problem and focus on that until I leave. Normally, it takes me two weeks to know if it’s real or not. I have always left men behind with broken hearts and that kills me deeply. Because of that I warn men before getting involved with them that I have this issue. But I think at this point they look at it as a challenge. In which makes me run faster. I have only had a handful of men I have called my boyfriend, just the word boyfriend sounds serious to me. I know I am a great women and loving mother of one child. I hear all the time from people β€œwhy aren’t you marriage yet”, so of course that makes me feel even worse about myself.
THANK YOU!
This phobia is real and hard to overcome.
ALWAYS LIBRA

Hello Libra,

Sometimes knowing we are not alone, and not completely abnormal, helps us to accept ourselves and thus overcome the things that hold us back from a full life. Your courage in posting here publicly is already a sign of change. I used to be terrified of being publicly known online too πŸ™‚

Thanks for sharing, and here’s wishing that you’ll soon call someone your boyfriend!
daphne

I am a man in exactly the same position as Mrs.Fox (number 82). We had a wonderful marriage for 1 year. Then my wife travelled and after 15 days suddenly told me to move on with my life. She has looked for a job (nothing special) at the other side of the world. Now she complains that I am disturbing her with phonecalls and messages…I have read all there is to read and I have tried all there is to try…to no avail. BUT: she realises she has a problem. Which doesn’t buy me anything.

Thank you so much for this post. After 8 years of running away, making up reasons to run, finding faults… every indication with the exception of worrying about abuse, is true of me. I have recognized the problem, me (ugh is right) and am ready to start down the road of hopefully committing.

My husband has commitment phobia..we have been married for a year and a half now..he asked me to marry him..then we got married and about six months later he started being cruel and trying to drive me away..admitting that he just can’t do long term relationships. He says that I am the perfect woman for anyone but that everytime it comes to doing day to day life with someone he can’t handle it. Well that time I stood my ground and told him he was out of luck, that I wasn’t letting him run away and that I was standing beside him no matter how many mean things he said to me to try to make me hate him. Well we have gone another wonderful 7 months since then and things have been better than ever. Now it’s the day after Christmas (which he just bought me this brand new laptop that I’m typing on for Christmas) and today out of the blue he tells me he doesn’t love me anymore…that I’m a perfect woman and that he doesn’t know how I put up with his crap. But that he doesn’t love me anymore and that after things got seriouse is when he stopped caring about me, yet his actions say different, and that he just can’t do serious relationships…he also says that I am his best friend and that we have alway had that amazing connection. Well this time as much as I love him I’m just not sure if I’m going to be able to stick through it again. He says he’s leaving me for my own good, but that he doesn’t want to divorce me. So in one way I want to tell him that I’m not letting him leave me for his own good…but then at the same time I don’t know if I can go through the same thing in another 7 months. I love him with all my heart..and I truly believe we are supposed to be together…but I just don’t know if I can keep riding this roller coaster. And I’m no so sure of his fidelity anymore.

Thank you for that πŸ™‚ I just realized I have commitment phobia yesterday and started reading about it. Not only are my parents divorced, but I also had a very hurtful relationship a few years ago. I just noticed that since then I’ve always kept one foot on the ground in relationships and the feelings I had towards a lot of guys. There always seems to be something wrong, and I felt that he wasn’t my “prince.” The article was definitely one of the helpful ones I read, and I’m going to start working on my fears. Thank you again.

Hi Christine,

Wow thanks for sharing so much here. Sometimes it helps just to know that we are not the only ones experiencing the issue. This was one of the hardest posts I’d written because it was so personal, yet the responses the post has generated, including yours, have been amazing. If you’ve read some of the other comments you’ll know that we are not alone, and that knowledge is comforting. I’m rooting for you as you go forth in your love life… wonderful things can and will happen if you’ll let life take its course. Thanks again for sharing the life story Christine!

