Fear of Commitment – The Phobia To Get Too Close
Here is a clear sign of how commitment phobia looks like in real life: You just met someone amazing, and it feels as if you’ve known each other forever. Both of you feel comfortable together. You don’t need to pretend, to wear a mask, or to make an effort to be entertaining.
Your communication simply flows, there are no embarrassing or awkward moments. The sex is amazing. You can’t believe that it is finally happening – you found someone who is right for you.
A month goes by… then another week or two… and that confident ‘This is It’ feeling you’ve had in the beginning starts to dissipate. Instead, you are filled with doubts and questions about your future together. Your good-ole fear of commitment starts to kick in.
You’ve already started to develop feelings towards this person who burst into your life like a storm. But deep down you are afraid to commit. Suddenly you are terrified by the thought of your dating phase becoming official.
The Fear of Commitment Convinces You That Ending The Relationship Was The Right Thing To Do
Completely unaware of your avoidant attachment style, you come up with excuses for your newfound doubts by pointing at things that annoy you (“it’s absurd she likes cats more than dogs”).
The fear of commitment bubble up inside you, so you decide to end things. You comfort yourself, thinking “we were not meant for each other. It would have ended sooner or later anyway.”
Once again, the commitment phobia rules your romantic life and you find yourself single and lonely again… you wonder if you made the right decision. After drinking three shots of whiskey in your bachelor studio apartment, you reach the conclusion that yes, you have made the right choice.
After all, it can be scary to admit that your motives and actions are rooted in fears. It sucks to admit the problem lies in you, and not them. You sigh in relief and convince yourself you have simply not yet found the ‘One’.
Look, I am not saying that couples should stay together at all costs. Most of the time the connection is simply lacking, or the physical attraction barely exists.
Let’s admit it – most dates are bound to fail. Not because true connection at all levels is hard to find, but because what you think you want and what you really want is very incompatible.
The answers are in your brain
The vast majority of psychologists are certain that the way you were raised shapes your personality as well as the subconscious paradigms that guide you. This approach has been backed by research over and over again.
This doesn’t mean you can’t overcome your complicated commitment issues. But until you expose the key players in the background, you will not know exactly the root cause of that specific phobia.
Until then you will wander around in circles, replicating the same fear of commitment habits. You will continue to be terrified by the idea of having a long-term relationship probably without knowing it.
Meanwhile, you will continue to come up with new reasons to break up, telling yourself “that was the only option”.
In other words, you think you know yourself. However, in reality, you live on autopilot. In other words, you are not aware of the true motivations and the hidden forces that drive you.
I bet you are sitting on your sofa, scratching your head, and stretching uncomfortably… Maybe you are a little annoyed by what I just said.
Maybe you are thinking “What?! How can you say it? I know exactly who I am and if I would have commitment fear, I would have changed that a long time ago.”
Nonetheless, that is exactly what I am saying. Why? Because I’ve been there. And frankly, because most of us are still there. “What is this ‘there’ you are talking about?” you ask.
‘There’ is that foggy land of the limiting beliefs that run your life.
So, when is the decision to break up a response to true incompatibility issues and when is it a response to your commitment phobia?
Is It a One-time Thing Or an Ongoing Commitment Phobia Loop?
If your life feels like a never-ending movie rerun, then it is likely that this a pattern that keeps repeating itself in your life.
It is important for you to understand that the source of the fear of commitment is likely deep-seated anxiety. This is a negative pattern, one you would do well to uproot out of your system.
When you have a commitment phobia, your internal system labels any serious love as a threat to be avoided at all costs. Yet, you crave forming a bond with someone else.
It then triggers all your warning systems to signal, loudly, that danger is up ahead – and that you should avoid it if at all possible.
So you look for any possible reason – regardless of how petty and foolish – to leave the relationship right away.
So what is it about a committed relationship that causes you to grow a pair of wings and fly away as quickly as you can?
What Does “Commitment” Mean To You?
Take some time to investigate the details of your personal commitment history. It might take you several attempts before you can reach the deep authentic truth below the surface.
