Commitmentphobia: Are you unconsciously afraid to commit?



Are you looking for love in all the wrong places? You could unconsciously be suffering from commitmentphobia. Here’s how to overcome it

Are you looking for love but keep ending up on dates that don’t go anywhere? Do you chase after the hard to get? You could be unconsciously suffering from commitmentphobia. And if you are, you’re not alone; in a recent study by the experts at eharmony, we found that one in four singles (25%) struggle to commit to lasting relationships.

Why do singles suffer from commitmentphobia?

There are many reasons why you might be struggling to make a long-lasting commitment. Disposable dating apps and swipe culture has made it easier than ever to meet new people, but endless choices aren’t always a good thing. How can you know that the person you’re with is right for you when you know there are so many other options out there? Nearly one in ten singles (7%) admit that the range of options available on casual dating apps makes it hard to commit to just one person.

People in relationships aren’t immune to commitmentphobia. In fact, 39% of people are afraid to commit because they’re not sure their partner is right for them. 15% of people in relationships admit that they often wonder if someone better might come along and one in ten can’t imagine only being with one person for the rest of their life.

Emma Kenny

Singles that have had negative experiences in previous relationships understandably are more hesitant to commit. 34% of singles suffer from commitmentphobia because they have been hurt in past relationships while 29% lack confidence in their ability to navigate a successful relationship.

Commitmentphobia can also be the result of having endured painful events in our upbringing. If we have grown up in a family where one parent was too enmeshed with us emotionally, we may crave more space and independence as a result. Equally, those of us carrying key childhood abandonment issues – such as a parent leaving or passing away – can find that we are unconsciously afraid of being abandoned all over again in later life.

How to combat commitmentphobia

Take your time

You should never feel pressured to make a commitment that you’re not ready for. Don’t be afraid to take your time when dating and really get to know the other person before putting any labels on your relationship. Just because your friends might be getting engaged or moving in with their partners, it doesn’t mean that you should be too. Work to your timetable and at a pace that feels right for you. And if you’ve recently ended a painful relationship, take time to build yourself up again and enjoy the single life before looking for love again.

Prioritise compatibility

It’s much easier to feel that someone is right for you if you know you’re compatible with them. Do you have similar values and personality traits? Are you looking for the same things from life and your relationship? Compatibility goes deeper than simply having the same interests. If you’re always chasing that spark and prioritising chemistry over everything else, you may find yourself drawn into passionate relationships with emotionally unavailable singles that aren’t looking for the same things as you. When you know yourself and what you’re really looking for, relationships become much easier.

Talk to someone

If your commitmentphobia stems from childhood experiences or issues that have been created by past relationships, talking to a professional could help. You may not even be aware of the reasons behind your fears until you start talking about them. Talking to a therapist – or even a close friend – can help you start to work on these underlying issues.

Emma Kenny is a TV psychologist, presenter, writer and expert commentator on subjects including the psychology behind love and relationships. She has a weekly page and offers ‘On the couch’ therapy sessions in Closer magazine every week. Emma Kenny is a qualified and highly experienced practitioner with Psychological and Counselling qualifications recognised by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and the British Psychological Society, and has been working for over 20 years in the field. She still runs sessions in person in her therapy clinic in Manchester and is a mother of two.

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