Symptoms of Commitment Phobia
The symptoms of commitment phobia are wide and varied, and are only really limited by the imagination of the commitment phobic person themselves.
Some of the most typical symptoms of commitment phobia involve the commitment to relationships.
Where someone has a fear of committing to relationships, this may happen at the very start of the relationship (or even before), or may develop once the relationship is established
Commitment phobia symptoms often appear as a sudden feeling of uncertainty, and sometimes the feeling of being trapped in the relationship.
In this situation (where the commitment phobic feels the emotional feelings of fear and entrapment), it is often as the result of the partner in the relationship saying that they want to progress the relationship to the next level… “Let’s move in together”, “let’s get engaged”, “why don’t we try for a baby?”
As already mentioned, there are many, many different ways that commitment phobia can manifest itself, so when we talk about symptoms of commitment phobia, do bear in mind that these are only an indication of the most typical symptoms.
Dealing with commitment phobia
Put simply, commitment phobia is caused by the way we think about things... things like getting engaged or married, moving in together, getting a mortgage, buying a dog... all the sorts of life-steps that mean that things are progressing further, and you're falling deeper and deeper into the relationship. Read more
The Paul Douglass LifeShaping Programme can show you in six, simple steps, how and why your thinking can create or maintain something like commitment phobia, and how you can do some simple exercises that can help you to change the way you think and feel.
If you sign up for the LifeShaping programme to help you with your commitment phobia, use the code AM4B5A9 at the checkout to get a 20% discount, exclusive to us here at Anxiety Matters (limited time).
The person with commitment phobia may be extremely critical of their partner, the environment the relationship is in, or of the relationship itself.
Using criticism like this is an unconscious attempt by the person with the commitment phobia to deflect the ‘blame’ off of themselves onto their partner.
Taking this one stage further, the person with commitment phobia may end up hurting their partner’s feelings even when no ‘pressure’ is being put on them…
Often, this happens when there isn’t any ‘pressure’ on the commitment phobic… they are just attempting to keep the relationship ‘at arms length’, even if this means their partner getting hurt.
It can seem like the person with commitment phobia is attempting to sabotage the relationship, even if the relationship itself seems to be perfectly ok.
An example of this would be turning up consistently late for dates or regularly coming home late from work, without offering any reason.
Of course, sometimes commitment phobia can affect the person’s behavior even before they enter into a relationship…
Someone with commitment phobia may exhibit behavior very similar to that of someone with ‘social phobia’, and appear scared to be noticed.
This can mean that the person doesn’t go out much, avoids social situations, avoids eye contact, or simply appears ‘shy’.
The unconscious motivation behind this of course, is that if the person doesn’t meet many people, and then doesn’t ‘engage’ with the people that they do meet, then they are much less likely to fall into the dreaded ‘relationship’ scenario.
If approached, the person with commitment phobia will often just reject the advances of the other person, so that any potential relationship never really has much of a chance to get going in the first place.
They just protect themselves from others getting too close.
The ‘distancing themselves from others’ technique that we just mentioned however, sometimes isn’t enough on its own. It occasionally needs some help from other ‘reasons’ for the person with commitment phobia to avoid a particular situation.
For example, sometimes the person with commitment phobia will inadvertently find themselves getting closer and closer to someone they’ve met, without even really noticing it themselves.
Sometimes it’s only when the other person seems to want to progress the relationship to the next level that the person with commitment phobia feels the need to ‘escape’ from the situation.
This is where the commitment phobic person may need to employ other techniques of escape. One such method is the ‘unrealistic ideal’.
They may recognize all sorts of positive aspects in their potential partner, but will still find some standard that the person doesn’t match up to…
When friends and relatives tell the person with commitment phobia that they’re being “too picky” and that ‘Mr Right’ or ‘Miss Right’ doesn’t exist, the commitment phobic will insist that they do, and they’ll find them one day.
One of the most certain ways for the person with commitment phobia to keep a relationship ‘at arms length’ is to get into a ‘safe’ relationship.
One way to do this is for the person with commitment phobia to get into a relationship with someone who, for one reason or another is ‘unavailable’ to them in the long term.
One way of achieving this, is for the commitment phobic to enter into a relationship with a married person, or someone already in a long term relationship. This makes it very unlikely that the person with commitment phobia will then have to face the prospect of that relationship going any further.
In this situation, they are relying on the fact that it is unlikely that the other person will leave their partner to come to be with them on a permanent basis.
If that person does leave their partner of course, that leaves the commitment phobic with a new problem, which may cause them to resort to some of the other techniques talked about here.
Of course, the ‘unavailable partner’ can be unavailable for different reasons…
The 'long distance relationship' speaks for itself. The commitment phobic who lives in London and their boyfriend/girlfriend lives in Australia for example.