Daphne,

This post almost completely related to me and my live life. I’m 23 and have been leaving boyfriends since I was 18. Every time around the year and a half mark I begin to feel trapped or change my feelings. I’ve labeled it in the past as being young and wanting to be single and experience life. I’ve always chosen good boyfriends (whether or not they’re actually compatible with me) and I always find a reason to leave them. I don’t have commitment issues with my job but I find that I don’t like routine. I don’t like having set days for events (like a weekly get together to watch a tv show) and I have been afraid of relationships becoming boring and routine. I finally met someone who I thought was going to change all of this. I realized that he allowed me to be myself when I was with him unlike others who I didn’t feel comfortable around. We had a great time and people could see how much fun we had together. We didn’t become exclusive for 10 months until he decided it was all or nothing. I would have remained inexclusive but I didn’t want to lose someone who was very special to me. I was excited about the exclusive relationship for a while and really enjoyed it. Eventually I told him I loved him which is extremely difficult for me. I wasn’t getting the feeling of an “old” relationship. And then something went wrong. I had plans to study abroad in Europe 7 months after we made it exclusive. I think I subconsciously talked myself out of being with him because I was going to Europe and “you should be single in europe.” right before I went to Europe I had had an abortion. It was a tough time for us when I got back a month later and things haven’t been the same. For a while I was depressed and angry and we decided it was all due to the abortion but Im better now and I’ve started to realize my phobia is coming back. I’ve been criticizing everything in my head and I can’t find what I thought was so special. Yet my heart is broken to think about leaving him. I constantly think about how in love I had been and how I never felt that way before and u want to feel it again. I feel like a stranger around him now when he once made me feel so comfortable. I want to save our relationship and I don’t know what to do anymore. He was the first guy I thought to myself “this is much more fun than meeting random men at a bar.” and I know I eventually want to be married with kids. For a short time I even secretly hoped he would ask me as if I couldn’t wait for it.

Sorry for the life story Daphne!
-Christine

I’m a female commitment phobe! Thanks for posting this! I’m glad I’m not the only woman out there with this problem.

Hi, thank you so much for writing this and giving us a chance to read it before you delete it. I definitely have commitment phobia and I’m 32 years old. I recently saw a pattern with all my past relationships and am glad I finally have an answer. I’m with the most loving guy ever and have always had great guys but I’ve also always found a reason to leave and when it was over I would cry for day or months wanting to go back. I’d start thinking of what could have been if I had just stuck it out. When I’m with a guy I don’t want him or rather am scared and do crazy things so he leaves me and when he does I want him back. But during the break up I feel so free, like some huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m so glad that I’m not alone but I really would like to work on this because I have kids and I really do want to settle down and give them a stable home. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Hi Mandy,

You’ve just described my own experience, and yes it’s nice to know that we’re not alone and not completely out of whack πŸ™‚ Still, it would be nice to get a grip on it and I hope that you manage to and your children have the home you want for them. Best wishes!

Thanks a lot for sharing this article.Please preserve this article and don’t delete it. Its going to be really helpful for people who are “Completely clueless” of what is the problem with them.
I’m 27 yr old single male. Right from my school, college days to until now,
I have been continuously rejecting relationships. I almost go up to the level of impressing them
and make them fall for me, and exactly when I get a hint that they have feelings for me, I either run away from them
or break up with them and felt almost happy for breaking up.

Now recently one of my best online friend(I never met her) for an year,proposed to be indirectly by giving a hint, and
Immediately I got panicked and shocked not knowing what to say or do, because I really wasnt sure whether i
have feelings for her, may be because she was 4yrs older than me or may be
i used it as a reason. I indirectly told her that I have other plans,
and still hasnt come out completely from my previous online break up with my ex-online-girl.

After that I never called her,and have blocked her number so that i dont get any calls.Its been 6 months of no
contact now.But after few weeks of beak up I started feelings of lots of GUILT,loneliness,sad,depression, fear eveything piled
up together.I was struggling to find why I have been doing things continuously.I read so many online articles
related to how to handle break ups, how to forget someone,how to overome guilt, how to implement no contact etc…And i called all
my friends,collegues and everyone I know and asked for suggestions to make sure that im doing the right thing.

Not until a week ago, I read few articles on commitment phobia and its symptoms.And this article has really
opened my eyes and made me feel better to know that there are so many people around having this.Self realization
is the first step in overcoming the fear and it took me this much time to identify that im commitment phobic.
When I actually realized it last week,In a way i felt happy for identifying my actual self (eventhough i felt
guilty for identifying very late).But only time and experiance teaches you a lot. And I appreciate you
for sharing your thoughts here.

Dear Ashok,

Thanks for sharing your experience here. Yes it takes times, sometimes many years and several relationships, to recognise a pattern and ask ourselves what’s happening. I’m glad you found the article helpful.

Dear Amanda,

Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear about the emotional roller coaster you must have been on. Whether you end up marrying him or not, I hope you will have a wonderful life and never lose hope that life and this world can be filled with joy and beauty if we decide to create this for ourselves. All the best!