Trust me, it will be worth the effort.
If you don’t take the time to learn to recognize that unhealthy commitment fear that is holding you back, it will continue to run your life and “protect” you from facing the “horrible” outcome of getting attached to someone else.
Think back to your childhood. Specifically, try to examine your parents’ model – was it full of love, affection, and closeness? Or did they compromise and stayed together out of convenience or simply fear of making a significant change?
My Fear of Commitment Stemmed From Losing That Person I love
For example, I grew up with a single mother. My father passed away before I was 2 years old. My mother raised us on the mantra that “love is all we need”.
But on the other hand, she mourned my father for many years and wasn’t open to the idea of finding new love. She was alone, without a partner, for most of my childhood and teenage years.
When I first began dating I found myself rejecting people for no good reason. As time went on I realized that one of my automated tendencies was to react with panic when a real commitment was an optional scenario.
I didn’t grow up in a “normal” family, with a role model to learn from or imitate. Somehow, deep down inside, I had feared getting attached and then lose a person I cared so much about. I didn’t want to waste my life mourning such a loss just like my mom did.
My brain was programmed to prevent me from becoming entangled in a real commitment towards another person.
This paradigm I adopted as a child, and which stayed with me for many, many years, went something like this: “You will lose the love of your life and then you will lose yourself.”
This fear of abandonment and losing my own identity were the propelling forces in anything that was related to romantic relations in my life.
Everyone has their own history and baggage. You should examine yourself to discover what fear prevents you from finding the one and commit to them.
There are many potential psychological reasons you might suffer from commitment phobia. Therefore, discovering your own reasons is a very personal process. If you are particularly self-aware it is possible that you will be able to figure out those reasons on your own.
However, it is more likely that you will need to get some professional help. Professional treatment can encourage and help you to look at your inner child and the wounds of your childhood trauma that induced fear of commitment.
The reasons you’re afraid to commit and get too close
A strong relationship is a positive experience, one of enjoyment and serenity.
But relationships can have a dark side – the threat that all this goodness will be lost, that the person who satisfies all those needs might abandon you and disappear. This can be an unbearable threat.
So, in order to avoid the potential pain of losing our partner, we simply distance ourselves from our partners before they can distance themselves from us.
On the other hand, it is also possible that those who are suffering from separation anxiety might actually cling to their partner in an obsessive, desperate attempt to prevent them from leaving.
Those who have blurred personal boundaries often feel threatened by relationships and fear being swallowed by them. Commitment inevitably leads to some loss of identity and control over one’s life.
When the bonding grows and reaches a certain level of commitment, people who suffer from merging fright will feel an acute loss of identity and a poor sense of self. They will indeliberately create conflict in order to distance themselves from their partner.
Commitment means emotional closeness and vulnerability – where both partners reveal internal truths, desires, and needs.
Those who suffer from low self-esteem usually tend to develop commitment phobia because they are afraid to be exposed. They are scared that their partner will see them as they see themselves.
They are afraid that their partner will discover what they are “really” worth – and leave them because of it.
Fear of Attack:
This type of reaction is a throwback – where a person is afraid of being hurt, physically, or emotionally, because of past experiences.
For example, an abused child might interpret physical touch or an attempt for bonding as violence. So, in order to avoid potential exposure to violence, such a person will avoid being in a relationship.
Worry about our own destructive impulses:
Negative childhood experiences and the frustration that a person developed as a response to these experiences sometimes give rise to rage.
Some people are worried that the rage they carry inside will be mapped onto their loved ones. Or that their partner will bring out their worst impulses. They’re afraid that the partnership will “wake” the person’s “bad” side, so they make sure to steer clear of commitment at all costs.
Effective Steps To Get Over Commitment Phobia
First of all, it is important to realize that commitment phobia is, at its base, a distortion of reality.
This distorted perception is based on false programming you adopted through no fault of your own.
It is a complex emotional state that affects every aspect of your life, like your commitment to work and finding a stable and well-defined framework for life. This type of fear is rarely limited to commitment and romantic interactions.
