People frequently perceive “commitment issues” as a problem in their relationships or potential relationships with others, but they don’t necessarily know where they come from or how to deal with them effectively. Many others simply disregard all the signs of a partner’s (or their own) commitment issues and then wonder why their relationships continue to be difficult or fail.
You may be the one with commitment issues, or you may be in a relationship where your spouse is. In either case, it’s critical to understand what commitment issues are, note the signs and how to deal with them when they arise.
What Does It Mean to Have “Commitment Issues”?
Commitment issues, also known as commitment phobia, relationship anxiety, or fear of commitment, occur when a person finds it difficult to devote themselves to a long-term objective in a relationship or to the relationship itself. This can apply to individuals who are already in an intimate relationship or to those who are single and getting to know someone during the dating process.
Commitment issues in relationships may manifest as a partner rejecting an opportunity to pursue a higher degree of investment in the relationship, such as getting married or moving in together. It may also appear as having a fantastic time together but recognizing the person is reluctant to progress to the next level to date seriously for persons just getting to know someone in the early dating phase.
Commitment is the state or attribute of being dedicated to a person, cause, or activity. Commitment in the context of a typical monogamous relationship usually means that you are willing to go through the phases of a relationship together. There is a sense of growth. A person with commitment issues, on the other hand, suffers from this sense of dedication and taking the next step.
Commitment Issues Signs
While commitment issues can be complicated, here are a few signs to help you spot them in yourself or others:
- Avoiding establishing future plans with your partner
- Avoiding discussing or thinking about the relationship’s future
- Serious or long-term partnerships are always out of the question.
- A lack of emotional attachment
- Response time to phone calls and SMS is delayed.
- Behavior that is erratic or inconsistent
- Nitpicky about minor details
- Communication breakdown
- A history of short-lived relationships
Importantly, many people simply do not desire the relationship structures that society forces upon us, such as long-term relationships, monogamy, marriage, and children. It’s not because they lack commitment, but rather because they choose to live their lives on their own terms.
What causes someone to have Commitment Issues?
No two persons with commitment issues will look the same because they all come from diverse places. Some people with commitment issues have firsthand experience with disastrous romantic relationships or have watched others in failed partnerships.
Here are some possible causes of commitment issues:
#1. Fear of the relationship ending without notice or warning.
If a person has experienced this in the past, they may be more careful in future relationships because they are afraid it may happen again, with some departing them without notice.
#2. Fear of not being in the “proper” relationship.
A person may be concerned that the person they’re with is not “the one.” Many people engage or stay in relationships for reasons such as money, children, sex, or convenience, so they don’t commit at a higher level because they realize this isn’t someone they want to be with or stay with long term.
#3. Fear of being in an unhealthy relationship.
Relationships fail for a variety of reasons. However, the unknown or the dread of something horrible happening can keep a person from committing. This may be especially true for persons who have been in dysfunctional relationships in the past, marked by desertion, infidelity, abuse, or other negative dynamics.
#4. They have trust issues as a result of prior hurts inflicted by persons close to them.
When someone close to you betrays your confidence, some people may never trust anybody else again, including their partner. They may transpose the previous scenario onto their new companion.
#5. Childhood trauma or abuse
Unresolved trauma and abuse can rear their ugly heads at any time. It’s like an open wound. As a result, even if you urgently want to heal, being with someone else can be a constant trigger and reopening of the wound.
#6. Unmet childhood needs or attachment issues
Our primary caregivers are supposed to be the ones who met our needs and assisted us in navigating this world as successfully as possible. However, many youngsters do not receive the love, security, safety, and care that they require as children, and they grow up projecting those unmet needs into romantic relationships.
#7. Growing up in a complicated family.
Family may be difficult, and what we learn from our families lingers with us. Things you no longer value or want to uphold can take a long time (if ever) to unlearn, and commitment issues might be one way those dynamics manifest in romantic relationships.
How to Overcome Your Commitment Issues
Commitment issues are not something that can be resolved immediately. To make progress, it is necessary to be deliberate about overcoming commitment issues. Depending on the core problem, this could be a lifelong journey in certain circumstances. The key, as with any other problem, is to recognize it. Stop running from it and accept that you struggle in this area.
If you want to improve in this area, consider the following:
#1. Talk about it.
Being truthful with yourself, your partner, or even someone in your support system is the first step toward improvement. You cannot heal what you refuse to acknowledge. Speaking with a professional and working through some of your experiences can be beneficial.
#2. Determine your attachment style.
Your attachment style, which stems from your childhood, could be a major eye-opener to your commitment issues. An attachment style is simply how you relate to others in relationships, whether you’re anxious, avoidant, or secure. Learning your attachment style is important because it typically provides a blueprint for why you behave the way you do in romantic and nonromantic relationships. If you have an avoidant attachment style, it stands to reason that commitment will be an issue for you in general, and learning how to have a secure attachment style may be a good place to start healing your commitment issues.
#3. Think about going to couples therapy.
If you’re already in a relationship and are struggling to commit at a higher level or to a next step such as moving in together or marriage, speaking with a professional with your partner could help you understand what’s holding you back and how to overcome the barrier if it’s right for you. For more information, see our comprehensive guide to couples therapy.
#4. Exercise commitment in other areas of your life.
If a person struggles with commitment in romantic relationships, they may also struggle in other areas of their life, such as the workplace, school, or with family and friends. Take note of how you feel in those situations and have an open conversation with your partner.
Then, practice commitment in your other areas of life! Learn to be more emotionally available by expressing your thoughts and feelings and working through difficult emotions in yourself and others. Keep your promises to family and friends. Complete your work assignments on time. Don’t forget to make plans with your partner and other loved ones!
#5. Consider whether monogamy is right for you.
Long-term or monogamous relationships are not for everyone, and that’s okay. Take some time to figure out what you’re really looking for in a relationship.
What to do if you’re dating someone who has commitment issues.
Commitment issues are not always a deal-breaker. However, if your partner is unwilling to acknowledge the truth and work on overcoming the challenge, the relationship will be difficult to sustain in the long run.
If you are dealing with someone who has commitment issues, the first thing you should do is decide if this relationship is right for you. No matter how much you love and care for someone, a relationship should be serving your needs and progressing (if that’s what you want). Ignoring red flags or deal-breakers is a sure way to end up in an unhappy relationship.
Ask your partner why they have commitment issues in the first place, and try to understand their issues about commitment. Don’t think about the future; instead, think about the here and now. In other words, if you are not in the process of getting married or having children, concentrate on your current situation and the present moment. Keep an eye out for progress. Remember that slow progress is still progress. Recognize their efforts if you see them trying.
If there is no progress and you do not appear to be on the same page about the relationship’s future, this may be a relationship that needs to be ended before one or more parties are deeply hurt.
Commitment Issues FAQ’s
What causes commitment issues?
Fear is the root cause of commitment troubles. Fear of suffocation, worry of getting wounded, fear of choosing the wrong person, fear of missing out, and so on. It could also be the outcome of a traumatic relationship or growing up in a home with unhealthy boundaries.
Is commitment issues a mental illness?
Commitment phobia isn’t an official diagnosis, but it’s a problem that mental health professionals frequently encounter in clinical settings and studies.
What does commitment phobia feel like?
They may not feel safe in their own skin and are concerned about how a relationship may affect their identity. A worry of getting suffocated and missing out on other opportunities could also suggest commitment anxiety.