Daphne

Thank you so much for this article. My boyfriend and I both love eachother so much, and we both suffer from commitment fears. He asked me to marry him, then began back tracking once we started planning the wedding. I was crushed, and he felt terrible, and didn’t understand why he was so afraid. This article is so powerful, because it gives the reader a clear idea of how to overcome these fears. Many advice articles seemed so hopeless. They made me fear that it had such a small chance of working. I really appreciate you taking the time to write this.

Hi Daphne

I’ve just found this site and it is so honest and thought provoking. My battle with commitment phobia has been a long one and still continues.

About 11 years ago I started to have panic attacks in relationships. It became so bad I got more and more desperate. After a long search, I found a pshycologist who diagnosed me with a kind of OCD – all to do with commitment phobia.

After 7 months of CBT, I learnt some strategies to deal with my phobia and stick with a wonderful man. I also read the book ‘he’s scared, she’s scared’, which helped a lot. I constantly fought panic attacks and episodes where my phobia and fear controlled me totally. Despite this, my husband and I have been together 9 years and married 4 years ago and now have a lovely son.

However, my phobia has returned stronger than ever. So much has happened, and the hard work I did a long time ago seems a distant memory. I feel like I am back in the first days of my phobia, going through all the sabotaging behaviours and convincing myself that I’m not the problem, but he is.

I really want my marriage to work, but it is so hard when you feel so miserable. Being in the throws of commitment phobia feels like eternal torture.

Ultimately, we can’t let the fear win.

If anyone has any advice on how to deal with commitment phobia in marriage, it would be great to hear.

Thanks again for creating this blog.

Catherine

Dear Catherine,

I’m so sorry that I’ve been too busy to reply to your comment till now.

It’s good to hear that you beat the phobia enough to get married with a son. I myself never married so I can’t help with any first-hand experience. Perhaps you can re-read that book “He’s Scared, She’s Scared”?

What I do recall from one of my golf lessons, where I struggled a long time to make a shot, is what my coach said to me after he forced me to stay in the sun and keep trying till I got it: “If you can do it once, you can do it a thousand times. You just have to know that you can do it.” I don’t know if this helps you, but I do think that if you’ve beat the phobia before, you of all the people in the world will be able to do it again.

My heart goes out to you. Thanks for sharing here and feel free to write anytime if you need a listening ear.

Daphne

My experience with commitment phobic ex-boyfriend.

1. He was always on the move and available for the new projects. He never wanted to be employed but be his own boss.
2. He always wanted to include me on his plan (his dad, mum, kids, sister, friends, colleagues) and got crossed when I didn’t join but he always had good reasons in not joining in mine.
3. He always wrote comments on my facebook wall, but, got annoyed when I did on his.
4. He had a string of failed relationships, all of which ended because his ex-girlfriends got too insecure and ‘boiled his bunnies’. He said he loved me almost every day and gave me flowers and chocolates. He said that I was his ‘dream come true’.
5. He wanted to have an exclusive relationship with me and talked about marriage all the time, but, was worried that I might take his money on divorce.
6. He never wanted to take photos of us together while on holiday. He hated when I picked up the bill in the restaurant or during the holiday.
7. He blamed me for everything which went wrong in the relationship and so abusive and unreasonable. But when I finally finished it (with tears), he played the victim in the failed relationship.
8. After the split, he carried on e-mailing and texting and turning up at my doorstep for about an year. As he was promising to change and wanting to be friend, I finally took it as an intention to reconcile, so proposed to meet up (and talk). He suddenly got hostile and aggressive and shouted at me on the phone that he had no intention of reconciliation and was already in a stable relationship with another woman and I should move on with my life.
9. One year after the split when we finally met, he turned up with a full of hostilities and blamed me (almost shouting) that I had a lot of emotional issues. He said he still wanted to keep in touch with me as a friend. I said NO.

It took me months of counselling and a dozen self-help books to work out what exactly went wrong in our relationship. Thank goodness I am not with him anymore.

After researching for the past 7 hours on the subject, I am thankful for coming across your story. I am a women who is coming to the conclusion that everything I have read in these last 7 hours is pointing me in the same direction, I am a commitment phoeb big time. Its almost impossible to find any advice on help, healing or even Women having it. So Please keep sharing. thank you xox

WOW!! At LAST—an article that addresses how to overcome these fears with the right thoughts—I feel like a huge light bulb has gone on for me. Thank you so very much!!!!

S,

It warms my heart to know that this post meant something to somebody. It wasn’t an easy post to write because my feelings were raw at the time. Thank you for letting me know that you found it useful. I wish you well in your life journey in this and other areas. All the very best!

Great post–except it helped my commitment phobia for sitting down and completing a book. Not all commitment phobics are so in romantic relationships!

