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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 March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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