Can a Person Overcome Commitment Phobia?
How to remove the commitment issues and move your relationship forward.
Posted December 15, 2021 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch
Are you wondering if your partner has commitment fears? Such a person fears making relationship decisions that could become permanent, or have long-lasting promises, such as getting married.
While It is common to fear the unknown, people with commitment phobias are sometimes unable to make decisions and are paralyzed by the fear that they could make the wrong decision and mess up their life and the lives of others.
Commitment phobia is not uncommon, especially today. With social media and dating apps, people have so many options. And the more options people have, the more difficult it is to make a choice. Even those in committed relationships have difficulty remaining that way. Often, the commitment fearful are riddled with thoughts that they could be missing out on a better situation; or that there might be a better fit for them out there.
What happens when a person is unable to commit? Some people's fears of commitment can stop them from making plans or promises at all — even small commitments, such as meeting up with friends. Such commitment fears do not extend only to choices that could impact the rest of one's life, but to those that will impact just one evening.
How does a person develop a commitment phobia? There is no set answer, but there are some possible causes:
Bad past experiences in relationships. These bad experiences can be from witnessing parents go through a contentious divorce, or perhaps the person has gone through a heartbreaking relationship themselves. Either way, some people simply do not want to experience that sort of pain ever again.
Fearful of hurting another person. There are those who feel intense pressure that they will not be able to come through for a romantic partner. They have created assumptions of what other people expect of them, and become upset at the idea of not meeting those expectations and hurting the other person, so much so that they do not take the chance.
Don't want to give up their independence. Some people do not want to go everywhere or experience life with a partner by their side. Such people enjoy the freedom of doing what they want, when they want, without needing to think about someone else first. Relationships, even the healthiest, do involve giving up some independence. Romantic relationships involve the skill of needing to consider the wants of two people, instead of one. Some do not wish for this responsibility.
Can Commitment Phobia Be Overcome?
It is important to keep in mind that some people just do not want to be in a committed relationship; perhaps they have made a meaningful life being single. Should this be someone's value or want, they don't need to work through any anxieties regarding romantic commitment.
If an individual does truly value relationships, and wants to be in one, but is overridden with fears, then, yes, given the proper motivation, this phobia can be overcome. As with all phobias, the desire to overcome the fear must be strong; a sense of urgency is necessary to overcome any fear.
The best behavioral method for facing this type of phobia is to practice making and keeping small commitments while gradually getting stronger and building up to larger commitments. This gives the person a chance to learn and collect evidence from the environment, and to see that if and when the relationship does not feel good, they can handle it.