Is fear of commitment a real issue?

Is fear of commitment a real issue?

We are social by nature. This means that we naturally gravitate towards other people, seek their approval and acceptance, and we form bonds of relationship with other people. In fact, our psychological and emotional well-being is linked with the health of our relationships, and our ability to maintain those relationships.

Because it is so natural for us to be social and to form bonds with others, it sometimes comes as a shock to know that many people fear commitment to the point where they simply can’t form or maintain anything beyond just the most basic and superficial bonds.

People encounter this fairly often in romantic relationships, with many relationships starting out well, but only to quickly fall apart just as it starts to get serious. Some of the most common signs before this happens are:

They are not inclusive
When your partner is not including you in activities or considering you when they make decisions and plans, this is a sign that the person is lacking some degree of commitment. By itself, it doesn’t mean the person definitely fears commitment; but it shows either a lack of desire or an inability to commit. 

People who seek commitment are themselves committed, and part of this commitment is including the other person in their decisions, their thoughts, and activities. A lack of inclusion does signal lack of commitment.

They are not emotionally attached
Emotional attachment is necessary for the further development of relationships, but it’s difficult to immediately see if someone lacks emotional attachment. It’s something that you assess over time. It may be small things like the person not sharing their feelings with you, or not being inclusive, or the person just seems inconsiderate. The end effect is that you are left with feelings of anxiety over the status and stability of the relationship and your place in it with this person.

Where things fall apart is when you try to move this relationship further ahead, but the person pulls back suddenly and becomes distant, cold, become avoidant, or break off and disappear completely.

People who are emotionally attached will invest the time and energy necessary to ensure the stability of the relationship with the person they are with, and they will work out any issues and concerns with the person. Avoidance is a sign that this person is not committed, at least in the degree that you’d like or want them to be.

We can see that fear of commitment is real, and likely pretty pervasive in romantic relationships or outside of it.  This seems quite contrary to our natural instincts to build deep, meaningful relationships. Some of the reasons people develop their fear of relationships include:

Unstable childhood and home life
Parents and the home environment that children grow up in influences how the child will grow up and see the world. A child that grows up in an unstable home environment where the parents are distant and emotionally not committed will grow up to see this as normal. This then can affect how they approach their relationships.

Bad prior experience
Someone who has had a sufficiently bad experience may become traumatised enough to fear future commitments. The fear can be due to vulnerability, humiliation, loss of power and agency, or just fear of being hurt similarly again. This can affect the relationships they try to form later on and create barriers to them being able to fully commit.

Whether it is fear of commitment to relationships or to our responsibilities, people have a longing to build meaningful relationships yet can end up doing things to endanger the very relationships they seek and desire. While we might recognise this in others, it’s also true that for many of us, we might also have at least some fear, and some trepidation about committing. This can truly keep us apart from the very things we desire.

Join us at College of Allied Educators to learn how you can overcome your fears and setbacks, and to unlock your innermost self to find success and happiness.


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