Commitment phobia is defined as fear of relationships and attachment. A new partner, a new friendship, a new job, or even a new pet can trigger these feelings as it is hard to trust yourself completely to take on responsibility.
When commitment phobia branches out into romantic relationships, you hear terms like ‘cold feet’ or ‘emotional unavailability’. In the present times, we’re presented with so many options through social media and dating apps, that it becomes overwhelming to choose from, and contributes to our hesistance to commit. We’re always thinking about the ‘what if’ and are plagued by the fear of missing out (FOMO). We’re less likely to stick to one person because we believe there are other options available. Of course, it’s different for everyone, but there are many underlying issues that cause commitment phobia in a lot of us.
Causes of commitment phobia
Childhood experiences are instrumental in shaping our personalities as adults. Even if you attempt to forget certain instances, they subconsciously affect adulthood. For instance, if a child saw their parents divorce after years of fighting, they might grow up to believe that relationships aren’t worth their time as they’re ‘going to end anyway’.
Fear of abandonment and the fear of losing a loved one is another reason why many people refuse to get into serious relationships. Separation, neglect, or abandonment in childhood can trigger fears of abandonment, making you dread feeling it again. Humans have an inherent ‘self-preservation instinct’, which means they try to protect themselves from experiencing bad feelings. They go with the ‘If I don’t love them, I can’t lose them’ approach to not feel hurt about failed relationships or broken bonds.
Sometimes, commitment issues also stem from low self-esteem. If a person feels they are unworthy of having a stable relationship or receiving love and affection, they are likely to withdraw from relationships or not put effort into it. They make themselves emotionally unavailable to others.
Signs of commitment phobia
- You feel like running away when someone displays emotional attachment.
- You either ghost your partner or delay your responses to them
- You fear getting hurt.
- You are reluctant to make plans, especially long-term ones
Steps to overcome commitment phobia
To begin with, acknowledging commitment issues can be a great way to start the healing. You can choose to talk to your partner about it so it is easier for them to understand what you are going through and thus give you the space to work around it. A good idea will be to introspect and know what your triggers are and what helps you cope better.