How Do I Stop Being A Commitment-Phobe?

Commitment can be scary, but if you’ve found that you’re especially afraid of it, here’s how you can start working past that fear.

By Keelia Clarkson3 min read
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It’s hardly groundbreaking to say that many younger people are afraid of commitment. Whether we’re job-hopping or constantly dreaming of moving to a different city, commitment is something that can be genuinely scary.

And even more than committing to one job, we can’t seem to commit to a relationship – to decide that we’re going to stick around and make things work. While we do desire to find a lasting relationship, many find themselves in a pattern of swiping through apps every weekend, going on a few dates before finding some reason that we can’t see him ever again, or bowing out as soon as things start getting serious. And then we repeat this cycle over and over again.

Of course, this isn’t without reason. To commit ourselves to a relationship is, in many ways, the scarier, more selfless decision. We’re choosing to take ourselves out of the dating scene, to love the same person every day, and to do the necessary, sometimes uncomfortable, work it takes to make a relationship work.

But still, the desire to be in a committed relationship doesn’t disappear, even for those who’ve found themselves consistently running away as soon as they’re given the opportunity for one. They’re commitment-phobes, but deep down, they still yearn for it. So how can we stop fearing commitment? What can we do to grow past our commitment-phobe stage and finally take that next step?

Admit To Yourself That You Desire a Relationship

For the commitment-phobe who’s been running away from relationships as soon as they get more serious, it’s easy to assume that we must not even want commitment. If we’ve consistently found ourselves ghosting others, feeling smothered, or preferring to be on our own, we might think it all adds up to a lack of desire for a relationship.

The first step to overcoming our fear of commitment is honestly exploring and facing our desire for a relationship, even if it goes against what we’ve always believed about ourselves. Speaking with a trusted individual, such as a friend or a therapist, can help us more honestly recognize and articulate this desire.

Then, Admit That You’re Scared

So we’ve acknowledged that we actually do want to be in a committed relationship… what now? This is where things could get uncomfortable, challenging, and even confusing. It’s important to zero in on the reason(s) that we’ve been keeping ourselves from getting into a long-term relationship.

There’s a reason we’ve been denying ourselves a committed relationship, something we actually want. It could be due to our attachment style (the way we learned from our caregivers how to interact in relationships), unresolved past trauma that made us uncomfortable with closeness, a fear of being controlled, or low self-esteem that tells us we’re unlovable. 

It may be painful, even awkward, to pinpoint and explore why we’re afraid to commit, but doing this deep work will ultimately allow us to understand ourselves, grow past this fear, and get closer to what we actually want.

Let Go of Your Idea of What “Should” Be

We all have an image in our mind of what our ideal man and relationship would look like. Maybe we’d meet him at a coffee shop, our hands accidentally colliding as we both reached for the stirrers; maybe he’d be tall, with beautiful blue eyes; maybe he’d be a romantic, taking us out on dates at French restaurants every weekend; maybe we’d feel like everything just clicked, like we connected on every level imaginable immediately.

It’s not wrong to have an idea of what we want out of a relationship. But these ideals can sometimes hold us back from actually getting into a relationship if we hold onto them too tightly, leading us to break things off with a great guy because he doesn’t quite fit the mold we’ve created in our mind.

We end up valuing and committing to what we think our boyfriend “should” look like or how the relationship “should” make us feel, more than actually finding a good man to share a life with. This creates a cycle of finding perfectly dateable men, only to dump them when we discover one little quality of theirs that doesn’t fit into our plan. But if we ever want to be in a committed relationship, we have to be mature enough and willing to compromise on some of our “shoulds” in favor of being with a person we love and who loves us.

Let Yourself Take Things Slow

Once we’ve acknowledged our desire for commitment, been honest about why we’ve stayed away from it, and even reevaluated what we truly need in a boyfriend or husband, it can be tempting to jump into things. We’re excited at the thought of actually having a mature, committed relationship – plus, we feel like we have to make up for lost time. 

It’s crucial, however, to proceed with caution here. We have to allow ourselves to take things slowly and make prudent, thoughtful choices with whom we move forward. As much as we want to get ourselves “back on track,” it’s much healthier for us, in the long run, to stay single as we search for the right man than to get involved with the first taker we come across. Don’t go to the opposite extreme in an attempt to correct your fear of commitment. 

Closing Thoughts

It’s understandable to have a fear of commitment. Commitment can be scary and challenging, but the reward of finding a life partner to fall in love and build a life with is worth overcoming what’s been holding us back from it.

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