This may be one of the most common of relationship woes. Many of us have been in this situation.
I remember a time when I was totally head over heels for someone. I imagined, whether rightly or wrongly, that I connected to them, and they connected to me on a level that seemed beyond communication – almost instinctive.
But over time, when I imagined that connection to grow, the connection to become stronger…nothing happened. The relationship, whatever it was, seemed to stall.
The answer, when revealed, was simple: She was a commitment phobe.
Sometimes Love Could Go Wrong
Love, when it works, when two people just click, is something indescribable. But when something is wrong, love can cause significant grief and stress.
Commitment phobia has been the ending of a great many relationships. With a commitment phobic partner, you may start to doubt every aspect of your relationship with them, and perhaps even yourself.
To avoid it, commitment phobia needs to be understood.
About Commitment Phobia
Interestingly, if someone has a commitment phobia, this phobia may affect other areas of their life. They may find it stressful if they are faced with having to decide on things that will affect them long term.
As such, this may mean that their reluctance to commit to you romantically may not stem from them not being fully invested, but it may be a genuine mental health condition.
Why are People Having Commitment Phobic?
In psychology, there are four different kinds of attachment a person may have with another. The idea of this is called attachment theory.
Normally, attachment theory is used to describe attachments formed in childhood, but can be applied for adults in romantic relationships. There are three forms of attachment that may explain a commitment phobic person’s thoughts and actions:
- Fearful Avoidant. Someone with a fearful/avoidant romantic connection may actually want a strong lasting relationship; however, they may have fears about the future of the relationship. Fearing that they will be hurt in the future may make them wary of fully committing.
- Dismissive Avoidant. Someone with this connection may dismiss their want or need for a romantic relationship, and may see no reason to form a lasting relationship. Drop ’em fast.
- Anxious preoccupied. Here a person may want a relationship, but out of insecurity may doubt your commitment to it, and think you may soon regret it.
As such, the issue might be way more than them wanting to keep their options open (or even keep the relationship open.) There might be an underlining psychological grounding for their reluctance to commit.
Spotting a Commitment Phobic Person
How can you tell who is or is not a commitment phobe?
Luckily there are signs that the person you’re with is afraid of commitment. Here are some:
- They frequently quit jobs and leave careers. Though this could be a sign that they aren’t satisfied with their job, it may also suggest that they generally avoid committing to something.
- Similarly, it may be a red flag if you know that they have been in many brief relationships with no past commitment) shown.
- They may run far away from the mere suggestion of the “L” word, or even be uncomfortable defining the relationship at all. Doing so makes the relationship something more concrete in their minds. Not something easily left or broken.
- They have trouble committing to attending events until close to the time.
- They are generally unreliable, and unpredictable.
- They avoid introducing you to their family or close friends. This, in a sense, shows that they are keeping you in a separate compartment of their personal life – a compartment easily abandoned with no affect to the others.
If these sound familiar, then you should be wary. However, if you are indeed in a relationship with someone who refuses to commit, what are the best courses of action (aside from simply leaving them)?
You Want a Commitment Phobe to Change
If, of course, their reluctance to commit stems from psychological issues, then the best way for them to heal is with a degree of therapy. However, that is a tricky, time consuming process, and requires them to actively want to change their behavior; this would be a wonderful and positive step – however, it cannot be guaranteed.
So, What Should You Do?
Firstly, it could be a good idea to slowly start a hard to getapproach; make yourself slightly less available to them. This is a very risky strategy; if they are truly commitment phobic, then this could lead to them drifting away, thus ending the relationship. However, as much as it could encourage them to drift away, it also may encourage them to work harder. If they truly want the relationship work, they will have to work for it.
Always Put Yourself in the First Place
Always – this goes above all – put your own interests and needs first. A relationship is between two people; it’s natural for two people to think and feel different things. If they’re causing you undue stress through their fears of commitment (which may also show that they are putting their own interests first anyway), then perhaps it might be worth considering if they are worth this stress and anxiety.
If they are, then keep on, and hope love makes things develop.
If you are unsure, then maybe give them a time limit. If the period of uncertainty isn’t over by a certain time, for example a month, then perhaps it was not to be.
This realization can be hard in and of itself.
In the end, the issue is a complicated one. Matters of the heart always are. But love, when it works, is worth it. It’s just not always as you expect it.