Commitment can be a scary word, but for some people, it’s absolutely petrifying. When you’re ready to be in a long term relationship, ending up with someone who’s terrified of commitment can lead to heartbreak. You try to have “the talk” one minute and you’re broken up the next.
Commitment issues lead to confusion, resentment, and, ultimately, a lot of pain. If you’re feeling like your partner might have some underlying commitment issues, ask yourself these questions.
1. Have they been in a long term relationship before?
A good place to start is to look back at their history. Have they been in relationships that have lasted longer than a year? Three years? Five years? If they were married before, how long were they together before getting married and how long did the marriage last?
This is by no means a perfect gauge, of course. Many of us are looking for the right one, and perhaps they just haven’t met someone that they meshed with very well. Still, it’s a good place to start to at least understand where they have come from and what their understanding of a romantic relationship was before.
2. Have they introduced you to their friends or family?
If your partner isn’t very interested in introducing you to anyone that they considering important to them, it might be a sign that they’re uncomfortable including you in the “important” group. They might not want to set a precedent that you belong in that group, for the long term. Or they might be afraid of the questions that will come later if you do break up, of where you went and why you broke up. Your partner might have a negative view of your future together so they’re afraid of the day that they will inevitablely have to explain where you went.
3. Have they avoided meeting your friends or family?
Have they changed the subject every time you asked about getting dinner with your folks? Or have they even made up excuses at the last minute to get out of going? It might be frightening your partner to think that they are that important to you. They might be thinking about the long term effects of this meeting. Are you going to expect that they’ll come to your cousin’s wedding? Christmas? They might be thinking that they’re also doing you a favor because, when you do break up, now you won’t have to explain where they went.
4. When was the last time you made plans for longer than a couple weeks in the future?
For a commitment-phobe, making a plan three weeks in the future is difficult. Making one three months in the future, impossible. They don’t want to plan for the long term because they don’t believe they’ll be around in the long term. They might have a spontaneous streak, saying they like to live in the moment. They don’t like structured plans. They like fun, spur of the moment ideas. Anything too structured, like a vacation months in the future, is just not on the table for them.
5. Do they let you in as much as you let them in?
Do you find your conversations a little one sided? Especially if it’s about something emotional? You let them in about your childhood, talked about your hopes and dreams. You talked about your fears, the things you wish you’d done differently. You were emotionally vulnerable and you were intimate. But the only response you got back was a “Huh” or just a lot of nods. Or maybe they did engage but it was only to turn the conversations more to you. If you tried to ask about them, they shut down. They would only talk about you and would offer no emotional vulnerability in return. It could be a sign that they’re still pretty guarded with you. They might be afraid that letting you in would be a way of them advancing their relationship.
6. What are their other relationships like?
A potential gauge for whether your relationship is riddled with commitment issues is if your partner’s other relationships are similar. Does your partner have any very close friends? Do they consider themselves loners? Or do they have a ton of friends that they aren’t very connected with? Romantic relationships aren’t so different from the other important relationships in your lives and they often take on similar characteristics. If a characteristic of their other relationships is that no one gets too close, it might end up being mirrored in your romantic relationship.
It’s hard being with someone who’s not on your same level. The ultimate question you have to ask yourself is if you’re getting what you need from the relationship. If you’re not, you need to address that with your partner and if they can’t or won’t give you what you need, it may be time to consider that this relationship isn’t good for you.