Love and relationships are everywhere. From a young age, we’re taught that the power of love can overcome all and that one of the biggest contributors to happiness is finding your soulmate. But what they don’t tell you is that opening yourself up to another person can be scary. Sometimes the people around us don’t have our best interests at heart. If you’ve been burned before, fear of commitment is normal.
Fear of commitment isn’t always obvious.
It’s okay to be hesitant about relationships. There are loads of reasons people don’t want to start them. There’s no reason to feel bad about it, whether it’s because of a past romantic relationship or because you’ve only seen unhealthy ones.
Sometimes we can also be afraid of commitment without realizing it too. Unspoken anxiety can manifest without us understanding the cause. Even if we don’t have a word for what we’re feeling, that doesn’t mean our relationships aren’t affected.
What does fear of commitment look like?
Being afraid of commitment is a little more complicated than being afraid to commit to someone. The signs can look different in everyone and will usually depend on why you’re afraid of it.
Common signs that you may be afraid of commitment can be:
- You want to avoid “labels”
- You feel reluctant to make plans too far in advance, or you don’t like talking about the future
- You assume relationships will end before they’ve begun
- Most (or all) of your friendships are superficial
- You have a history of flings
- You feel like a relationship will mean missing out on certain experiences
- You keep everyone at arm’s length
- You act selfishly to sabotage relationships rather than ending them
- You don’t like opening up with others
- You’re overly critical of others as an excuse to push them away
- You don’t want to involve them in your life too much
People who fear commitment might notice one or all of these signs in their lives. One sign on its own may not affect much, but the more you notice, the more it will affect you and those around you. Not only are you pushing people away, but you could also be hurting them in the process, which is where the problem lies.
You’re forcing yourself to ruin relationships that can help you grow. Healthy relationships, romantic and otherwise, can help make you a better person. Ruining them by avoiding commitment causes pain to people who genuinely care for you and closes a lot of doors for you in the future.
Understand where fear of commitment comes from.
Most people aren’t afraid of commitment for no reason.
Some people are afraid of commitment because of the relationships around them. For example, if your parents went through a messy divorce, it’s easy to feel pessimistic about love and commitment. They’re supposed to be the example, but it won’t feel worth it if they make it look painful.
Others are afraid of commitment because they were betrayed by someone they trusted. If someone cheated on you or tricked you, it could be hard to trust someone else not to do the same. It can lead you to expect pain from future relationships, and no one wants to willingly subject themselves to that kind of pain.
Depending on your past experiences, it can also wear down your self-esteem and make it seem like you don’t deserve to have good and healthy relationships. If you don’t think you deserve them, then it makes trying to have them unappealing at best.
Whatever your reason is, it usually comes down to two things. Either you don’t think relationships are worth the trouble, or you don’t think you are. Neither of which is true, I promise.
Getting past fear of commitment
The most common way people express their fear of commitment is by keeping their relationships casual.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to keep things casual… at least for a while. You don’t need to go into every relationship with the intention of marrying them or making them your best friend. The problem is when you start missing out on relationships because you’re afraid to commit.
Regardless of your reason for being afraid to commit, being honest with yourself is the best place to start undoing that fear.
Sometimes, you can overcome fear of commitment by talking about it. Giving voice to your fears and getting reassurance can help make things easier and deepen your relationship. As long as you’re willing to actually try, you’re already taking a huge step in the right direction.
Open and honest communication will work wonders for most relationship problems, especially if you can communicate before things become an issue. Your partner- if you have one- will want to work with you to find the best solution for you both to work toward overcoming your fears.
Seek professional help.
If opening up on your own isn’t enough, it might be time to consider therapy. Individual or couples therapy can help you get an outside perspective and the thoughts of a trained professional tailored to your situation.
Some issues are outside your control, and it may take more than one or even a dozen conversations to solve. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Check out the American Psychological Association’s Locator tool for help finding the right therapist in your area. You’ll be able to find licensed psychologists in your area and what insurance they take, and whether they’re accepting new patients.
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