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

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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.

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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 November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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