5 Questions to Ask Yourself If You’re Feeling Afraid of Commitment
If the idea of getting serious in a relationship fills you with dread, you may have gamophobia — otherwise known as fear of commitment.
That being said, feeling hesitant about committing to a partner does not automatically mean you have commitment issues. It’s important to make the distinction between the two to avoid committing for the wrong reasons or sabotaging a great relationship.
“As soon as the thought of ending a relationship or not letting it get too close comes up,” she adds, “I recommend taking a step back and examining whether these doubts are valid or whether your fear of commitment is hindering the development of a relationship.”
Here are five key questions to ask yourself to determine what exactly about commitment is making you want to run for the hills.
How to Tell If You’re Scared of Commitment
1. Is this a pattern?
Consider your past dating experiences. Do you feel amazing in the early stages of dating, then stall once a romantic interest wants to define the relationship? Do you tend to look for flaws in the people you date or excuses to break things off?
If you notice a recurring pattern, it’s worth investigating — this isn’t something that meeting the right person can solve. On the other hand, if you’re suddenly feeling afraid of commitment for the first time, your intuition may be telling you you’re not in the right relationship for you.
2. What am I afraid of?
It’s also important to identify what outcomes you’re trying to avoid by dodging commitment. Perhaps you’re afraid of losing your freedom. Or maybe you saw your parents go through a bad divorce and subconsciously associate committed relationships with heartbreak. Asking yourself what you’re truly afraid of can be enlightening, and help inform your decision.
“The fear of commitment is often the fear of losing something — with men, that’s usually the fear of losing freedom, dating options, or a feeling of independence,” says Connell Barrett, a dating coach and relationship expert for the Hily dating app.
If you’re loving every minute of being single and would rather date casually, that’s totally fine. You don’t need to give anything up, nor should you feel guilty for your choice.
“But if you have strong feelings of love and connection with another person, you want to share your life with them, and you fear the unknown — it’s healthy and normal to feel this way. You’re probably more afraid of getting your heart broken, or that it won’t work out in the long-term,” says Barrett.
“Keep in mind that your view of relationships and marriage will affect how you approach your own commitment. If you have seen a lot of relationships end badly and generally think that marriages are bound to fail, you will naturally be very scared to commit to a serious relationship yourself,” adds Kevin Coleman, marriage and family therapist and founder of Connected Therapy Practice.
According to Coleman, your fear of commitment can reveal a lot about your fears in life, such as being scared of making the wrong decision, being hurt by intimacy, or terrified of being vulnerable. Understanding those fears can be empowering, because it’s the first step to overcoming them.
3. How are my fears affecting my actions?
Once you’ve identified your deepest fears, ask yourself how they are affecting your actions.
Or perhaps you have strong feelings for someone, but your fears of rejection are causing you to act cold and distant. That would be a good time to embrace vulnerability and show your partner you care.
“Are you using certain strategies to distance yourself from the person?” asks Feulner.
According to her, behaviors like magnifying flaws, mentally distancing yourself, being overly independent, idealizing past relationships, or not opening up emotionally can all point to a fear of commitment. Those coping mechanisms are not going to help you build healthy relationships, so it’s important to nip them in the bud if they are driving your behavior.
4. Am I ready for a relationship?
If the answer is no, you have your answer.
5. What are my reasons for being in a relationship?
While it’s worth exploring why you wouldn’t want to commit, asking yourself why you would can be just as telling. “A man should ask himself, ‘Am I getting into this relationship because I very much want to give and receive love?’” says Barrett.
“We all need love and connection, but before getting into a committed relationship, you want to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons — deeply connecting with someone, growing with them, and sharing your lives together,” Barrett adds. “The wrong reasons? To stop feeling lonely, or because you think it’s time to ‘settle down.’”
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