Hi Evangeline,

Welcome, and thanks for your comment. Yes it’s true that commitment can be about many things and not just romantic relationships. Happy to hear that you’re sitting down to finish your book. All the best with publishing it soon!

I dated someone with this phoobia for 1 1/2 years and I loved her very deeply. I did not understand at the time maybe i could have eased her fears by word choices and such but I was young. Now because of that relationship I maybe a little Commitment Phobic. My ex suprised me the other day while I was with someone else at a play. I did not know what to say when she said hi under her breath not to offend my date. We broke up three years ago next month i have not contacted her since because she ended it . Seeing her brought back old memories and sort of screwd up my night. I emailed her something simple like (Hi)

Hi Clint,

Welcome, and thanks for sharing your experience. There’s no need to feel any guilt about what happened in the past. Everything happens for a reason, yes even break-ups. I too keep in touch with an ex I once loved a lot, and it’s also been about three years now. Instead of wishing for what “could have been” or telling myself “if only…” I’ve learnt to accept the experience for what it was – wonderful part of my life, and I know that more wonderful experiences await with other wonderful people. I hope you get to this point of acceptance too, and move on with peace of mind and heart.

thanks so much for this! you described me to the tee, with the exception of number 5. i’m so happy to give what i have a name. i’m married, but i realize now i’m still a commitment phobe. we basically eloped…and now i see that was the only way: quick, before i changed my mind…again. it’s just so nice to know i’m not the only one.

Danielle,

One of the reasons I wrote this post is for people like you, so that you know there is nothing wrong with this phobia, and that other people share it too. I used to think there was something wrong with me, until I realised this phobia is quite common among women too and not just men. Good to know that you went ahead and got married though. Action is the best way to overcome fear.

Thanks Daphne. I am a divorced but very young-looking 30 year old. Although many assume I am too young to be divorced, I still deal with my divorcee status from a failed marriage, the adultery of my now ex-husband and the humiliation of my family because of it (in my culture, though divorce is prevalent, it is seen as something more wrong with the wife).

I am currently in a relationship with a loving man who accepts me as much as he can. He would like to marry me eventually. I am terrified.

My reasons correspond with a couple of yours:

1. Mistrust of your own judgement. I had a hard time trusting my sense of others’ characters for a long time. I had to rely on friends’ advice and consultation which helped immensely.

2. Feeling like you’re settling. Is he willing to wait for you to be comfortable with things before he acts? Is he considerate, loving and compassionate? What could be more? We keep telling ourselves we want more but we often forget how little we are willing to give first.

3. Fear of the same outcome as the past. I am afraid I will revert to previous hurtful behaviors I recognized in my past relationships or that I will be betrayed and lied to as in the past.

4. Tendency to group men together. “Men are all…” Fill in the blank. We’ve all said it or at least thought it. Usually the following descriptions are not positive.

5. Hoping that “the perfect guy” will save you from yourself. Self-improvement starts with you, right? πŸ™‚

I deal with my phobia the same way I had to pick myself up after my seperation and divorce.

1. Remember how great you are and remind others with thoughtfulness and gratitude.

2. You don’t have to take credit for any of it. Humility and grace is something people notice as much as greed and pride. What you know about yourself and your strength is of far more value.

3. Remember that everyone has a bad day. Allow yourself and your partner to “blow off steam” or get angry every once in a while. Just be sure to let it just be that and not contribute to it (yes, that means stay quiet and listen).

4. Always remember the reasons why you love that person and tell them whenever you get a chance.

5. Appreciate even small changes. Whether you have made one or your partner, they should be acknowledged and celebrated at least in a small way.

We are all searching for what is right for us but we also have to search out our best woman and companion from within.

Thanks for sharing. I just wanted to reciprocate and share with you.

Sue,

Wow, this is the longest and most amazing comment I’ve had on this blog. Thank you so much for sharing that. I’m touched that you found it worth the time the pen down your thoughts.

I’ve read your comment twice already and am going to read it many times more, especially the last 5 points on what we can do to help ourselves and our partners. Thanks for sharing this wisdom from your personal experience. I am deeply humbled and grateful.

Daphne such a great post….I am not sure whether i am a commitment phobe or not (woman, 33 years old) I always thought that my ex is a commitment phobe, cant beleive he left me out of the blues…and he was already with someone else in a week, maybe he sensed that i am or might be a commitment phobe? who knows…i am still searchign for answers (and its been a while since we broke up!) of whether he is, or i am…i m always searching why he left me, always blaming myself etc. Can i speak with someone about this ? maybe write to you personally? thanks,
stella marina

Hi Stella,

Thanks for visiting and leaving such a personal and well-written comment. I completely understand the need to search for answers when a break up happens. Over time I’ve learnt to accept that sometimes there are no answers – things just happen and life just is, and the best thing is to accept, find peace, and move on.

