We live in a problem-centric society that wears it’s issues like badges of honour.
People are quick to label themselves and others with these badges because it’s hip to be messed up (ex. Jersey Shore, Texts From Last Night). It gives people a sense of importance to be able to talk about their struggles.
Several of my clients in the past have prescribed themselves as having commitment issues. They think it’s the reason that they are unable to have longer-term relationships.
But just like being nervous about your first sexual encounter with a new partner doesn’t automatically mean you have intimacy issues, being a short-term relationship person doesn’t necessarily mean you have commitment issues.
The truth is, it’s rare to come across someone with an actual fear of commitment. Guys with intense commitment issues will only call a woman their girlfriend if it is a long-distance relationship… or they will change permanent addresses annually… or will get engaged one month and break up the next.
So yes, fear of commitment absolutely exists… but be careful that you aren’t labelling yourself unnecessarily when it’s just a healthy dose of nerves.
Here are three reasons why your commitment-phobia might not be something that you need to overcome…
1. You’re Dating ‘Safe’ People
Whether you are dating people that don’t match your standards, aren’t compatible with you, or that you’re simply not attracted to… you probably don’t have commitment issues.
I’ve had clients who backwards rationalized that they had commitment issues when they were just dating people that they knew they weren’t attracted to. These are two very different things. I would more quickly tie this pattern to low self-esteem before I tied it to commitment issues. If you are consciously dating below what you’re “worth”, maybe you don’t think you deserve very much.
Similarly, if you engaged in a string of relationships that weren’t compatible with you, and now are you trying to label it as one of your ‘patterns’, you might be a bit quick on the draw. You just happened to date a few people in a row that you weren’t attracted to. That’s it.
“But they were total catches on paper… I should have been able to stay with them…” But you didn’t. They weren’t for you, that’s fine, and it’s in the past now.
2. You Happen To Be In A Phase Of Short Term Dating
Whether as a means of self discovery, forging autonomy, or having fun, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to experience multiple types of partners in a short time frame. Having a series of short-term relationships is an amazing way to quickly find out more about yourself, your likes, and your dislikes when it comes to your love life.
Is the problem that you think you should be committing to someone because you’re approaching or over 30 and you feel like it is expected of you to be in a relationship? The word ‘should’ is always a sign that you need to slow down and check in with yourself.
Ask yourself, is that what you really want… or just what society or your family wants for you? Live by your rules, not by theirs.
3. You Fear Being Open
You are hopping around between relationships because you don’t want people to see you for who you are. You fear the depth of connection as opposed to being committed to something.
Any one of these three points could be used as a rationalization of why you are being avoidant of intimate relationships… but you can feel the difference between being open and being closed to intimacy. Are you dating a lot of people because you are recently out of a long term relationship and you want to see what the dating scene has to offer? Great, keep it up. Are you doing it as a means of avoiding getting close to anyone? You might want to re-evaluate.
If you’ve been hurt in the past (who hasn’t?) and are resistant to starting up your dating life again, it’s totally understandable. Opening yourself up to love can be a scary process. But just the fact that you are reading this, means that you are self-aware enough to make it out on the other side even stronger (and you will).
And remember, there is a huge difference between not currently being in a long term relationship, and not being capable of being in a long term relationship. So before you start labelling yourself as needing therapy or anti-anxiety medication, take an honest moment to check in with yourself and understand what you are looking for in your life. And then commit to going after it.
Dedicated to your success,