Fear of commitment is a real phobia that can cause huge disruptions in the lives of those who suffer from it. As a result, dating someone with commitment issues can be hard work.
If your partner freaks out when you get too close, or pushes you away when things appear to be getting serious, you know what I’m talking about.
I used to be terrified of commitment. I couldn’t stand the idea of losing my freedom, as I associated committed relationships with pain and anxiety. But, below the surface, I was desperate for true, meaningful connections.
This pattern of mine was causing me to sabotage my own happiness. I’d disappear the moment I felt like someone was truly into me. I couldn’t even control it; something inside me would just suddenly feel triggered.
Looking back now, it’s clear to me why I was so afraid of relationships, and I’m beyond grateful that I’ve been able to change my mindset and heal my emotional wounds.
I’m aware of how confusing it can be do date someone who’s afraid of commitment, so I hope I can provide some insights.
. . .
1. They likely have an avoidant or anxious-avoidant attachment style
We all have an attachment style. It’s based on your relationship with our parents, and it affects how we behave and interact in our romantic relationships.
For instance, if your parents didn’t show love in a stable, consistent way, you’ve likely absorbed the message that you couldn’t rely on them, that you were unlovable or unworthy of love.
And these beliefs, in their very basic, emotional form, get lodged in your subconscious mind and form your attachment style. You’ll carry them into adulthood and apply them to every human interaction.
People who are afraid of commitment usually have:
- Avoidant attachment: extremely independent, emotionally unavailable, afraid of showing emotions, have trouble getting close to others or trusting others in relationships.
- Anxious-avoidant attachment: deep fear of abandonment, seek validation often; crave intimacy but also avoid it at all costs, which leads to push-pull behavior.
Both attachment styles belong to the insecure category.
2. They’re probably trying to deal with many unprocessed emotions from the past (or avoiding them)
Whether it is childhood trauma, past romantic relationships or unaddressed fears, there’s something they can’t fully cope with.
We all have different coping mechanisms, and more often than not, they’re not healthy at all. Although avoidant individuals pride themselves on their independence and go go go mentality, it usually is just a facade. In reality, they’re trying to avoid their feelings and emotions.
Or, they’re actually trying to process them and can’t make up space for an intimate, committed relationship. This is a healthy coping mechanism, as we should all give ourselves the space and the time to heal.
3. They may not even be aware of how confusing their behavior is
It’s difficult for all of us to identify our emotional wounds, and commitment phobes are no exception.
When I had commitment issues, I didn’t see myself as someone afraid of commitment. Actually, I thought it was an intelligent and sensible decision of mine not to enter any relationship, as every relationship around me was full of drama, jealousy and other kinds of unhealthy behavior.
I was aware enough to know I had some fears and insecurities that I needed to figure out, but I had no idea of how deep they were.
I had been cheated on in the worst possible way in my first relationship, and even though years had gone by, I still couldn’t trust anyone — so, I pushed away anyone who’d try to lower the huge walls I had built (unless they were the ones pushing me away first).
I was only able to fully recognize my issues when I suddenly realized I was stuck in a cycle of attracting unstable, unreliable, emotionally troubled people — basically, people who were just like me.
4. Your love won’t change them
I know. This is a hard pill to swallow. But people change when they’re ready to work through their issues (if ever), not when you want them to.
Healing our wounds is an endless, arduous path. Although I was able to change my attachment style to secure, I’m constantly diving into my feelings and gaining new insights on why I am the way I am and how to improve myself.
I’ve been in an amazing, loving relationship for 3 years and I’m still getting in touch with emotional wounds from my childhood that contributed to my insecure attachment, and that I was completely unaware of.
Change is only possible when there’s the ability to self-reflect and do some deep, deep inner work.
5. Be honest with yourself: why do you feel attracted to someone who treats you poorly?
If you’re constantly getting into relationships with avoidant or anxious-avoidant individuals, chances are you also have an insecure attachment style. Usually, insecure attachments feed on each other.
It may be difficult to identify the pattern, but it’s the only way to break the cycle and start dating secure people.
As I said before, I only recognized my emotional issues because I noticed I’d always get myself into unhealthy, push-pull relationships that I knew had no future at all.
I’d blame their inconsistent behavior, until I realized they were just a mirror of myself. It was me causing my own pain.
You’re probably telling yourself “what?! No way, it’s their fault!” just like I did. But I invite you to do some reflection on these questions:
- Is this a pattern in your life? Do you attract emotionally unavailable people over and over again?
- If so, if their behavior is so confusing and inconsistent, why don’t you walk away? Why do you feel the need to fix them or understand them?
- If the relationship is unhealthy, why are you still in it? Couldn’t it be because deep down you think you don’t deserve any better?
Let’s be real: securely attached people don’t put up with unhealthy behavior. They know they deserve better and they know they’re whole on their own; they don’t need external validation and they don’t stay in relationships that do not serve them.
If you find yourself attracting insecurely attached individuals, it’s because you also have an insecure attachment style.
. . .
People with commitment issues have a past they haven’t fully recovered from (even though they probably think they have it all figured out).
They’re not going to change for you. Staying in this kind of relationship is like watering a dead plant hoping it will come back to life. It won’t, and you’re just wasting your time. If they ever change, it’s because they want to.
Instead of trying to change them, you should focus on yourself and do some self-reflection. Why are you trying to win their love? Couldn’t it be because you subconsciously believe being loved by them would prove that you’re good enough?
Be honest with yourself and heal your wounds — then, you’ll come to the realization that you don’t need anybody’s love; you already have your own.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
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