You could send me an email using the contact page on this site. Better still, you could get advice from several life coaches if you send an email to another blog I run called Dear Life Coaches where you’ll get more than one person’s perspective on your situation, and some suggestions on what you could do. Look forward to hearing from you.

Hi Daphne,

I used to have committment phobia. I really thought at one time that there was no way I could be married. The concept of having to share the rest of my life in one place with one man just seemed to be too much. For me, the concept of being trapped just prevaded my mind. All the women I knew seemed trapped and I like to be free to do as I choose.

However, here I am happily married for the last 7 years to someone who was a committment phobe too. I think the fact that we both shared the same fear made it easier to deal with because we had the same mindset. I do still have some traces of it when it comes to my day job but I know why I have it and I am working through it. So as you can see, Daphne, you are not alone. I am happy that you did not delete the post! πŸ™‚

Nadia,

Thanks so much for sharing this. It gives me hope! I’ve always been happier on my own, yet at the same time want companionship. I know exactly your fear about having to spend the rest of my life with one person in one place doing the same things etc… when I could be enjoying myself doing exactly what I want, like now.

It’s doubly encouraging that your husband was a commitment phobe too. There’s hope all round then! Funnily enough I don’t have commitment issues with my job, friends, or volunteer work at all.

Thanks again for sharing, Nadia. It really helps!

Hi Leonie,

Welcome, and thanks for your comment! We share the belief that joy is an option. Your site exudes joy and energy, and I smile just being there. I’m glad you visited!

Hi Daphne,
What a great post! I ready every bit!
It was very well written and offered a lot of advice and understanding to individuals with committment phobia. What I also liked, is that it not only helps those who sufer from it, it gives insight to people who may have been or are affected by it.
πŸ™‚
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Hi Giovanna,

Actually I was thinking of you as I wrote this post. Not you specifically but the lady, I think you called her Emma, whom you wrote about who was unable to commit. That was the main reason I didn’t delete this post – I knew that there were people out there who have this phobia and may, perhaps, benefit from knowing they’re not alone.

Thanks, JD. I may add that complete cluelessness was not just a perfect phrase, it was a perfect phase in life… ignorance is bliss after all. πŸ˜‰

Hi Daphne ..thanks for your wishes .. we’re moving forward. I’ve just read the post and the comments and obviously am thinking somewhat clearer today ..

I’m very independent – always have been .. and probably wasn’t open to commitment earlier on and the right person didn’t come along .. or they did but were committed to or chose someone else .. it never really worried me – I just got on with it.

With the recent developments with my mother .. which has been an unfulfilling process with social services .. I’ve now been put in a box as self-contained! Perhaps I’ve learnt to accept things – once I’ve got through that part of life, and ‘said’ ok .. and if that won’t work or doesn’t happen .. well life continues today.

It’s an interesting thought process .. and something I’d probably find easier if I wasn’t enhancing two peoples’ lives .. my mother and my uncle – this takes quite a fair amount of energy. I do know where I want to go .. and so have a goal (big goal with lots of strands and future) .. this spurs me on and helps me through the process.

Thanks .. Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hey Hilary,

You do come across as a very independent woman – something we have in common. It’s easy to choose singlehood when we’re ‘self-contained’, whatever that means! πŸ™‚

My mum once said to me that while it’s nice to have me around, she worried about what would happen to me after they were gone. When my father was dying, that was the concern he expressed to my married sister, asking her to take care of me because she already had a husband to take care of her and I didn’t. Knowing this, I almost rushed out into the street to grab a man to marry before my dad died, so he would have peace of mind!

In any case, as long as you’re surrounded by friends, you won’t be alone. Thanks for sharing your life choice here. It helps others who have made the same choice to know that others understand.

I have a confession to make. I have dealt with commitment phobias previously and my findings are as what Liara has shared: it boils down to a fear of truly accepting myself. I knew that I wanted to find someone to settle down with for a long time but when I finally found my husband, I was unwilling to commit to working things out. I was fearful of losing my identity. I identified myself with a lot of the ego parts of me. My ego was me. I refused to be beholden to be always displaying the nicer parts of me. And hence, the rejection of some parts of myself. I also thought that I was incapable of receiving unconditional love.

