True commitment phobia is fear of any kind of commitment that involves other people, not just relationship commitment. It can involve difficulties making important decisions in all areas of life but folks with commitment phobia need not be afraid of committing to things that do not involve other people. They may have no problem buying a house or a car or getting a dog. Their fear usually is connected with making a promise to another person.
Falling in love with a person with commitment phobia can be a nightmare. Watch out for signs of commitment phobia before you find yourself hopelessly in love with someone who is not capable of having a relationship. A person with commitment phobia need not display every one of the following symptoms but the more symptoms he or she displays the more likely it is that he or she suffers from the condition.
1. Their past relationships are all short and/or very noncommittal
If your beau has never been married and has had a series of short relationships despite not being all that young, then he or she probably is not likely to commit to a long term relationship in the future either. It’s also a red flag if your romantic encounter has had long relationships but these relationships didn’t involve any serious commitment on his or her part.
2. They are not willing to commit to dates or nights out weeks in advance
Making plans for the future that are not strictly required is a major cause of fear for someone who suffers from commitment phobia. He or she will prefer to make same-day plans or commit only a few days in advance.
3. They are not letting you know whether they are attending your party
Just as a person with commitment phobia will be afraid of agreeing to dates several days or week in advance, he or she will also have difficulties saying "yes" to a party or meeting, unless this is strictly required of them. They may say that they might come to your party or even that they probably will be there. But they will prefer not to say with certainty that they can make it.
4. They use a lot of modifiers when speaking
If you listen carefully, you will hear them use ‘probably’, ‘maybe’, ‘probably not’, ‘I might’, ‘I might not’ and the like much more than other people. If asked when they will be home from work, they won’t say they will be home by 5. Instead they will say that they probably will be home by 5.
5. They are sexually active, perhaps even promiscuous
People with commitment phobia have a need for intimacy like everyone else. But their need is not getting met by being close to another human being. To compensate for this, they may be very sexually active, sometimes bordering promiscuous.
6. Most of their relationships are undefined
If you are in a relationship with a person with commitment phobia, you most likely will not have had any significant conversations with him or her about your relationship. You may find yourself not knowing what kind of relationship you have, despite having been with him or her for several years.
7. They don't say the L-word
People with commitment phobia have difficulties expressing their feelings. They may even be afraid of having feelings. So they are not likely to say that they love you and also mean it.
8. They don't like to use the words "boyfriend" and "girlfriend"
If your love interest is very commitment phobic, even the relatively innocent words "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" will signify more commitment than they are capable of. They may simply avoid talking about the status of your relationship, or they may offer some lame excuse for why they don't want to use these labels.
9. They don't have a whole lot of close friends
They may know a lot of people. They may even call them friends. But they don't have many really close buddies. There is most likely no one in their life they can talk to about everything.
10. They are unpredictable
You never know quite how your love interest will behave or what kind of mood they will be in. One day they may be really sweet and seem almost normal and the next day they may avoid you altogether. Their behavior never ceases to surprise you.
Berit "Brit" Brogaard is the author of On Romantic Love