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How to Understand Your Fear of Commitment

A man who has a fear of commitment sitting outside leaning against a window with her girlfriend as they have a discussion.

Relationships aren’t the easiest of things to navigate. Not for anyone. That said, some people find them more challenging than others. The thought of entering a new relationship can fill certain people with a whole world of anxiety and fear.

Commitment phobia—fear of commitment—is a real thing, and it affects more people than you might think.

These people have a hard time staying in a relationship long term, despite wanting to develop a long-term connection with someone. The intensity of their fears and anxiety grow the longer they’re in a relationship, and can become too overwhelming to cope with. Eventually, this will cause them to duck out of a relationship even if they genuinely care about someone.

It’s easy to feel hurt when you’re on the receiving end of this behavior, and judge someone for entering a relationship if they knew they weren’t going to be that serious or committed to it. But once you explore the root causes of this behavior, you’ll realize that it’s the result of past experiences that have left them wounded, jaded, and fearful of letting someone in.

And we can all relate to that to some extent, right?

Here are some common causes of fear of commitment:

– Experiencing poor romantic relationships (first-hand or observing their parents while growing up)
– Fear of it not being the “right” relationship
– Fear of being abandoned, cheated on, or abused (or experience of this)
– Fear of trusting again after being hurt in the past
– Childhood abuse or trauma
– Experiencing complex family dynamics, or not having their needs met in childhood

These experiences can lead some people to choose a life without serious relationships or commitments, and to deal solely in hook-ups and flings. This can be satisfying for a while, but eventually we all reach the point where hook-ups lose their appeal and become increasingly unfulfilling until we crave something much deeper.

Here’s how your fear of commitment might show up in your dating life today.

1. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
The rise of dating apps means we have more options as single people than we’ve ever had before. But the paradox of choice is that we now find it increasingly difficult to make a decision, like kids in a candy store being distracted everywhere we turn.

If you have a fear of missing out on someone or something better, then you’ll spend your entire life pursuing the next best thing, instead of putting the work into something that can truly make you happy.

What are you waiting for to come along? Is the grass always greener on the other side, or is it greener where you water it?

2. Unrealistic expectations.
Some people spend their time thinking about what they don’t have, while others create insanely long checklists outlining the exact person we’re searching for. Then we sit and wonder and moan about how we can’t find anyone great.

Be mindful that romantic comedies aren’t real; and real life is the seriously unedited version. Check yourself when it comes to what you’re expecting in a relationship, and remember that there is no perfect person.

3. Fear of being vulnerable and getting hurt.
It’s likely we’ve all experienced rejection and pain at the hands of people we’ve dated in the past. Depending on how bad the experience was, some people can be left with wounds they’re still trying to heal, and therefore deep reservations about entering into a new relationship.

This is normal. Just try your best to give new people you meet a chance, and remember you don’t know them, and they don’t deserve to be tarnished with someone else’s brush.

4. You’re too busy.
LIE. No one is too busy. If it’s important to you, you’ll make time for it. There’s probably a ton of things in your life sapping your time that you don’t even enjoy. Re-prioritize. Get rid of things that deplete you, or make you miserable.

Now ask yourself, what’s the real reason you’re avoiding committing to someone?

5. You think you’re too young.
We all meet people at different times in our lives. Sometimes we tell ourselves a relationship didn’t work out because it was bad timing, but I don’t believe this is actually a thing. Either two people want to be together, or they don’t. Screw timing.

If you feel strongly about someone, and you can see a real future with them, don’t avoid commitment because you think you’re too young, or part of you just doesn’t feel ready.

You might think you have plenty of time, but it’s not infinite, and it won’t wait around for you. So don’t wait for it.

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