Emotional Fitness

Harness the power of emotion to deepen your love with your partner, become more successful at work, and more

Understanding and Dealing with Commitment-Phobia

Some people cannot feel love for others

There are people who cannot love someone outside of their immediate family. They may adore their children and parents, but they feel unstable when emotions for another person rise within their hearts. They may want a relationship, but they are too scared to make a commitment.

This commitment-phobia may be due to an earlier trauma. It could be from an abusive relationship with a relative. If this has happened to you, trusting again is something you may not be ready for.

When someone you love or are connected to betrays you, the healing process is a deep one and can take some time. There is a disconnect between your feelings and what you believe life is supposed to be like. When something devastating occurs, your ability to see the world as kind may be shattered and you find yourself always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

For some, the fear of being responsible for another person is overwhelming. They do not have the ability to take care of anyone else because they are too busy simply keeping their own world together. But just like goldfish, people grow according to the size of their bowl. If you keep your life very controlled and don’t make room for other people, you could be missing out on the one thing that can make it all worthwhile: love.

Commitment-phobia can also take the form of confusing excitement with anxiety. When this happens, many people wind up ending something before it even begins. You may feel nervous in the anticipation of meeting someone new, and then read that feeling as anxiousness when it is really one of exhilaration. This kind of confusion may mean you throw in the towel before you’ve even met the other person. Be aware that anxiety and excitement feel the same to the body.

There are many reasons to avoid getting emotionally involved with another person. You just need to ask yourself if your reasons are good ones and why you may be holding yourself back from allowing someone to touch your heart.

I know that you could get hurt, but don’t let that keep you from giving yourself the gift of love. Yes, you can avoid a bunch of pain that comes with every relationship, but you won’t get any of the goodies either.

Every time we open our hearts to a person, place, or thing, we take the risk of being let down. However, to stay closed off is only going to make your life smaller and seemingly safer. The truth is that you have the keys to make your world whatever you want it to be. It has been said that the gates to hell are locked from the inside. Let yourself be free—open your self-imposed prison and walk through this life with an open heart.

If you have been hurt, you can love again. Also trust that you have the good sense to walk away from someone with toxic behaviors and let a good person stroll into your life and heart.

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Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, columnist, and radio host. His latest book is The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.

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