We hear it all the time. "He just won't make a commitment." "She just wants some space right now." "I'm not sure if I'm ready for a serious relationship."
What does having a fear of commitment really mean? Actually, it means basically what it says. For SOME reason, you or someone you are involved with, isn't ready to take this relationship (or any relationship) to the next step.
So how do we know if we, or our (hoped for) partner, are truly afraid of commitment? How do we know that it's not something else? Is there any real difference between these two anyway?
Do these excuses sound familiar? "I'm just under a lot of stress right now." "It's not you, it's me." "I can't focus on a relationship right now because of my overloaded schedule."
Very often, we want to accept these reasons because we fear the real truth. Other times, we are just very confused by our feelings and the often mixed messages from the other person.
So, how do we evaluate our ability to make a long-term commitment? How do we know if he/she is really ready or willing?
There are only two real issues here to examine.
The first issue involves looking at a true fear of commitment itself. If this is the problem it's important for the person with this fear to ask themselves a few key questions.
- Are you concerned about the idea of forever?
- Do you fear you could make a mistake in who you choose?
- Do you fear a loss of your freedom/autonomy?
- Are you afraid of a bad marriage--like your parents for instance
- Do you fear you would be a bad mate?
If you answered yes to any of these, it would be a good idea to begin working to understand where these feelings come from. Once you understand them better, you can choose to address them.
Perhaps you need more time or emotional growth before you consider making a long-term commitment.
Greater self-knowledge will help you to overcome this block to building a lasting and satisfying relationship.
The second issue is the inability to make a commitment to a PARTICULAR relationship. This may not be the right one. Perhaps there is a sense of this but it is written off to being a "commitment-phobe" in general.
Focus on the true level of involvement with each other. Is there a genuine connection? Or is there a vague feeling of something missing? Evaluate the quality of your intimate relating. This does not mean how often (or even how good) the sex is. This is about how open, sharing and real you are in your interactions with each other.
Does any of this sound familiar?
- It seems like we are only killing time?
- He/she doesn't seem to want what I want.
- We seem to be off and on in our level of contact/affection.
- I/they are still not over a past relationship.
- I/they just don't seem to know what I/they want.
Remember to focus on the involvement or lack thereof between you. If either person is disengaged in any way, it's time to address the real issue of … "Is this the right relationship for us?"
Exploring your ability to make a lasting commitment should be a first step in your plan for building a healthy and lasting relationship.
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Toni Coleman is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach who specializes in working with singles who are trying to create healthy, lasting relationships.
For a complete bio, click here.