Commitment phobia is rooted in fear — fear of lost options or fear of making poor decisions. Most especially, commitment phobia is the fear and avoidance of having to commit to anything, but especially relationships. And like the proverb, it’s a double edged sword: on the one hand you avoid obligations, ties, and commitments yet at the same time the commitment phobic may secretly crave the lives of those who committed and the growth that those roots produced.
Commitment phobics are the women who say, “All men are jerks,” or the men who claim, “Women are only out to get my money” – rationalisations to justify avoiding a committed relationship.
Men are generally considered more commitment-phobic than women, but recent research suggests that this might be a case of stereotyping, and that it is not necessarily a gender-specific thing.
However, most commitment phobic men and women truly yearn for a deep and intimate relationship leading toward marriage, but fright causes them to butcher every dating opportunity they may get. Sex outside of marriage, or promiscuous behaviour fosters a false sense of intimacy, which feels really good at the time, but is only a fabrication based on how we think we should feel when we are having sex. It is the substitution of “instant gratification” at the expense of deep, lasting satisfying soul-love.
In romantic relationships, the paradox is that the commitment phobic craves what he/she fears most: love and connection. When we speak of commitment phobia among singles, we are referring to folks who avoid committing to long term relationships such as marriage. Previous abusive relationships, intimacy issues or traumatic childhood experiences could be causes for this kind of commitment avoidance. Another possibility is that the child might have witnessed, or been a victim of, poor role models, or even abusive relationships during those formative years. Not surprisingly, this can (consciously or unconsciously) colour the way they feel and take part in relationships as an adult, too.
Statistics show that we are happier and more well-adjusted when we are in committed relationships. According to psychologists, the commitment phobes behave like this because they suffer from certain beliefs about relationships. Rather than being harmful, commitment-phobia is a healthy fear that will prevent you from jumping into new relationships before you are ready. At this point you may form temporary friendships and love relationships in order to “get your feet wet” again.
Rather than being harmful, commitment phobia may be seen as a healthy fear that will prevent you from jumping into new relationships before you are ready. Struggling against the fear of commitment often pays off because being able to share your life with someone you really care for can be wonderful.
Meanwhile, think on this: “Commitment phobia has its roots in the belief that when we love someone, we are responsible for their feelings rather than for our own.”
Whilst there are many therapies and even medications out there that may or may not be helpful, ultimately the answers lie, as always, in yourself. Knowing which buttons to press is not always obvious, however. To that end, you may like to look at my self help book “How To Love Again When Your Heart’s Been Broken.” See the resource box for details.