Fear of Commitment: The Whys and How to Deal with Them

Fear of commitment can be one of the most disruptive issues faced by two people in a relationship. Being unwilling or incapable to offer real commitment to your partner is something that can sour an otherwise healthy relationship, and, according to the individuals involved, is often likely to result in the two partners going their separate ways. In understanding how to deal with a partner who struggles with a fear of commitment, it is important to empathize with what might be making them feel that way in the first place.

Reasons that women fear commitment

For women, a very common reason for fear of commitment comes through bitter experience. If she has previously devoted her life to someone who has subsequently betrayed her, then she is unlikely to want to make the same mistake again. The pain of a bitter separation can resonate for many years after the actual split, and may never be truly forgotten.

Where children are involved, it is much more likely that the woman will retain custody in the event of a break-up. If a woman has children, she is likely to be reluctant to show commitment to another partner during the time that her kids are growing up. She may feel that there is too great a risk to affect both her children and herself emotionally, and that she needs to concentrate on her children's well-being above anything else.

Women may also fear commitment purely for what it represents. More and more female professionals are focusing on their careers and businesses, and may be nervous that a committed relationship will interfere with their goals. Fear of the unknown can be a major factor for single woman, who may opt to stay single and avoid the risk of getting her heart broken, choosing to focus on other aspects of her life instead.

Reasons that men fear commitment

For men, commitment may often represent a negative change in lifestyle. The bachelor lifestyle signifies freedom and fun, with unlimited time to spend doing exactly what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. Many men see commitment as a loss of that freedom, as they know that they will subsequently have to consider more of their partner's demands and needs.

Experience is also a major factor for men, when it comes to commitment. He may have previously been affected by an oppressive relationship, with a person who was very demanding and controlling. If his previous experience is one of significant financial cost and/or emotional distress, he will be very unwilling to commit himself in the future without certainty that the same thing is not going to happen again.

Peer influence also plays a significant role in men who are afraid of commitment. His friends may discourage him from getting involved in a committed relationship, citing their own experiences or simply pointing out that he would be better off with them than being stuck at home.

Dealing with a fear of commitment

Many of the reasons for fear of commitment are born of the unknown. To many, a committed relationship is an unknown quantity, and rather than run the risk of getting hurt, individuals will simply avoid one altogether. This can be perfectly natural, but there may also be more deep-rooted reasons for your fear of commitment. Being honest and self-aware is the first step in addressing a fear of commitment. You must acknowledge that you feel this way (and why you feel this way) before you can move to a different place.

Open communication is vital. You should always talk to your partner about how you are feeling. If commitment makes you nervous, then talk to him or her about this so that he or she understands where you are. Try to think and talk positively about possibilities. Don't rule things out or say "never," but think instead about the time it might take to reach a new stage in the relationship, and engage the support of your partner in achieving this. While you may have different beliefs, when it comes to commitment, you need to agree on the way in which you can work together to move forward.

A different mindset is going to be critical, also. You simply cannot assume that everybody is going to cheat on you, use you or abuse you, even if that is what your experience has shown so far. A cautious approach is almost certainly sensible, but you cannot discount all the opportunities that a committed relationship may bring, simply on the assumption that it will all go sour. Think positively about what a committed relationship could mean to you and how it could enrich your life. Rather than assuming that the other person will cheat and lie, assume that he will love and support you and then give him a chance to do just that.

It is important to realize that a fear of commitment is perfectly understandable, but you should not let it stop you from experiencing the opportunities that a committed relationship could bring. Talk openly with your partner, and work hard to shift your mindset where possible. Fears can very often hold you back, and in this case, they may be stopping you from enjoying a loving, rewarding life with someone special.

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