Why Are Some People Afraid of Commitment?

Some people are afraid to commit to a relationship. These feelings are often due to previous trauma.
Why Are Some People Afraid of Commitment?
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Written by Yamila Papa

Last update: 21 December, 2022

People tend to be afraid of commitment because the situation causes feelings of rejection in them. However, irrational fear never leads to the right path, because it’s based on insecurity or past trauma.

People often exist in their own little bubbles where everything is perfect. They live in their own way, surrounded by the people they love, etc. Nevertheless, fear appears at the moment when something or someone arrives to endanger them and their comfort zone. In effect, they feel ‘attacked’. That’s because they feel that something is going to destabilize their perfect world and they become defensive. To a certain extent, this is logical. It’s the same kind of action a mother takes when something threatens her baby.

These kinds of people believe that a relationship is something that takes away their intimacy, freedom, personality, etc. In a way, it’s understandable that they’re afraid or not keen on commitment such as a formal courtship, living together, or getting married. Nonetheless, they should try and think of love as a state where both parties receive and give a great deal, from company to well-being and security, etc. Then, their fear will disappear.

That’d be the ideal situation. Nevertheless, it doesn’t always happen. That’s because fear is an extremely powerful weapon that unbalances even the most organized of us. In fact, it balances the resources we have and those we might lose, not what we might gain. That’s why it’s said that fear comes from insecurity. It’s created by different factors and can cause many years of trauma or bad feelings. Furthermore, it leads to other experiences, such as frustration, discomfort, and depression.

A seemingly bored couple, one more in those afflicted by boredom in relationships.

If we don’t know how to recognize our own capacities or emotional abilities, we tend to avoid anything that rings alarm bells in us. For instance, a possible formal love relationship. It could be said this indicates a poor adaptation to change. Because change should always be viewed as positive.

A person who sees themselves as weak or fragile will put on a shield so that no one can touch them. However, in reality, they’re the threat and not the others.

Characteristics of those afraid of commitment

  • They’re unable to make personal decisions. That’s because they’re really afraid of change and leaving the comfort zone they’ve created.
  • They’re rigid and inflexible and want everything to be well controlled. If not, their defense or alarm mechanisms are activated
  • They usually have problems expressing their feelings. For instance, they never want to talk about important topics, or what they feel or think about something or someone. This causes a great failure in communication with their environment
  • They feel so insecure themselves, that they can’t bear that others feel confident. Consequently, they often speak badly of others or view them in the wrong way. In fact, they do their best to try and convince themselves that these people aren’t as wonderful as everyone else thinks.
  • They probably suffered a dramatic episode during their childhood or adolescence. For instance, a father who abandoned them, the death of a loved one, a suffocating upbringing, an education that was too rigid or permissive, a previous partner who left them, etc.
  • They’re usually extremely attractive and tend to ‘play the field’. Nevertheless, what’s contradictory is that they usually look for a stable partner to protect them. However, later they find they can’t handle the situation. Indeed, at some point, fear takes hold of them and they find they can’t continue with the relationship.
  • They justify their fears or insecurities in different ways but never by talking about them. They don’t assume their responsibilities or their feelings, so they seek to finish the relationship to recover their supposed ‘stability’ and return to their comfortable bubble.

How to deal with the fear of commitment

If you recognize yourself in any of the above behaviors, here are some tips.

  • Admit that you have an emotional limitation you must work on. Evaluate your true needs and risk coming out of your comfort zone to get something more, something better. Possessing good self-esteem is paramount.
  • Overcome your fear by facing it. Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “If you come across fear, stare it in its eyes. Face it and you will see that it fades away”. There are several strategies you can follow, but the most common is not to avoid what causes you fear. That’s because running away doesn’t solve anything.
  • Introduce gradual changes. In this way, your mind gradually adapts to each one before moving on to the next. You’ll start to feel in control. Remember, you can train your brain just like any other muscle in your body
  • Increase your confidence. Value and positively acknowledge both your capabilities and limitations. You can learn from them.
  • Express your own feelings gradually, and accept those of others. This will reduce your tension and you’ll feel more relaxed. You may not be able to express your feelings face-to-face at first, but you can try writing them down in a notebook or saying them in front of a mirror.
  • Trust. This is the key to any relationship. If you’ve had a bad experience before, it doesn’t mean that it’ll necessarily happen again. As always, communication is key.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.