How to deal with commitment issues

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It’s an all too common story in the dating world – two people meet, have a great connection, maybe share a kiss or two and before you know it they’re ‘seeing each other.’ Then as things start getting serious, one person starts becoming distant and pulls away, leaving the other hurt and confused.

Fear of commitment is a very real issue for many people. When someone is suffering from commitment issues the relationship may be going along brilliantly with no doubts at all until a point when they are faced with making a commitment (e.g. becoming exclusive or moving in together).

 What is commitment-phobia?

Someone with a genuine fear of commitment is known to have commitment-phobia or relationship anxiety, and they generally have a serious problem in staying in a relationship for the long-term. They may have felt blissfully happy with someone when everything was free and easy and they weren’t tied down, but as soon as they feel like they’re moving towards a committed relationship they start sabotaging it. Other people start to seem more attractive and before long all they can see are negatives in the relationship, and no positive aspects.

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What causes commitment issues?

The underlying causes are different for each person, but in most cases the person has experienced or witnessed relationship difficulties in the past. This could mean a history of failed relationships or experiencing complicated family dynamics while growing up. Whatever the cause, the reality for commitment-phobes is that they are scared of these past hurts occurring again, and find it difficult to trust that things will be different in their current relationship. Signs of commitment- phobia:

  • They have a habit of agreeing to arrangements but start to look for excuses almost immediately.
  • They are unreliable and often late.
  • They will end good relationships for the smallest of reasons.
  • When faced with commitment they withdraw emotionally and start finding faults.
  • They chase romantic partners who are unattainable.
  • They have short, intense and passionate relationships that burn out as quickly as they started.

Overcoming fear of commitment.  

Whether you’re dating someone with commitment-phobia or suffering from it yourself, in extreme cases it is best to seek professional help from a psychologist or relationship counsellor. Here are some key steps for overcoming commitment-phobia:

  • Face your fear of commitment and remember that life can be more rewarding when you take risks
  • Pinpoint what it is you’re really afraid of – are you scared of getting hurt again? Is it fear of rejection or perhaps fear of losing your freedom?
  • Let go of any past hurt, understand that your fear is irrational and can only control you for as long as you let it.
  • Date only when you’re happy with yourself and feel 100% ready, or you’ll only attract the wrong relationships.
  • Take your time dating someone and make sure you have shared values and aligned ambitions.
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 When dating someone with commitment issues.

Be patient and understanding, help them overcome their issues. Remind them that all relationships are made up of a series of small commitments and without even realising it they have already made lots. Encourage them not to over-think things or spend too much time worrying about what the future might hold. It is only when they have overcome their fear can you enjoy a happy, healthy relationship, so give them the time and space they need. It’s also important to remember not to forget of your own needs. And if your efforts are not being rewarded after a time period you’re comfortable with, honour yourself by stepping away and letting them heal on their own.

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