Overcoming the fear of commitment: This is how it works

Fear of commitment is a real relationship killer. Separation often occurs before the start of a real relationship. This is very painful for those affected. In this article we explain how you can overcome the fear of commitment.

Fear of commitment and what it is all about

Fear of commitment, as the name suggests, is about the fear of commitment, usually in the form of a romantic relationship. However, this does not mean that those affected do not want this form of attachment at the same time. Rather, it is a constant back and forth between the longing for trust and closeness and the fear of these same feelings. Because for people with a fear of commitment, trust and closeness also inevitably harbor pain and danger. 

The fear of commitment of one of the partners often means that a relationship does not come about at all, since a dating relationship is nipped in the bud if there is a threat of closeness. But sometimes there is also an  on-off relationship in which the partner with the fear of commitment repeats his pattern of moving away and approaching again and again. Still others live in long-term relationships but cannot allow depth in them. 

A certain lack of emotion is also a sign of fear of commitment, because emotions would require vulnerability. There can also be a sudden loss of contact, so-called “ghosting”, especially during the getting-to-know-you phase. Once in a relationship, fear of commitment expresses itself in the form of distancing, such as fleeing to work, or provoking pointless arguments. 

These are possible causes

The causes of attachment anxiety are often found in childhood. Here, for example, a difficult relationship with a parent can lead to the child being disrupted in its development. This often occurs when a parent has particularly high expectations of the child, such as in terms of achievement. Even if the mother or father shows little interest in the child, this can later lead to serious disorders – not least in the form of fear of commitment. The child does not learn to have a consistent, trusting relationship and develops a fear of rejection. 

Negative role model relationships in childhood can also influence later behavior in relationships. Parental behavior that is too cool towards one another or a divorce can lead to problems in one’s own romantic relationship. 

Experiences from previous love relationships can also be the cause of the fear of commitment. If you were cheated on by your ex, for example, this can mean that you now want to protect yourself from pain in new relationships and therefore do not want to commit yourself in the first place. 

What to do if you are afraid of commitment?

The most important step in overcoming a fear of commitment is first to want to do so. Although those affected usually suffer greatly from the fear, the suffering is not always great enough to actually work on it. 

Fear of commitment and the associated symptoms often occur unconsciously. So first you have to be mindful and become aware of your problem. This also includes closely observing your behavior in relationships, recognizing your patterns and ultimately dissolving them. 

It is often very difficult to do this alone. If you are already in a relationship, you should first have open discussions about it with your partner. This also builds closeness between you. 

But also the exchange with those affected, for example in self-help groups, can be very helpful. 

A therapist, either in the form of individual or couples therapy , can help identify and resolve the root causes of your relationship anxiety. This is the only way you can gradually open up to your partner. 

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