Oh yes, I had a lot of issues, despite having dated a number of men and even in the early years of my marriage. It also didn’t help that I got to know of many cases of separation and divorce around me. It was only when I was able to “see” two distinct selves – the ego and my true self – that I really broke free. My first breakthrough also happened when I made myself face up to my fears and worked (and really worked) at inner healing. I managed to, because I stuck it out.

It is definitely possible to overcome commitment phobias. Looking into fear takes courage. I know that you will have the tenacity and strength to do it. Once you get past your fears, the choice is yours on whether to stay single or not and one made with every awareness and unconditional self-love.

Take care and good luck!

Evelyn,

Thanks much for this detailed sharing and advice. You’re right that part of the fear has to do with losing my identity and becoming a person I don’t want to be. Hmm… looks like I have a lot to learn about this area.

It’s interesting that you continued to live with issues even in the first few years of your marriage. You must have been brave to take the plunge even while the doubts lived on. I can learn from you in this regard.

I appreciate your encouragement, and have a good starting point to work on some issues I have. You’re advising me to go beyond talking with my ego, which is probably what I’ve done in this post, trying to rationalise with my ego. And look inwards instead to heal from the inside. Thanks for this very helpful and personal comment. I think you’ll hear from me on this very soon! πŸ™‚

Hi Daphne .. that’s an amazing post and I’m absolutely certain is helping lots of people – I am absolutely in agreement with everyone else that we’re glad you didn’t delete it .. it is so comprehensive in its thought process and will be a really good reference article to us all in the future ..

Thank you – Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hilary,

Thank you so much for your support. I do hope it helps somebody. It certainly helped me to write it, as a reminder and guide to myself. Good to see you, and hope all goes well on your end.

Daphne, you are doing a brilliant job with your posts. I can’t believe that you almost deleted this one. I’m glad you didn’t. You have offered a lot to your readers.

I don’t have a commitment phobia, but in the back of my mind I see how thinking about commitment can make a person feel trapped. As you said, nothing is final. I sense that when people “commit” to something, they stop being curious about what else is there. They forget about how to live in that commitment and allow it to evolve.

Davina,

I like what you said about living in a commitment and letting it evolve. That helps us to see that a commitment isn’t really ‘final’, just another step in the journey. Hmm… that’s an interesting view.

Thanks for your sweet comment about my posts. I guess it’s part of evolving as a blogger that we dare to bare more of ourselves over time. I appreciate you being here to offer encouragement.

Commitment is a fabulous topic. One perspective brings everything back to fear. As a person realizes and acknowledges fear exists inside, it becomes easier to deal with the commitment issue at the root of the problem. Another perspective suggests fear of commitment in relationships with others means fear of accepting parts of yourself. When you do not choose to love yourself as you are and commit to making dreams happen, then part of you is uncommitted or does not choose to believe in yourself. Fear of succeeding, fear of failing, fear in other forms, emerges again until it is dealt with. Great post!

Hi Liara,

Thanks for your comment. Your insight is very helpful. Besides fear, another perspective is not accepting parts of ourselves, and not committing to our own dreams. You made me sit up when I read your comment, and it’s given me something to think about each time the issue arises. Thank you for this.

I have seen all kinds. Many people who have decided to remain single because their parent divorced and left them disappointed and having scares of hurt and anguish.
They are afraid to commit because they are afraid of failing as a spouse or parent.

Then again, look around at the divorce rate. I have single guy friends that joke about wife#1-#2-#3 – sad but true.

Bottom line you have to ready for the “unknown future” of commitment and really be in love. it may be the case one just doesn’t know what they are looking for in a significant other. Only maturity and experience will cure that.

Hi Bunny,

There is nothing wrong with being single. In fact I can testify that it’s quite easy to be happy on my own. Lots of other people are also realising this, as divorce and unmarried rates climb. Yes, it’s a little sad that people joke about previous wives. Sometimes this is done in self-defence, as humour is a way of covering up deep hurts.

Thanks for pointing out the many scenarios. Wise comment indeed.

Daphne,

I am so glad you did not delete this post. πŸ™‚ It’s a well written and intelligent post and you have talked about stuff which people usually do not get to hear as far as commitment phobia is concerned.

I had this phobia too and had a hard time dealing with it. The process is usually subconscious and ones gotta dig deeper to look at at the beliefs underlying it.

I’m sure your post will be helpful to many in the same situation.

Sunny,

I’m encouraged to know that you had and overcame this phobia and am now happily married. You’re right that the process is subconscious and takes a lot of vigilance to identify and recognise each time it sneaks up.

