5 steps to healing a fear of commitment
It is a real problem for many people. At one end of the spectrum you might have someone who is so afraid they won’t even go on a date. At the other there will be people who are in relationships but stuck and their reluctance to move forward is jeopardising it. Between the two extremes there’ll be many others who end perfectly good relationships because they are convinced that there’s something better around the corner. If you believe your fear of commitment is stopping you from having the life you want, try these simple steps to begin to overcome it.
1. Admit that you have a problem
Before anything can change you need to admit, and accept, that the way you are now is not acceptable and you want to change it. This is not always easy to do. Look back over your life and see if you can find examples of times when fear of commitment has held you back, in your work, friendships and intimate relationships.
Perhaps you were afraid of taking a promotion, learning a new skill that would require many hours of practice or taking a trip with your friends. Maybe you end perfectly good relationships because you are scared that once a partner sees the real you they will reject you. It’s important you understand what it is you’re afraid of before you can find out why.
2. Desire to change
Knowing that fear of commitment is a problem in your life is only useful if you have a sincere desire to change. This can be easier said than done. The fear might be so embedded that it’s quite painful to uncover the underlying reasons. You may not be able to do it on your own. Professional help from a relationship counsellor can be very useful in helping people understand the roots of their fears and develop new, and healthier, strategies.
3. Uncover the reasons why
Unconscious fears only lose their power to dictate our lives when they become conscious. If you’re trying to do this on your own a simple and effective way is to write about it. ‘I am afraid of commitment because ….’ Write whatever comes to mind without thinking about it too much.
What comes up may surprise you. It could be something like ‘I’m afraid of commitment because I don’t want to lose my freedom’ which may lead onto something like ‘I’m afraid because I saw how my parents argued when my dad wanted to do things on his own.’
Whatever the underlying reasons, once they are revealed you will be in a better position to do something about them.
4. Validate your feelings
One reason that fears get so deep is we try to pretend that they aren’t there or aren’t important. What we resist persists. It can be very empowering to acknowledge to your partner that even though you want to commit, you are afraid. This can deepen intimacy and allow the fears to be dispersed rather than repressed deeper where they can cause us to sabotage relationships without knowing why.
5. Make, and keep, small commitments
The best way to overcome any fear is to take small steps. For example, if you’ve been single for years maybe go on a date. It doesn’t have to be any more than that.
If you are in a relationship where you have been holding back, try initiating smaller commitments like booking a holiday or talking about future plans. The important thing is to take it at your own pace and when your fears arise, instead of reacting to the anxiety become willing to go into it and explore what steps you can take to change.
Fear of commitment is often related to the fear of losing freedom. Can you really be free while fear is ruling your life, even if you never commit to anything?
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