Understanding Fear of Commitment

Note: This is the second of a three-part series. Click here for part one (the quiz)

Do you have a fear of commitment?  Are you involved with someone who does?

The following is a breakdown of the different issues that lead people to fear commitment in their romantic relationships:

  • The quest for perfection. Worrying about whether your partner is the perfect choice, you may find that you become too picky in relationships and are engaged in the quest for perfection.  But also, acting out the flip side of the same coin, you may be more fearful that your own imperfections will be found out, because your own sense of self-worth is tied in with being a perfect partner yourself—a perfect lover, a perfect cook, a perfect caretaker, a perfect provider, a perfect nurturer.
  • Trapped. What if you make a commitment to someone and you end up feeling trapped?  What if you end up feeling “tied down” and you can’t get out?  What if another person’s presence, needs, ideas, personality and vision impinge on your territory, crowd your space and take away your freedom?
  • The fear of giving up sexual freedoms. Some men and women are afraid of losing the option to choose others.
  • The fear of being bored to death. What could be more claustrophobic than the feeling of being entombed in a dull, ordinary marriage?  Some people equate commitment with boredom.
  • The fear of physical or emotional limitations. People who make a commitment to each other agree that they will make certain accommodations for the good of their relationship.  But accommodating another human being can make one feel boxed in and uncomfortable. This can produce a kind of emotional claustrophobia.  For example, you might think that if you become a committed couple you have to take all vacations together, go to all parties together, spend all weekends in shared activities together, share the same bedroom, the same bathroom, present a united front to the world, have to have sex x number of times per week, and so on.
  • The fear of giving up a good lifestyle. If you’re happy, if your life is working, if you don’t feel lonely, and you feel that you have a satisfying life, you may be afraid of rocking the boat.
  • The fear of making another mistake. If you have married badly one or more times, you may have a fear of making the same mistake all over again.
  • The fear of losing your individuality and your sense of self. Making compromises means giving up a certain degree of individuality.  Going from “me” to “us” is a tremendous adjustment for anyone, especially if you’ve been a “me” for a long time.
  • The fear of being controlled. Do you have strong feelings about having anyone control your life?  Do you come from a family in which one parent dominated the other?  Did your parents try to control you?  Do you hate being with someone who tells you what to do?  In a relationship, somebody else is going to have some power over your life.

I will continue this discussion in next week’s column.

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

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