Thanks for your kind words. Even now I’m still wondering if I should have posted it, though it really helps to have wonderful, kind people like you as cheerleaders.

Hi Jocelyn,

I don’t think it’s inability to love, though some people would say that ‘perfect love casts out fear’! It is a phobia just like other phobias – a factor in itself. Thanks for your comment.

Daphne,

I never had commitment phobia. I’ve had many friends/clients who have/had.

I don’t think all people are supposed to be married. It’s just one of many choices.

I also think the grass always looks greener on the other side.My daughter would give anything to be married and have children. Her same age married with children friends are jealous of her life style and freedom.

I think everyone has lessons and can grow no matter their status.

I wouldn’t recommend getting married to just have children either. It takes sperm/egg and a village not necessarily a couple!

I don’t think there is only one “right” one. That thought is very limiting. Expecially when one thinks there is 6 & 1/2 billion people in the world!

I think I’ve always had full time work committment!
Thanks for a great post it gives a married since 17 much insight.

Hi Tess,

Good to know that you people people with this phobia. Often we think we must be the problem until we realise that’s it more common than we realise and stop critiquing ourselves.

I agree that not all people are better off married. Many of my married friends envy my carefree lifestyle, and I have to say I like it a lot myself. This is a good thing in itself, yet provides little incentive to do anything about the phobia. It’s probably a lot worse for people who don’t like being single and still have this phobia that makes it hard to stay in a relationship.

Sometimes I think marrying young is a good thing, before you settle into a groove that you like so much that it’s hard to compromise on in order to co-exist with someone else. It’s nice to learn about different lifestyles from each other!

Hi Daphne!

I read somewhere that commitment can trigger feelings that are deeply embedded in the oldest, most primitive and hardest to get at part of the brain.

That is why our left brain has a difficult time rationing it as those feelings can feel so “core” and powerful and can up root things even though it may make no sense or logical context or be something we want to happen.

And those feelings being so “old” may no longer be valid anymore thus I see it as my job to “ease it out” of me in a way that doesn’t harm myself and others.

All I can do, when I am faced with this type of battle within, is to own it as mine, make sure others know that it isn’t about them and I like to tell D that I am working hard on a breakthrough!

You are definately not alone!

Hi Middle Way,

Thanks for sharing this. It gives me something to think about. I agree completely that there’s something rooted in us that causes us to act illogically. You have a nice way of dealing with it – letting people know it isn’t about them.

I would really like to know how to ‘ease it out’ in a gentle, harmless way. I think recognizing it and wanting to do something about it are good first steps. Beyond that it’s foreign territory and it will quite an adventure trying out ways to deal with this. Thanks for sharing this insight.

Hi Daphne,
First off, I’m happy that you’ve written this – and that you’ve been open about yourself. In your being open and honest – I feel a deeper connection both to your writing and to you.

Fear of commitment. I’m married, and to be honest – I’ve thought at times if I made the “right” choice. The simple truth though, is that no choice is completely perfect or without some problems. And I realize this today, and know that I am in the place I should be. And that I am in a marriage that has much meaning for me. A relationship that helps me to grow and become a better person.

I love how you’ve laid out your thoughts on what can be done to overcome some of these fears, Daphne.

And I also want to recognize that I write for much the same reason as you’ve mentioned above – to work on myself and get to where I want to be.

Daphne, I appreciate you very much for writing this, for your honesty, and for you always being you.

Hi Lance,

Your comment made me feel so much better about myself. You have a gift for supporting others and making them believe in themselves. I am more grateful than you know for this caring comment.

I’ve grown to believe that I’ll never get married to be happy. I can be and am quite happy on my own. If I do marry it will be either to have children, or to become a better person through ‘forced growth’! Thanks for sharing that growth does happen in a marriage.

Thanks so much for this very kind and affirming comment, and for sharing about your marriage and thoughts about it. That takes courage too, to speak openly about something so sacred. I deeply appreciate this, Lance.

Daphne, thank you for sharing this very personal part of you.

I am committed to a sweet man.

What a person thinks about, comes about. If it is with your finances (not having enough to pay the bills, then you will not have enough.) Your relationships, how you think about that relationship is the way that it will go. (Pushing people away or drawing them in.) Something that have always helped me to replace something that keeps replaying in my head is to replace it with a song. Make sure it is an uplifting song. If you are religious hymns work really well,but any uplifting song will work. Song also help take our fears away. They can change our mood in an instant. A song you can do inside your head, hum, or sing it out loud. Hope that this helps someone.
Dan and Deanna “Marketing Unscrambled”

Hi Dan and Deanna,

“What a person thinks about, comes about” kicked me in the shins! You’re so right and sometimes I forget to remember this. Knowing this works on an intellectual level is easy. Actually making it a habit in life is the challenge.

