For some, the idea of being in a serious, long-term relationship is comforting, and for others, it's terrifying. While we may blame a failed relationship on our former partner's "fear of commitment," the truth is that there are some people who experience real anxiety or have phobias revolving around the idea of commitment.
If this sounds familiar to you, don't panic because it doesn't mean you're incapable of loving someone or being in a relationship. The first step to overcoming this emotional hurdle is acknowledging that you do, in fact, have a fear of commitment. If you suspect that you might, but aren't entirely sure, keep reading for six signs to look for when you're in a relationship.
You Always Want to Keep Things Casual
The keyword here is "always" because wanting to casually date someone here and there doesn't mean you have a fear of commitment. For instance, if you just moved to a new city and want to focus on making friends and familiarizing yourself with the area, your main focus may not be trying to turn your fling into a serious relationship.
However, if you find that you've never felt the desire to date someone in a more committed way than going out to dinner every once in a while and breaking the relationship off after a few months, you may want to consider why that is.
You’re Scared of Getting Hurt
People who have anxiety around commitment may approach relationships from the hot-stove-rule perspective. Before we lose you, let us explain: Psychologist Douglas McGregor developed a theory that if a child (or anyone, for that matter) touches a hot stove, their ensuing painful burn teaches them never to make that same mistake again. In terms of relationships, people who have been metaphorically burned by a former partner may avoid any deep, romantic relationship to avoid being hurt again.
For example, if your ex cheated on you, you may have a paralyzing fear that your new partner is doing the same thing every time they say they have to work late, go on a business trip, or are spending time with friends. These fears and concerns that they may be lying are coming from a place of insecurity because your cheating ex broke your heart. Learning how to trust new partners after a devastating heartbreak is definitely hard to achieve, but it is possible.
An additional indicator is that you tend to be the one who sabotages potential relationships instead of them ending on their own. Some people who do this feel guilty for not only hurting themselves, but also for hurting their partner. However, it's a lot more complicated than simply ruining a good thing for no reason.
For instance, you may be so happy in your relationship that you're terrified it won't last much longer, so instead of waiting around for the inevitable, you speed the process up and do something that causes the relationship to implode. That way, you're at least in control over how and when it ends, even though you were so happy before.
You've Convinced Yourself That You Don't Want to Commit
When you're trying to figure out if you're afraid of commitment, it's important to reexamine how you view commitment in the first place. Many people who tell themselves that they don't want to commit are often just scared of taking this kind of leap and have convinced themselves that commitment isn't something they even want.
For instance, if you're excelling in your career and want to spend the next few months or years focusing on that aspect of your life, that is totally okay. However, if you use your career as an excuse to avoid committing to someone, you may have a serious phobia around commitment.
Before deciding that you don't want commitment because things aren't working out with the person you're seeing, take a step back and ask if you may just not be with the right person.
You Don't Open Up
Is it difficult or uncomfortable for you to share your feelings with others? If you are a bit standoffish, cold, or emotionally detached towards people who care about you (and whom you care about as well), these feelings may go hand-in-hand with the fear of commitment.
At the end of the day, being vulnerable and open with your partner is a huge part of being in a relationship. If you are afraid of that, you probably aren't in the right mindset to be in a committed relationship.
You Easily Find Faults in Others
You may be in a relationship with an amazing person who treats you in a way that makes you happy, but you convince yourself it won't work out because something is wrong with them. Whether you don't like their friends or you hate the way they hog the covers, you'll be able to find enough reasons not to let this relationship get too deep.