How to deal with your fear of commitment?


Paridhi Laddha

Psychology Associate

Love can make the moon appear bigger and make the world seem brighter. This is true until the C-word comes up. And if you thought I meant cheating, think again. Commitment is the modern-day phantom that haunts many. We’ve all heard about the terms “commitment issues” or “commitment phobia.” Common buzzwords these days are “I can’t imagine spending my entire life with one person.” “I can’t have my heart broken again.” “I am not ready to lose my freedom yet”, are some signs of the fear of commitment.

Before diving in to help someone with their fear of commitment, let's first try to understand what “fear of commitment” is and the root cause behind it. The fear of commitment is struggling to be vulnerable or take steps forward in a relationship. Fear of commitment is caused by many factors, including worrying about rejection, feeling insecure about your capabilities, or generally avoiding relationships due to past experiences.

We can give all sorts of advice like; “Meditate”, “talk it out”, and the worst of all “be positive” but we really can’t help someone, if we don’t understand the underlying reasons behind their issues. Understanding the psychological truths behind the issues helps us develop more empathy and compassion, which leads to better understanding in relationships.

Dealing with “fear of commitment” can be overwhelming for people facing it and their partners, it comes with a lot of drama and anxiety. But people don’t struggle with commitment issues by choice. The attachment styles they developed early in their lives play a part in how they participate in relationships.

People with secure attachment styles are generally reliable and consistent, have flexible views of relationships, are not afraid of commitment or dependency, and express feelings naturally. Relationships are not always as smooth for people with anxious or avoidant attachment styles. Struggling with commitment in relationships can be a sign of insecure attachment.

Signs of fear of commitment

  • You have many casual friends, but not very close friendships.
  • You haven’t had long faithful relationships or have experienced a traumatic relationship in the past.
  • You enjoy pursuing romantic relationships rather than being part of one.
  • You feel that being in a relationship will mean losing your freedom.
  • You struggle to think about the future of the relationship
  • Talking about progressing the relationship makes you feel uneasy
  • You struggle to be vulnerable even if your partner is trying to engage emotionally.

Causes of fear of commitment

  • The fear of commitment in relationships can come from a variety of places like negative past relationship experiences such as abuse, betrayal, or infidelity.
  • Traumatic experiences with family, childhood, and relationships additionally tend to affect one's desire and ability to commit to others. Lack of exposure, understanding, or experience with healthy relationships can additionally impact one's ability or willingness for commitment.

By understanding your experiences and attachment styles on a deeper level can you help recognize your relationship patterns and aid in inculcating the ability to commit securely.

Let us try to explore the patterns of Insecure attachment to understand the root cause of fear of commitment.

Anxious-preoccupied attachment “Oh so-clingy clan”

These folks experience chronic fear of rejection and doubts. While they long for safety and security in their romantic relationships, they may also be acting in ways that push their partner away rather than invite them in.

Children with anxious attachment often have experienced inconsistent parenting; sometimes they were responded to appropriately, and other times parents were intrusive or insensitive. The child doesn’t know what to expect and ends up distrustful yet clingy at the same time in adult relationships. They want a lot of love and affection but have problems expressing their love and have difficulty trusting people.

Dismissive attachment “Oh I don’t need anyone clan”

These people rely on distancing strategies to limit intimacy. They may have rigid boundaries in relationships and fear losing autonomy or being taken advantage of. These people find it more difficult to fall in love.

Studies show that avoidant attachment in children is often the result of emotionally unavailable or insensitive caregivers.

Fearful-Avoidant Attachment: “Oh I want you, but I don’t want you” clan

People with this attachment style generally try to avoid their feelings because it is easy to get overwhelmed by them. They may suffer from unpredictable or abrupt mood swings and fear getting hurt by a romantic partner.

The bottom line is that attachment insecurity manifests itself as anxiety, avoidance, and fear of commitment, and it’s not your fault, so don’t be too hard on yourself, for feeling the way you do. It’s totally normal and we can work on it.

So now, that I have ranted enough about my “Psych-Gyan” - let’s move to the truth of the moment - How to overcome the fear of commitment?

1. Talk about it

Sometimes just acknowledging that you fear commitment will make you feel a lot at ease. Tell your partner about your feelings, they deserve to know what they are signing up for. Another advantage of talking to your partner is, when they understand your issues, they will extend support and their compassion will help you deal with your fear better.

2. One step at a time

If ideas like ‘forever’, ‘till death do us apart’, overwhelm you and trigger a sense of panic, take these words out of your relationship equation altogether. The word forever carries a lot of weightage and it may make you apprehensive of committing, practice committing now over forever. Say –“Just for now, I will focus on us and not me. Just for now, I will resolve differences with my partner more cordially. Just for now, I will focus more on what I am giving to this relationship than what I am receiving”.

Today is the first step to forever.

3. Work on your self-esteem

Commitment issues also ascend from poor self-esteem. Perhaps, you haven’t been in a long-term relationship because somewhere deep down, you feel that no one will love you. A lot of times, if past relationships fail, you carry the baggage onto the next one, your hampered self-esteem also wrecks the next relationship. So, work on transforming how you see yourself. A personality transformation can go a long way in changing your perception of the self. Affirm that you are worthy of love.

4. Have realistic expectations and stop making comparisons

Recognize there is no such thing as a “perfect” relationship. Every relationship has its stumbling blocks, but every relationship also has its unique, wonderful aspects as well.

Your fear of commitment might be coming from a place of unrealistic expectations. Remember Bollywood and rom-coms are fictional, relationships will make a lot more sense if you burst your bubble of having a perfect relationship.

5. Reassure yourself

You are no longer a child, and you have control over your life, you have the autonomy to leave if your partner does something wrong. You are strong enough to deal with it and heal from it. It’s safe to be vulnerable, it's safe to express your feelings.

Dr. Batra, a practicing counseling psychologist says “Make yourself emotionally available by reminding yourself that not everyone is out to hurt you. If it does happen, you will deal with it when it happens. There’s no point ruining a great relationship by worrying about a potential outcome.”

6. Learn the right way to communicate

Don’t internalize your thoughts because you don’t want to come out as too vulnerable; don’t assign a lot of untrue meaning to your partner’s action, without knowing the facts. To overcome your fear of commitment in relationships, practice mindful communication. If communication is a challenge for you, prepare yourself ahead of time by exploring nonviolent communication. Efficiently describe the situation and express your feelings concerning it. The right communication technique can help you a lot.

7. Therapy

Seek therapy to resolve your underlying issues, get an insight about the root cause of your fear, understand, and accept your past and try dealing with your issues one at a time. You can also opt for couple therapy.

I assure you, if you follow these steps, you will find it easier to let go of your fear and see how liberating love and commitment is. Remember that commitment isn’t the same as love. It’s entirely possible to love your romantic partner and still have trouble with commitment. Understand your fear and experience the true freedom and joy that commitment can be.

View more content by Paridhi Laddha

Discussion Board

What are some major issues that you face while committing to someone?

Hey very well-researched article. One of the major issues I face is communication - this was covered nicely in the blog 🤩