Great advice about listening to a song. I’ll go look for a song to sing in my head when I feel these fears arising. That may help!

Great post Daphne. I didn’t realize I have/had some of the symptoms. What helped me through the ordeal is to first recognize that there is a fear. It really helps to know what you’re up against once you’ve identified it.

Hi Terry,

It took me years to recognize the symptoms. My experience is the same as yours – the first step is to be aware of the fear and look it in the eye. Then we recognize it whenever it sneaks up on us. At least that puts control back in our hands – we are no longer reacting to an unknown force.

I’m on it! I’ve just put this book on my reading list and something tells me I’ll get round to it soon. Thanks Chris!

Hi Daphne — I appreciated the rawness of this post and felt my heart open when I read it. What comes up for me is that if we make rules about what relating with someone is “supposed” to look like — a common example would be “you’ve got to get married after 6 months of dating or something’s wrong with you,” or “if you’re above X age you’ve got to tie the knot ASAP,” damn right we’re going to feel afraid. The other option, I think, is recognizing that we always have a choice about which agreements we want to make with others, and that no other person or cultural rule can make that choice for us.

Hi Chris,

I’m touched that this post made your heart open. It’s scary to share so openly yet this brings growth in its way. Supportive, kind people like you make the process a lot easier.

Thanks for your reminder that trying to do what’s right for others may result in a step in the wrong direction for us. I think I needed to hear this: “recognizing that we always have a choice about which agreements we want to make with others, and that no other person or cultural rule can make that choice for us.” Thanks much for this wisdom.

My fear was (and sometimes still is) making the wrong choice. Though I have lived and learned from past mistakes in relationships, that fear creeps up at times. But I really have to have faith that I am making the right decision.

Hi Cara,

Thanks for sharing experience with the fear of making the wrong choice. I’m glad that you’re making the choice to have faith in your decision – having faith is surely a right choice!

In any relationship I found your point 3 ‘When you feel unhappy, ask yourself what need is not being met, then find a way to meet that need on your own’ does wonders. It put me firmly back in control of my own destiny. Please write about this issue because relationships are so important. Nobody should have to do without a loving committed relationship forever.

Hi Paisley,

You’re right that responsibility for meeting our own needs applies to relationships and life in general. Yes, our destinies are within our control, at least in some part. Thanks for this reminder and encouragement.

Hi Vered,

Funny how some problems get categorised as ‘male’ issues, and vice versa. Thanks very much for the Stumble!

I am really moved by this post. I definitely have some commitment issues, and I related so much to this post. I cannot believe how much of myself I saw here and it is so wonderful to be able to connect in that way with something that someone else has written.

I am looking forward to implementing the tips you’ve listed in my life. Thank you so much for posting this. It’s so helpful to me. Really, thanks.

http://positivelypresent.typepad.com

Hi Positively Present,

I’m so glad you identify with this. I once read that “we read to know we’re not alone” and that’s a good reason to read and write. I too feel better knowing that I’m not alone in this.

Do try the tips and let me know if they work! They work for me when remember, though often the raw fear takes over and I forget to think. All the best with your journey in this area.

Hey, Thanks for sharing what seems to be a really personal subject. I hope that your wish that this will make a difference in someone else’s life will be realised. Kim

Hi Kim,

Thanks for dropping by. I hope this post does some good too. It did me good to write it, and I hope it helps somebody to read it!

I’ve been married for almost 25 years, so I guess I got over whatever commitment phobia I had. πŸ™‚

I think one thing that helped me was to live with my future wife before we married. This was an incremental step to the full commitment of marriage.

Hi Roger,

Thanks for sharing your experience with living together before marriage. It’s nice to know that this works for some people. Congratulations for reaching your silver wedding anniversary soon… that’s quite a wonderful achievement!

This is a very well-written post! I’ve never suffered from commitment-phobia, but I have dated women who had it, big time. Thank you for sharing this, because it helps me see the things that I might have done, or said, differently, to ease those fears. I never took the time to break down “fear of commitment” into the smaller parts as you have done here, and that prevented me from understanding it properly.

Thank you for enlightening me!

Hi Jay,

Gosh, I feel for you having dated women with this phobia. Please know that they never meant to hurt you, and were just acting out of a kind of subconscious self-defence. It’s sweet of you to have thought of how you could have addressed those fears. Thanks for your comment from the ‘other side of the fence’!

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