“Commitment” essentially means a pledge to follow through on something. In the context of this article I am using commitment in the sense of pledging yourself to another human being for the purpose of sharing a lifetime of romantic love. The “phobic” element is the intense fear and anxiety present in a person who struggles with such a commitment.
I see this very often in my practice. I believe this phobia is most present in those people in their late-20s, 30s and early 40s. To over simplify people younger and older are either too naïve or too needy to adequately do the necessary “due diligence” needed to assess the viability of a given relationship.
There are a variety of potential causes of being “commitment phobic”. Noted psychologist, John M. Grohol has listed these factors:
- FEAR OF, OR HAVING HAD, THE RELATIONSHIP END WITHOUT NOTICE OR SIGNS.
- FEAR OF NOT BEING IN THE “RIGHT” RELATIONSHIP.
- FEAR OF, OR HAVING BEEN IN AN UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP (CHARACTERIZED BY ABANDONMENT, INFIDELITY, ABUSE, ETC… ).
- TRUST ISSUES BECAUSE OF PAST HURTS BY THOSE CLOSE TO THE PERSON.
- CHILDHOOD TRAUMA OR ABUSE.
- UNMET CHILDHOOD NEEDS OR ATTACHMENT ISSUES.
- COMPLICATED FAMILY DYNAMICS WHILE GROWING UP.
Kelsey Borresen has added these descriptors of a commitment phobic:
- S/he may love you but is concerned that s/he will not be able to meet all your needs and expectations.
- S/he has fears of being stuck or feeling suffocated in a relationship.
- S/he has a tendency to gravitate toward people who are a poor match. I call it “bottom fishing”. S/he finds someone who can be a love partner but in fact does not bring much to the relationship. Thus it dies.
“Commitment Phobics” can be “cured,” but it is not easy. A trained MFT is usually needed and qualified to guide this process. By reading the above factors you can readily see the depth of the concern and its ramifications for a relationship.
Respected Reader, have you walked down that path previously in your life? Or perhaps you are in that state of being presently? Or, perhaps you are in a committed relationship, but not really fully “commited” to it? You are holding some parts of you back. Or, perhaps that describes your current partner.
To be emotionally vulnerable to another person in a committed relationship is not easy. Trust is basic here. However, if you can create a mutually committed intimate relationship, it doesn’t get any better than that!