26 September 2012
Are you a commitment phobe?
by Fran Creffield
Do you struggle to get past the first couple of months with someone? Does the mention of exclusivity, meeting their family or moving in together send shivers down your spine? If so it could be that you are a commitment phobe – read on to find out more.
A commitment phobe is someone who struggles to make a commitment particularly in intimate relationships. It may seem to be totally irrational – you really love the person you are with; get on great; can see a future with them but as soon as you feel yourself being pulled in the direction of a lasting commitment something powerful holds you back and you start to feel:
Like you’ve got itchy feet – as if there are other possibilities just around the corner and if you tie yourself down to this one person you may miss out on a fantastic opportunity somewhere else. Other people and possibilities start to seem much more attractive.
Irritable – the very person that you loved so much last week becomes intensely irritating, specifically little things like the way they dress – their personal habits that used to seem cute and endearing now drive you crazy. Your mind is in a negative spin and before long everything becomes so irritating it is so painful that you feel that you have no choice but to leave.
Negative – in your head you start to trash everything about the relationship – they don’t really understand you; your tastes are too different; sex might be better with someone else – every part of you seems tuned into collecting evidence to prove that this relationship is no good for you (or your partner) and you would be better off on your own or with someone else. This can make you feel bad because your partner has no idea of the negativity that is going on in your head and strangely you feel like you don’t want to share it because that might mean the problems could be sorted out and you feel that you need to leave.
The basis of all of this is FEAR – fear of commitment. The good news is that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are with the wrong person and should break up with them – it would be far better to stay and face the fear. If you don’t work it out in this relationship it is just going to come up again in the next one.
The fear could come from many sources. Maybe you have issues from childhood as a result of parenting that was not stable or emotionally supportive. Perhaps you have been hurt in the past by someone who you committed to completely and they abused your trust or maybe you have feelings of low self worth and believe that if you get deeper into the relationship the person will see the ‘real you’ and won’t love you any more so you jump before you are pushed.
There are many reasons why someone becomes a commitment phobe and for those worst affected the fear of being tied down, even to a date, can make them feel claustrophobic and trapped.
Some of the most obvious signs that you are commitment phobe are:
- You sabotage good relationships for the smallest of reasons.
- As soon as you start thinking negatively about the relationship it seems to careen out of control and before you know it you have already left in your head.
- You hate to be tied down – you say yes to things but as soon as you are committed you try to find reasons not to do them.
- You are flaky about timekeeping and get defensive when you are challenged.
- You only ever have short term relationships that start off very intense and passionate but go cold overnight.
- You are very busy and often over-committed leaving little time for your relationship
- You feel lonely and desperately want to be with someone but don’t trust your own feelings because it all can turn so quickly.
- You often fall in love with people who are unattainable.
What to do
Like any other emotional problem that affects your relationships it can be very difficult to overcome on your own and in cases where this has happened repeatedly and become a pattern it is a good idea to seek professional help to find out what is going on.
If you decide to tackle it on your own some useful things to try are:
- When you start thinking negatively about the relationship each day write down 5 things you appreciate about your partner until the negativity passes.
- Talk about how you are feeling either with a close friend or family member
- Make small commitments and keep them – try to be 5 minutes early for dates, go away for weekends and don’t let yourself be rushed along too quickly.
- Tell your partner you have a fear of commitment but that you are willing to change, they are sure to understand and hopefully together you will be able to work it through.