Commitment Means Facing Your Fears

Note: This is the third of a three-part series. Click here for part two

The following are issues that lead people to fear commitment in their intimate relationships:

  • The fear of giving up the dream. Walking along-side each of us is a dream of the ideal partner, the soul mate, the karmic connection.  This is the partner we are waiting for. In our dreams s/he is the Right One.  And we worry that if we settle down with someone else, we won’t be free if Mr. or Ms. Right shows up.  Part of growing up is giving up this dream.
  • The fear of growing up and becoming a real adult. Getting married, having children, raising a family—these are the classic sign-posts of commitment in our culture.  Commitment is about love, but it is also about responsibility, compromise, sacrifice and work. In short, commitment is about growing up.  Growing up isn’t easy for anyone.  It means relinquishing hopes and fantasies.  It means a lot more work and a lot less play.  It means facing reality.  For some, that’s way too much to ask.
  • The fear of loving too much. Love can make you feel you are out of control. If you have ever “given away the store”—or if you have any sense that you might not be able to protect yourself appropriately in a loving relationship—this fear might strike a deep chord.
  • The fear of dependency. For some the anxiety revolves around being overly dependent on another person and losing the ability of taking care of one’s self.  Others worry about the responsibility of having someone else’s well-being placed in their care.
  • The fear of being found out. Everyone has at least a few insecurities, a few ways in which we worry that we might be slightly substandard, so to speak.  Some people are so ashamed of themselves and/or their circumstances that they keep secret what makes them feel like damaged goods. But committed relationships make it tough to have secrets.  When we are with our mates, we are exposed.
  • The fear that there is no room in your life for another person. Working day and night to establish your career; studying day and night to get a degree; struggling day and night to get your business off the ground—demands like these sometimes make us feel that we have little left to give.
  • The fear of the realistic burdens of marriage and a family. Among other concerns, a women may fear getting stuck with an unfair share of household chores and childcare.  A man may fear trying to handle the financial responsibilities of a family on his salary.

Commitment fears are often influenced by our unique circumstances.  When a 43-year-old man worries about taking on responsibilities of adulthood, we are less than sympathetic.  But when a 23-year-old expresses the same sentiments, they may make perfect sense.

The question to ask yourself is how great are your commitment conflicts?  Are they merely affecting your relationships—or are they destroying your relationships?  Are your conflicts affecting your life, or are they controlling your life?  Do you approach the possibility of commitment with a healthy sense of caution, or are you downright phobic?  Are your fears pushing you to be with inappropriate partners and driving you away from the good prospects?

Source: He’s Scared, She’s Scared by Stephen Carter and Julia Sokol

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