Fear of Commitment – What’s It Really About?  

Do you have a secret fear of commitment?

What is it that leaves you afraid to commit to relationships, when others seem to have no issue?

And why is it so hard to get over commitment phobia? 

Is fear of commitment a psychological condition?  

Fearing commitment is not a psychological condition in and of itself. But it is usually connected to one, or several, deeply rooted psychological issues.

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Psychological issues are not created in a day. So they can’t be ‘fixed’ in a day. This explains why you promise yourself you’ll commit, but continue to get involved with unavailable sorts, run away from relationships, or use a push-pull pattern. 

Can one ‘bad’ relationship give you a fear of commitment?  

If you didn’t have any other issues you’d have enough resilience to get over a bad relationship. You would learn from it and try another, healthier relationship. But if you develop commitment phobia, or keep choosing unhealthy partners it’s impossible to commit to, it would point to pre-existing psychological issues.

So just what are these psychological issues that cause fear of commitment?  

5 Psychological Issues That Contribute to Fear of Commitment 

1. Attachment Issues.  

Attachment theory states that in order to evolve into an adult that can feel safe and happy in a relationship, we need to have proper ‘attachment’ as an infant and young child. This means from birth until well into childhood we had at least one adult we could trust to love us and take care of us, no matter our behaviour or moods.  

Many of us don’t experience this trusted bond. We have a parent who is not emotionally or mentally well, and is unable to be consistent in their love and affection.

This might be a stressed parent, an addict parent, a parent who had a difficult childhood themselves, or just a parent who didn’t really want to be parent. Regardless, we grow up without patterns of secure attachment.

So we end up with ‘anxious’ or ‘avoidant’ attachment patterns, which are pretty much as they sound, and make commitment very hard.

[For more on this, read our article on “What is Your Attachment Style?“.]   

2. Low Self-Esteem.  

Is it not just relationships you can’t commit to, but really, well…. anything? Do you find yourself shying away from things like buying a house, getting married, choosing a career, or even big goals and new friendships? It could be that you suffer from low self-esteem.

If we don’t think we are worthy or capable of success we’ll avoid any sort of situation we’d have to even try to do well.  

3. Childhood trauma.

Childhood trauma leaves us unable to trust, and we need to trust to commit to relationships.

Trauma does not have to mean living through a natural disaster or being sexually abused. (Although both are very traumatic. And abuse is a sadly common form of trauma).  

Keep in mind that childhood trauma is what your child brain perceived as traumatic, not your adult brain.

Something like parents leaving you with grandparents for six months, for example, might be something you can rationalise now. But your childhood brain likely programmed it as complete abandonment.

4. Personality Disorders. 

Personality disorders mean that since at least your teenage years your ways of thinking and behaving leave you far outside the ‘norm’. Because of this, relationships tend to be a real struggle with most personality disorder diagnoses.

In a case like borderline personality disorder (BPD) there is usually both trauma and attachment issues, but they are combined with a strong fear of abandonment which is a main symptom of the disorder.

5. Negative Core Beliefs.  

Core beliefs are the assumptions about yourself, others and the world that you unconsciously take as facts and live your life by.

In the case of a commitment phobia, these beliefs might sounds like, “I am not worthy of love”, ‘love is dangerous’, ‘if I commit to something it will go wrong’, or ‘I am not worthy of good things’.

But before you jump to conclusions…

Yes, many people with commitment phobia have the above issues.

But there is another very good reason you might be afraid of commitment and it’s one not enough articles talk about.

It’s possible that you don’t want to commit to a relationship because it is simply not the right relationship for you! 

Are you 25 or under, and afraid to commit to someone who is pressuring you to date? And feel you ‘should’ want to commit and ‘can’t understand your problem’? Here is a VERY important truth.

Despite films, books, and online media bombarding you with the idea that ‘normal’ people are always in love?  It’s not at all true. If you don’t want to commit to someone it might just be that despite the other person being nice, or good looking, or smart…. you just don’t want to date them.

There is no need to rush into being with someone. Trust your instincts and don’t push yourself into an experience you are not ready for. If your body is not attracted to someone, if you feel at all uncomfortable around them, listen to yourself.

If the other person is at all pressuring you, especially physically, to do things you don’t want, walk away.

You are you, not your friends, not other people, and not what you read on the internet.

When you are ready to commit you will know it, and it will be with someone you can be yourself around.  

Need help with your fear of commitment? Harley Therapy connects you with top therapists in central London locations, and now worldwide via Skype from our new therapist directory


Have a question about fear of commitment? Post below in our public comment box. 

2 Responses to “Fear of Commitment – What’s It Really About?  ”
  1. Maureen
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