The first step is to acknowledge the fear. The second step is to want to change. Without a need and desire to change your situation, awareness alone will accomplish nothing.
Small Steps: Don’t rush to emotionally invest in a new relationship. Give yourself enough time to really get to know your partner before you get swept up in a whirlwind of feelings that will quickly unleash your hidden anxieties.
When you take self-regulated small but sure steps into a relationship you feel more in control, and any stress you feel, as the commitment rises, will not be as powerful as you might have felt before.
Learn to take it slow and build trust. Truly get to know both the good and not-so-good sides of your partner.
Be Mindful of Your Reality:
As I mentioned above, it is important that you recognize your ambivalence.
On the one hand, you have a deep desire to forge a loving relationship with the right person. On the other, the residual commitment phobia is hindering you from committing.
One potential solution is to take the time to write down everything that scares you about the relationship. Just write things down as they occur to you.
For example: “I am falling in love with Victoria, but I am scared that in the future I will have to ask for approval to go out with my buddies”.
Quite often, these spontaneous musings will represent the real subconscious blocks you face. Once you’ve written down your fears, you can drill down and ask yourself whether things are really as they seem in your imagination.
More often than not you will discover that these fears of commitment do not pass the smell test and that the insurmountable problems with your relationship are just in your mind.
Have An Honest Dialogue With Yourself:
When the fear of committing to a partner rears its ugly head, try to look at the whole picture.
Ask yourself what is really bothering you. Is it your partner and the things he or she does or is it about you and your blockages?
Your feelings are a reflection of your internal processes – do not ignore them. Treat them as signposts that lead you to the doorway into your own soul.
Use this internal dialogue to remind yourself that you carry ancient programming that belongs in the past and should no longer be a part of your life in the present. Tell yourself that this conditioning delays you and prevents you from building solid, healthy relationships.
As time goes by, and as you dive deeper into the relationship, this anxiety will slowly dissipate.
The stable relationship you develop will become your new reality – a reality that will become familiar. And when something becomes familiar it becomes far less of a threat.
One thing that can help you conduct a productive internal dialogue is to make use of my ‘get rid of commitment’ formula here.
Then, as you consistently expose yourself to the healing affirmations and frequencies, you will be able to replace the negative wiring with new positive perceptions that will enable you to attract healthy love.
Building a Strong And Unified “This Is Me” Mindset
Erik Erikson defined intimacy as the ability to forge close emotional connections. According to his doctrine, a prerequisite for the ability to develop intimacy is having a strong, unified self-identity.
True commitment with another person is not possible if a person has no sense of self, because such a person has no “self” to share with a potential partner.
Other famous psychologists are enthusiastic supporters of this approach and have added that the ability to form a connection depends on the ability to distinguish one’s self from one’s partner: a person with a high level of distinction can be part of a committed partnership without feeling swallowed by it.
Such a person is likely to feel that there is enough there to strengthen the relationship even while maintaining his or her individuality.
Therefore, it is a good idea to take on the process of building a strong self-identity. Especially if you tend to have blurred boundaries, a lack of assertiveness, or an inexplicable desire to please others.
Learn to cultivate a rock-solid personality. Form your own authentic “you”. Learn to recognize your values, and commit to yourself by maintaining appropriate boundaries with your work colleagues and your friends first.
Express your opinions on matters that are important to you and learn to hold fast when you need to.
To sum up
Commitment phobia can give rise to tremendous internal turbulences. This unbearable fear might cause you so much suffering that you might feel you have no option but to escape the relationship.
Now you have a general sense of the reasons you fear commitment and getting close to another person. The fear to share your wishes, your secrets, and your real “you” with them. Now can finally start on the road to healing, and find a way to release yourself from the chains of the past.
If you keep experiencing ongoing difficulty in these areas it is advisable that you find a professional therapist to help you explore this type of phobia.
Such a treatment may help you clear up any emotional and energetic commitment blocks and will open your heart to the great love that awaits you.