How to diagnose commitment phobia


Dealing with a commitment phobe can be difficult and frustrating; like trying to catch a slippery fish between your hands, the harder you squeeze the more likely they are to get away.

For some people the difference between ‘just dating’ and ‘in a committed relationship’ is a huge and terrifying one. Whether you’re experiencing this feeling yourself, or seeing it in your potential partner, it’s important to know how to diagnose commitment phobia. Here are four things you need to know, whether you think you’re dealing with a commitment phobe, or you’re worried you might be one yourself.

Make sure it IS commitment phobia you’re dealing with
Commitment phobia has become a catch all word for describing someone who doesn’t want to settle down. However, be careful before you accuse your partner of being a commitment phobe; it could be you that’s moving too fast, and they’re just trying to apply the brakes a little. Put it this way, would you call someone who checks their parachute twice before jumping out of a plane as neurotic? Didn’t think so.

Don’t confuse it with ‘what next?’ syndrome
Some people go through relationships always wondering when the next milestone will arrive: dating, being committed, first holiday together, moving in together…and so on. The fact is that not everyone moves at that pace. Some people need a little more time to feel comfortable in a relationship before they’re ready to make more commitment. This doesn’t make them a commitment phobe, it just makes them cautious. And they may be onto something. Moving too fast in a relationship can ultimately derail it completely. If you’re worried your partner is a commitment phobe, first check that you’re not rushing things a little too much.

Is it a sign of a painful past?
If you genuinely think this person does have a problem with commitment, you’ll be tempted to start getting heavy handed, putting on pressure for them to commit to a relationship with you. Before you do, consider that they might still be nursing wounds from a previous relationship. In this case, exercise some compassion; a more softly, softly approach might help them work out their issues and save your relationship.

And finally, it can be exactly what it seems…
Sometimes you just have to call a spade ‘a spade’. Perceived commitment phobia could be ruled out by any of the reasons above, but sometimes it might just be your partner dragging his or her feet in a relationship, waiting to see if something else comes along. If you’ve realised this, unfortunately, it’s time to be honest with yourself and move on. The true commitment phobe can’t be changed and it’s not worth you wasting your time.

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