Commitment Phobia

Commitment phobia

Verified by World Mental Healthcare Association

Commitment phobia is characterized by a fear of making long-term commitments, which can manifest in various aspects of life, including romantic relationships, friendships, and career paths. It is important to address and overcome commitment phobia to improve one’s overall well-being and cultivate healthy relationships.

What is Commitment Phobia?

Commitment phobia, also known as 1 Lavery, G. E. (2020). Fear of Commitment. Victorian Literature and Culture, 48(2), 407–419. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1060150320000078 relationship anxiety or gamophobia (derived from Greek word “gamos,” which means marriage, and “phobos,” which means fear), is a fear or reluctance to enter into long-term commitments with romantic partners, friends, or employers.

This fear can manifest in different ways and affect different aspects of one’s life, such as avoiding making plans for the future or expressing a desire for a deeper level of intimacy in their relationships.

Individuals with commitment phobia often have a history 2 ‌Steinert, S., & Lipski, J. (2017). Who is Afraid of Commitment? On the Relation of Scientific Evidence and Conceptual Theory. Erkenntnis, 83(3), 477–500. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-017-9899-x of short-term relationships or a tendency to sabotage their relationships before they become too serious. This fear can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation, as well as a sense of unfulfillment and dissatisfaction with their lives. Moreover, it can negatively impact their partners or friends, who may feel rejected or confused by their reluctance to commit.

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Signs of Commitment Phobia
Signs of Commitment Phobia

Signs of Commitment Phobia

Below are some common 3 Steinert, S., & Lipski, J. (2017). Who is Afraid of Commitment? On the Relation of Scientific Evidence and Conceptual Theory. Erkenntnis, 83(3), 477–500. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-017-9899-x commitment phobia signs:

  1. A pattern of avoiding or sabotaging relationships when they start to become serious.
  2. Fear of losing their independence or autonomy if they commit to a long-term relationship.
  3. Avoid making plans with their partners for the future, such as discussing where to live, when to get married, or having children.
  4. A history of dating multiple partners for short periods of time, avoiding any kind of long-term commitment.
  5. A hard time opening up emotionally in their relationships with partners or friends.
  6. Struggle to trust their partner or anyone else in their life.
  7. Prioritizing career or personal development over building a relationship with their partner.
  8. Putting illogical blame on a partner to break up and create flaws in the relationship.
Signs of Commitment Phobia
Signs of Commitment Phobia

What Causes Commitment Phobia

Commitment phobia can develop due to a variety of factors 4 Hadden, B. W., Agnew, C. R., & Tan, K. (2018). Commitment Readiness and Relationship Formation. Personality & social psychology bulletin44(8), 1242–1257. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167218764668 , including:

  1. A person who has experienced a traumatic event, such as an abusive relationship or the death of a loved one, may develop a fear of commitment.
  2. Research suggests that a person’s attachment style 5 Cassidy, J., Jones, J. D., & Shaver, P. R. (2013). Contributions of attachment theory and research: a framework for future research, translation, and policy. Development and psychopathology25(4 Pt 2), 1415–1434. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579413000692 , or their ability to form healthy attachments with others, may play a role in commitment phobia.
  3. The fear of making a mistake in choosing a partner and being stuck in regrettable circumstances can also cause commitment issues.
  4. Some individuals fear committing because it requires putting personal needs on hold and prioritizing the relationship, which can be challenging for them.
  5. Low self-esteem can make it difficult for individuals to believe they are worthy of love and a healthy relationship.

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How Does Commitment Phobia Affect Relationships?

Ultimately, the fear of commitment can be a major factor 6 Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Whitton, S. W. (2010). Commitment: Functions, Formation, and the Securing of Romantic Attachment. Journal of family theory & review2(4), 243–257. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1756-2589.2010.00060.x in causing the breakdown of a relationship, which involves:

  • Creating an emotional distance and preventing the formation of a deep connection between partners
  • Causing feelings of insecurity, mistrust, and instability
  • Leading to avoidance of crucial conversations and decisions, such as defining the relationship, making long-term plans, and cohabitation
  • Resulting in frustration, confusion, and unfulfillment for one or both partners
  • Causing significant emotional distress and potential damage to the relationship
  • This can lead to the end of the relationship if not addressed and resolved

Impacts of Commitment Phobia on Mental Health

Commitment phobia signs can have significant impacts 7 Chambel, M. J., & Carvalho, V. S. (2022). Commitment and Wellbeing: The Relationship Dilemma in a Two-Wave Study. Frontiers in psychology13, 816240. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.816240 on an individual’s mental health and overall well-being, such as:

  1. An avoidance of deeper connections and relationships may lead to loneliness and isolation which can further trigger depression.
  2. It can cause anxiety by creating a constant state of uncertainty and fear of the unknown, leading to a lack of control over one’s life and future.
  3. It can cause self-doubt by making individuals question their ability to make and maintain meaningful connections.
  4. Difficulty to develop important relationship skills such as communication, compromise, etc. which are necessary for a successful long-term relationship.
  5. It can lead to a sense of unfulfillment and dissatisfaction because the individuals avoid making long-term plans or an inability to define the relationship.

