It’s a common misconception that people who have commitment challenges don’t want to be in a relationship or don’t want to plan out fun activities in advance. People who have commitment challenges often do want to engage in future-oriented thinking, but have emotional barriers to doing so.
What are commitment challenges?
People also call commitment challenges having “fear of commitment.” These terms describe the avoidance of making commitments or long term plans due to the negative emotional reactions that come with them. This is often a recurring state of mind that can impact multiple settings such as romantic relationships, the workplace, and friendships.
People who have commitment challenges may find themselves dismissing the idea of long term plans because they’re afraid that they’ll get hurt or they’ll hurt someone else. They might be worried about having another person or people depending on them – so much so that they refuse to engage in situations where this could happen. Commitment challenges may be explicitly known or unconscious to the individual who experiences them. This may leave people with commitment challenges confused about their reactions and behaviors, which can impact their mental health. Relationship conflicts can also negatively impact their mental health.
Origin of commitment challenges
Everyone’s reasons for avoiding or being afraid of commitment vary depending on personality, upbringing, past experiences with commitment, and culture. Some people find that their commitment challenges arise after a particularly difficult relationship, break-up, or interpersonal interaction. This is especially true for people who have experienced abuse in relationships or engaged in toxic relationships. People who have been cheated on might also have difficulty with commitment in the future.
Commitment challenges are often a result of an insecure attachment style. Attachment styles describe how an individual was raised – how we experience the relationships we have with our primary caregivers as infants and young children leads to emotions, reactions, and behaviors in adulthood. Individuals who were raised with an insecure attachment to their caregivers may find that they have a hard time trusting other people or being vulnerable with them.
Individuals who have commitment challenges often want to engage in intimate relationships or become closer to those around them – yet something holds them back. By recognizing instances of fear of commitment and working with a therapist around how to mitigate these behaviors, you can move past commitment challenges and grow your relationships.
Symptoms of commitment challenges
There are many common signs that someone has an issue around commitment when presented with an appropriate, healthy relationship (sometimes, fearing commitment when the relationship is toxic or unhealthy is a natural and justified reaction!). Here are some of those signs:
- You have difficulty making social plans into the future
- You feel disconnected when your partner talks about taking the relationship to the next stage
- You feel trapped when someone else shows signs of depending on you
- You like dating but don’t want to be with just one person
- You enjoy hanging out with your partner but don’t feel emotionally attached
- You spend a lot of time wondering if your partner likes you
- You have dozens of texts or calls waiting for your response
Commitment challenges will look different for everyone, however the associated behaviors stem from a place of fear, discomfort, or anxiety.
Therapy for commitment challenges
Therapy is a great way to better understand your commitment challenges and move past them. Therapists who specialize in treating commitment challenges encourage clients to become more aware of their behaviors and emotional reactions when prompted with commitments. Clients will learn how to be more vulnerable around others and get out of their comfort zones for the benefit of their relationships.
Therapy is a place of non-judgment. It’s a place for self-exploration and healing, which can lead to interpersonal growth, including commitment to partners, friends, and family members.