Here is how fear of commitment 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.
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 get too close. Suddenly you are terrified by the thought of your relationship becoming official.
You Convince Yourself That Ending The Relationship Was The Right Thing To Do
Completely unaware of your commitment issues, you come up with excuses for your newfound doubts by finding things that annoy you (“it’s absurd she likes cats more than dogs”)
The excuses 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 you find yourself single, alone… you wonder if you made the right decision, and, 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 choices are motivated by a fear of commitment. It is scary 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 not there, the energy is not flowing, 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 convinced 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 change, but until you expose the key players in the background, you will not know exactly what to change.
Until then you will wander around in circles, replicating the same mistakes. You will continue to be horrified by the idea of being in a long-term intimate relationship probably without knowing it.
Meanwhile, you will continue to come up with new excuses 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 and are not aware of the true motivations and the hidden patterns 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 what I am and if I had fear of commitment I would have changed that a long time ago.”
Nonetheless, that is exactly what I am saying. Why? Because I’ve been there. Because many of us have 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 rule your life.
So, when is the decision to break up a response to true incompatibility issues and when is it a response to your fear of commitment and intimacy?
Is it a one-time thing or a pattern?
If your life feels like a never-ending movie rerun rather than something that happened once when you were young and confused, 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 these behaviors is likely deep-seated anxiety. This is a negative pattern, one you would do well to uproot out of your system.
When you have commitment issues, your internal system labels any serious relationship 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 an intimate and 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 history. It might take you several attempts before you can reach the deep authentic truth below the surface of your fear of commitment.
Trust me, it will be worth the effort.
If you don’t take the time to learn to recognize those fear of commitment patterns that are holding you back, they will continue to run your life and “protect” you from doing the horrible thing of getting attached to someone else.
Think back to your childhood. Specifically, try to examine your parents’ relationship – was it full of love, intimacy, and closeness? Or did they compromise and stayed together out of convenience or a fear of making a significant change?
I Was Afraid to Commit and Then Lose 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 behavior patterns was being afraid of real intimacy.
I didn’t grow up in a “normal” family, with a role model to learn from or imitate. Somehow, deep down inside, I was afraid to get attached and then lose a person I cared so much about. I didn’t want to waste my life mourning such a loss.
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 fear of losing my own identity were the motivating forces in anything that was related to committed romantic relations in my life.
Everyone has their own history and baggage. You should examine yourself to discover what blocks you and prevents you from finding the One and sticking with the relationship.
There are many potential psychological reasons for fear of commitment, and 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 to encourage and help you to look at your inner child and the wounds of your childhood that induced the fear of commitment.
The causes of fear of commitment, intimacy, and closeness
Fear of Abandonment:
A strong relationship is a positive experience, one of enjoyment and serenity.
But strong 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.
This fear is a typical one for those who are afraid of commitment. 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.
Fear of Merging:
Those who have blurred personal boundaries often feel threatened by relationships and fear being swallowed by them. Intimacy inevitably leads to some loss of identity and control over one’s life.
When the relationship grows and reaches a certain level of commitment, people who suffer from fear of merging will feel an acute loss of identity and they will act to create conflict in the relationship in order to create a distance from their partner.
Fear of Exposure:
Commitment means emotional closeness – where both partners reveal internal truths, desires, and needs.
Those who suffer from low self-esteem usually tend to develop commitment problems because they are afraid of being exposed. They are scared that their partner will see them as they see themselves.
They are worried that their partner will discover what they are “really” worth – and leave them because of it.
Fear of Attack:
This type of fear is a throwback – where a person is afraid of being hurt, physically or emotionally, because of past experiences.
For example, an abused child will often interpret intimacy as violence. So, in order to avoid potential exposure to violence, such a person will avoid being in a committed relationship.
Fear of our own destructive impulses:
Negative childhood experiences and the frustration that a person developed as a response to these experience sometimes give rise to rage.
Specifically, these type of experiences means this rage is connected to intimacy. Sometimes, people are afraid that the rage they carry inside will be mapped onto their loved one, or that their partner will bring out their worst impulses. This anxiety leads to commitment avoidance in order to avoid “waking” the person’s “bad” side.
How to get over a fear of commitment
First of all, it is important to realize that fear of commitment and intimacy 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 fear of commitment is rarely limited to personal relationships.
The first step is to admit you feel this 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 fears and 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 in a relationship, to build trust and to 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 fear of commitment ambivalence.
On the one hand, you have a deep desire to forge an intimate relationship with the right person. On the other, the residual fear 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 Ashley, but I am scared that in the future I will have to ask for permission to go out with my buddies”.
Quite often, these spontaneous musings will represent the real blockages you face. Once you’ve written everything down 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 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 special meditation, like the one I’ve created specifically to help you deal with fears of commitment and intimacy.
This recording will help you scatter the fog hanging over your internal paradigm and help you to recognize it.
Then, as you consistently expose yourself to the healing affirmations and frequencies, and as time passes, you will be able to replace this negative wiring with new positive perceptions that will enable you to build a healthy, warm, and loving long-term relationship.
Building a strong, unified sense of self:
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 intimacy 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 an intimate 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 relationship 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, a fear of saying “no”, or an inexplicable desire to please others.
Learn to develop a strong and stable identity, form your own authentic “you”, learn to recognize your values, and practice maintaining appropriate boundaries with your work colleagues and your friends first.
Learn to hold fast when you need to, and to express your opinions on matters that are important to you.
To sum up
Fear of commitment can give rise to tremendous internal anxieties. This unbearable internal tension might cause you so much real suffering that you might feel you have no option but to terminate the relationship.
Now that you have a general sense of the reasons you fear getting close to another person – to share your passion, your secrets, and your real “you” with them – you 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 an ongoing difficulty in these areas it is advisable that you find a professional therapist to help you explore these issues.
Such a treatment may help you clear up any emotional and energetic blocks and will open your hear to the great love that awaits you.