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Signs of a Commitment Phobe and How to Deal with Him/Her

Signs of a Commitment Phobe and How to Deal with Him/Her

This may be one of the most common of relationship woes. Many of us have been in this situation.

I remember a time when I was totally head over heels for someone. I imagined, whether rightly or wrongly, that I connected to them, and they connected to me on a level that seemed beyond communication – almost instinctive.

But over time, when I imagined that connection to grow, the connection to become stronger…nothing happened. The relationship, whatever it was, seemed to stall.

The answer, when revealed, was simple: She was a commitment phobe.

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Sometimes Love Could Go Wrong

Love, when it works, when two people just click, is something indescribable. But when something is wrong, love can cause significant grief and stress.

Commitment phobia has been the ending of a great many relationships. With a commitment phobic partner, you may start to doubt every aspect of your relationship with them, and perhaps even yourself.

To avoid it, commitment phobia needs to be understood.

About Commitment Phobia

Interestingly, if someone has a commitment phobia, this phobia may affect other areas of their life. They may find it stressful if they are faced with having to decide on things that will affect them long term.

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As such, this may mean that their reluctance to commit to you romantically may not stem from them not being fully invested, but it may be a genuine mental health condition[1].

Why are People Having Commitment Phobic?

In psychology, there are four different kinds of attachment a person may have with another. The idea of this is called attachment theory[2].

Normally, attachment theory is used to describe attachments formed in childhood, but can be applied for adults in romantic relationships. There are three forms of attachment that may explain a commitment phobic person’s thoughts and actions:

  1. Fearful Avoidant. Someone with a fearful/avoidant romantic connection may actually want a strong lasting relationship; however, they may have fears about the future of the relationship. Fearing that they will be hurt in the future may make them wary of fully committing.
  2. Dismissive Avoidant. Someone with this connection may dismiss their want or need for a romantic relationship, and may see no reason to form a lasting relationship. Drop ’em fast.
  3. Anxious preoccupied. Here a person may want a relationship, but out of insecurity may doubt your commitment to it, and think you may soon regret it.

As such, the issue might be way more than them wanting to keep their options open (or even keep the relationship open.) There might be an underlining psychological grounding for their reluctance to commit.

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Spotting a Commitment Phobic Person

How can you tell who is or is not a commitment phobe?

Luckily there are signs that the person you’re with is afraid of commitment. Here are some:

  • They frequently quit jobs[3] and leave careers. Though this could be a sign that they aren’t satisfied with their job, it may also suggest that they generally avoid committing to something.
  • Similarly, it may be a red flag if you know that they have been in many brief relationships with no past commitment[4]) shown.
  • They may run far away from the mere suggestion of the “L” word, or even be uncomfortable defining the relationship at all. Doing so makes the relationship something more concrete in their minds. Not something easily left or broken.
  • They have trouble committing to attending events until close to the time.
  • They are generally unreliable, and unpredictable.
  • They avoid introducing you to their family or close friends. This, in a sense, shows that they are keeping you in a separate compartment of their personal life – a compartment easily abandoned with no affect to the others.

If these sound familiar, then you should be wary. However, if you are indeed in a relationship with someone who refuses to commit, what are the best courses of action (aside from simply leaving them)?

You Want a Commitment Phobe to Change

If, of course, their reluctance to commit stems from psychological issues, then the best way for them to heal is with a degree of therapy. However, that is a tricky, time consuming process, and requires them to actively want to change their behavior; this would be a wonderful and positive step – however, it cannot be guaranteed.

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So, What Should You Do?

Firstly, it could be a good idea to slowly start a hard to get[5]approach; make yourself slightly less available to them. This is a very risky strategy; if they are truly commitment phobic, then this could lead to them drifting away, thus ending the relationship. However, as much as it could encourage them to drift away, it also may encourage them to work harder. If they truly want the relationship work, they will have to work for it.

Always Put Yourself in the First Place

Always – this goes above all – put your own interests and needs first. A relationship is between two people; it’s natural for two people to think and feel different things. If they’re causing you undue stress through their fears of commitment (which may also show that they are putting their own interests first anyway), then perhaps it might be worth considering if they are worth this stress and anxiety.

If they are, then keep on, and hope love makes things develop.

If you are unsure, then maybe give them a time limit. If the period of uncertainty isn’t over by a certain time, for example a month, then perhaps it was not to be.

This realization can be hard in and of itself.

In the end, the issue is a complicated one. Matters of the heart always are. But love, when it works, is worth it. It’s just not always as you expect it.

Reference

More by this author

Arthur Peirce

Lifestyle Writer

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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