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How to Deal with a Partner’s Commitment Phobia

Here are some tips 8 Finkel, E. J., Rusbult, C. E., Kumashiro, M., & Hannon, P. A. (2002). Dealing with betrayal in close relationships: does commitment promote forgiveness?. Journal of personality and social psychology82(6), 956–974. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.82.6.956 for handling a partner’s commitment phobia:

  1. The first step in commitment phobia treatment is to understand and accept your partner’s fear of commitment, rather than dismissing it or trying to convince them otherwise.
  2. Have open and honest conversations with your partner about their fear of commitment and what it means for the relationship.
  3. It’s important to take things slow and not rush your partner into anything they are not ready for.
  4. Consider seeking professional help, such as couples therapy or individual therapy, to overcome the commitment phobia of your partner.
  5. It’s important to prioritize your own mental and emotional health. Make sure to take care of yourself and seek support from friends and family.

How to Overcome Commitment Phobia

Here are some coping strategies 9 Landis, M., Bodenmann, G., Bradbury, T. N., Brandstätter, V., Peter-Wight, M., Backes, S., Sutter-Stickel, D., & Nussbeck, F. W. (2014). Commitment and Dyadic Coping in Long-Term Relationships. GeroPsych, 27(4), 139–149. https://doi.org/10.1024/1662-9647/a000112 that can help individuals overcome the signs of commitment phobia:

  • Recognize and acknowledge your fear of commitment.
  • Identify the root cause of your fear and work on resolving any past traumas or negative experiences that may be contributing to your signs of phobia.
  • Engage in identifying negative thought patterns and substituting them with optimistic and realistic thoughts.
  • Take small steps towards commitment, such as committing to a hobby or activity, before moving on to more significant commitments.
  • Engaging in relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga can aid in alleviating the stress and anxiety that arises from the fear of commitment.
  • It’s essential to have patience with yourself as you work through overcoming commitment phobia because change is a gradual process.

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Takeaway

Commitment phobia is a common fear that can negatively impact mental health, relationships, and personal growth. It is important to seek commitment phobia treatment such as working on coping strategies to overcome this fear, by prioritizing self-care, and being patient with oneself as change takes time.

At A Glance

  1. Commitment phobia is a fear or reluctance to commit to a long-term relationship or responsibility.
  2. It can stem from past experiences, low self-esteem, or fear of rejection or abandonment.
  3. Commitment phobia signs can include reluctance to make long-term plans, avoidance of serious conversations, and a tendency to sabotage relationships.
  4. Commitment phobia can negatively affect relationships by creating distance, lack of trust, and insecurity, and it can lead to emotional distress and potential relationship end.
  5. It can also cause mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and a sense of unfulfillment and dissatisfaction.
  6. Coping strategies for overcoming commitment phobia include seeking therapy, practicing relaxation techniques, and taking small steps toward commitment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has a commitment phobia?

It is possible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has commitment phobia, but it requires both partners to be willing to communicate openly, work on their issues, and make compromises.

2. Can people who have commitment phobia overcome it?

Yes, people who have commitment phobia can overcome it with therapy, self-reflection, and support from loved ones. However, the process can be challenging and may take time, and not everyone with commitment phobia is ready or willing to address it.

3. Can someone have commitment phobia in one area of their life but not in others?

Yes, it is possible for someone to have commitment phobia in one area of their life but not in others. For example, someone may be afraid of committing to a romantic relationship, but they may have no problem committing to their career or hobbies.

References:

  • 1
     Lavery, G. E. (2020). Fear of Commitment. Victorian Literature and Culture, 48(2), 407–419. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1060150320000078
  • 2
     ‌Steinert, S., & Lipski, J. (2017). Who is Afraid of Commitment? On the Relation of Scientific Evidence and Conceptual Theory. Erkenntnis, 83(3), 477–500. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-017-9899-x
  • 3
     Steinert, S., & Lipski, J. (2017). Who is Afraid of Commitment? On the Relation of Scientific Evidence and Conceptual Theory. Erkenntnis, 83(3), 477–500. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-017-9899-x
  • 4
     Hadden, B. W., Agnew, C. R., & Tan, K. (2018). Commitment Readiness and Relationship Formation. Personality & social psychology bulletin44(8), 1242–1257. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167218764668
  • 5
    Cassidy, J., Jones, J. D., & Shaver, P. R. (2013). Contributions of attachment theory and research: a framework for future research, translation, and policy. Development and psychopathology25(4 Pt 2), 1415–1434. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579413000692
  • 6
     Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Whitton, S. W. (2010). Commitment: Functions, Formation, and the Securing of Romantic Attachment. Journal of family theory & review2(4), 243–257. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1756-2589.2010.00060.x
  • 7
     Chambel, M. J., & Carvalho, V. S. (2022). Commitment and Wellbeing: The Relationship Dilemma in a Two-Wave Study. Frontiers in psychology13, 816240. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.816240
  • 8
     Finkel, E. J., Rusbult, C. E., Kumashiro, M., & Hannon, P. A. (2002). Dealing with betrayal in close relationships: does commitment promote forgiveness?. Journal of personality and social psychology82(6), 956–974. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.82.6.956
  • 9
     Landis, M., Bodenmann, G., Bradbury, T. N., Brandstätter, V., Peter-Wight, M., Backes, S., Sutter-Stickel, D., & Nussbeck, F. W. (2014). Commitment and Dyadic Coping in Long-Term Relationships. GeroPsych, 27(4), 139–149. https://doi.org/10.1024/1662-9647/a000112
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