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3 Tips to Help Couples who Can't Commit

Fear of commitment is a common theme in movies, songs and love stories. It exists in both men and women, but is supported and actually excused with men. In fact, when I asked a group of friends which sex is more likely to have a fear of commitment they all said unanimously "men." More popular terms among men, but women suffer in silence with it as well. No one suffers fear of commitment as much as the person who is in love with a commitment-phobe.

When you are in love with someone who has a commitment phobia or deep seated fear, the relationship seems to have frequent stop and go moments. It’s as if you get very close and intimate and then all of a sudden, there is little contact and a fear of abandonment for the person who is free of fear. This stop and go pattern is actually allowing the phobia time to gain control and feel as though they are still their own person.

Fear of commitment doesn’t go away in marriage or with living together, but it can subside if both partners are willing to work on the reasons for the fear. If the partner of the commitment-phobe is willing to not take the fear personally and is able to allow their fearful friend to understand what is causing their fear, the couple can deepen their relationship and improve their communication.

To understand your fear, it’s important that you understand how it began. Since all children grow up differently, knowing where an individual’s fear of commitment began has many possibilities. Below are common occurrences that may cause fear of commitment.

  • A significant loss as a child

  • A childhood trauma

  • A parent’s separation or divorce

  • Poor role models

Commitment phobia is fueled by the way we think of things, especially more permanent things. Getting engaged, getting married, moving in with someone, getting a mortgage and even buying a pet. Whenever there is a feeling that things are progressing further and you’re falling deeper and deeper into the relationship, these relationships cause the fearful person to feel out of control, unsure of themselves and not convinced that they have the right person, pet, or home.

If you are in love with a commitment phobic, the best way to help them help you and the relationship is to help them identify which of these three fears most describe them.

  1. Is their fear of the commitment in and of itself? This will feel as though the relationship is all on your part. You have to initiate contact or it doesn’t happen. The fearful partner has difficulty making decisions of any kind and basically hates planning an actual date.

  2. Is their fear of commitment about committing to you as their partner? If you are in this type of relationship, it will feel as though you are not a priority, but rather a fall back. You will not feel loved or cherished.

  3. Is their fear of commitment about committing and trusting love? This group is different from the other two because the fearful ones can commit on other levels quite easily. They are clear about loving you. They value love and commitment, yet another part of them fears the very thing they want the most. They are loving, attentive, sensitive and kind and are usually less likely to cheat or have an affair because they value love so much. They are fearful of it and many times you can see on their face a look of a fearful child if they risk losing it.

Hanging on to someone in the hopes that they’ll someday commit builds resentment and contributes to one or both partners feeling unworthy. Successful relationship have strong boundaries. Respect yourself as well as your partner and if commitment is what you need to feel secure and happy but your partner isn’t ready then it may be time to seek professional help or end your relationship.


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