Fear of commitment in a relationship is a common phobia that is described as a fear about making a semi-permanent or permanent choice about a relationship, a job, a pet, or anything else. Commitment phobia is most often talked about regarding relationships and marriage, and is the reason that many couples end up breaking up before heading towards the more serious path of marriage. Commitment phobia is often thought of as a phobia that affects men more than women, but the truth is that commitment phobia is fairly equally distributed among genders.
A person that suffers from commitment phobia experiences intense and irrational fear that making the wrong choice will adversely affect their life, and therefore may abandon a potential mate, job or other thing before having to commit. Most phobias can be treated with exposure therapy, however this method does not work well with commitment phobia because it is nearly impossible to expose a person to multiple relationships or jobs within a set amount of time to address the issue. Therefore, the most effective way to get rid of commitment phobia is to take part in talk therapy in order to address the underlying issues of commitment phobia and build new behavior patterns and responses.
The reasons for commitment phobia are varied, but targeting the reason behind a fear of commitment and treating the root cause is the only way to get rid of commitment phobia for good. Some possible reasons for someone to be afraid of commitment in a relationship could be an experience with a death of a parent, divorce of parents, abandonment by parents, abuse by a member of the opposite sex or being cheated on in a previous relationship. All of these issues are serious and need to be addressed before a person can move forward with a healthy, committed relationship.
A person’s behavior in a relationship can be a telltale sign that they have a commitment phobia. A person with commitment phobia will keep their distance, both physically and emotionally, have a history of short relationships, be evasive about future planning, and avoid making too many connections with a partner’s friends and family. All of these factors could be clues that a person suffers from commitment phobia, however speaking with a specialist will determine whether the person is or is not afraid of commitment.
To get rid of commitment phobia, a therapist will work with you to determine whether or not you truly have commitment phobia. Once this is established, the person with the fear of commitment will work with the therapist to uncover all of the residual feelings about commitment and figure out a way to deal with commitment issues moving forward. Those suffering from commitment phobia may also benefit from medications that stabilize moods such as antidepressants and SSRIs. Medication is only used in the most severe cases though.
If you are a person that suffers from commitment phobia, it may also benefit you to be open with your partner from the beginning of a relationship and let them know that you have this problem but want to deal with it in a constructive and positive manner. If you are able to admit that you have a problem and want to change it, being honest with your partner will only help you build the trust and confidence in the relationship if the relationship is healthy. Your partner will be able to reassure you and work with you on the commitment issue until it is no longer a fear that dominates the relationship.