The commitment phobic unconsciously ‘knows’ that the chances of that person giving up everything to travel half way around the world to be with them is very remote.
Again, the person with commitment phobia is keeping the relationship at a nice distance.
There are of course, many other ways that the person with commitment phobia can form relationships with people who for one reason or another simply aren’t available to them for a full scale relationship. The ones we’ve mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg.
They may just form a relationship with someone they ‘know’ won’t be interested in them in the long term, such as…
For the commitment phobic person, forming a relationship with another person who also has commitment phobia (the commitment phobic partner) is a pretty safe bet. The chances of those two people getting together in the long term are quite remote… both partners unconsciously ‘know’ this, and actually, this situation can suit both commitment phobic’s.
As they both suffer from commitment phobia, this meets the needs of both people, at least in the short term.
Of course, everyone is different. One person suffering from commitment phobia might react to it in a completely different way to another commitment phobic.
Each person has their own commitment phobia ‘trigger’… the event or stage of relationship that triggers their ‘fear’.
Some commitment phobic’s do get into long term relationships, and after being in that relationship for a long time, it’s only then that the ‘trigger’ happens, and they feel ‘fear’.
At that stage, someone with commitment phobia might describe the feeling of being ‘trapped’ in the relationship, or in some way trapped or ‘pressured’ by the other person.
If this happens, the person with commitment phobia usually has to find a way to distance themselves from their partner.
In a long term relationship, this can, of course, cause a lot of hurt and upset to the partner of the person with commitment phobia.
This can happen when a commitment phobic is in a relationship, but suddenly feels trapped or pressured. Their response is often to ‘run away’…. So they might sabotage or end the relationship, even at the expense of their partner’s feelings.
Once they have ‘run away’ from the relationship, the commitment phobic often starts to feel ‘emptiness’. They start to realize that they did love their partner after all. This emptiness… missing the other person, can often cause them to go back to them.
Of course, once back in the relationship again, and after everything has ‘settled down’, the relationship quickly starts to head back towards their ‘trigger’ again.
Before you know it, the commitment phobic is off again. Then they’re back…. Then they’re off… and so on.
This ‘yo-yo-ing’ effect can go on for some time because the partner of the commitment phobic is often just so glad to get them back, that they’ll put up with all the uncertainty in between.
Another way for a person with commitment phobia to avoid having to become involved in a long term relationship is to form a series of superficial relationships that are almost certainly never going to lead to anything more long-term.
This may give the commitment phobic the appearance of being promiscuous, or overly flirtatious, perhaps having a series of sexual partners for example.
The person with serial commitment phobia may be labeled by their friends and family as promiscuous, but would rather have that, than become committed to a relationship.
Most of this article has been about the person who has commitment phobia and their personal relationships. Of course, we mustn’t forget that commitment phobia can affect the person’s commitment to anything.
Someone with commitment phobia might find it difficult to gain job security, being afraid to pursue a career in case they get ‘stuck in a rut’.
A person with commitment phobia can feel their commitment phobia feelings come up at any time where they feel out of control, trapped, insecure, pressured, or ‘swamped’.
Often the commitment phobic will be afraid of losing their independence, or might fear losing sight of who they really are.
How to overcome commitment phobia
As we mentioned earlier, commitment phobia can come mainly from getting yourself stuck into some 'cycles', so one of the easiest and simpest ways to tackle commitment phobia, is to do something that can help you to get yourself out of those 'cycles'.
Something like an online course can help you to break those cycles, and is definitely something we'd recommend you look into.
LifeShaping, for example, is a short, simple, easy to do online course, that can help you to completely change the way you think and feel about commitment. It's quick and easy to do, anyone can do it, you get free help and support, it's low cost, and there's a money back guarantee if you're not completely satisfied.
"thank you for the info, i now know why i get anxiety attacks over long term commitments like school, jobs and relationships."
"You're welcome Hales... glad it helped... make sure you subscribe to our newsletter, because commitment phobia / commitment issues are one of the most common issues that people ask about, we're going to cover it a lot in the newsletter over the coming months. Glad it helped! :O) "
"My partner i feel is definately a commitment phobic he loves me but when we keep moving towards marriage and a house he leaves and then returns when things settle. now i am pregnant and he is all over the place he is 37 and we have been together almost three years. we never fight or agrue the only problem we have is his fears. i need help i dont know if i should keep the baby."
"Thanks alot for this article it has made me realise that am aslo suffering from this,and for these are they reasons why i prefare gambling situation then straight normal situations,and i make a lot of female beutiful friends who like me so much because i take care of them more than there partner,but iwill never put myself in a position to go into a relationship them."
It's destroying my life and I only started to get it now, i do suffer from commitment phobia and I need to get better. I hope I will get rid of it so I can live normally with no more panic attacks or anxiety.
Thank you very much for this information. Now it is confirmed that my ex was a committment phobic. Thank you very much
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