Pathological Fear of Commitment

You met someone and things are going great. You laugh together. You have a lot in common and of course the sex is fantastic. As things progress. you spend more and more time together and may even start to use those three little words. You’re in love and surely ready to move this situation into relationship territory, right? Well, you might be but the mere mention of making a commitment causes your partner to shut down. Maybe they hit you with every reason in the book why you should stay how you are; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Maybe they just stop calling or become distant, or maybe, they sabotage the whole thing and you leave them. You ask yourself how you could have been so easily played by someone who didn’t care as much as they led you to believe but you may not have been played at all. Your partner truly love you but may also be suffering from a pathological fear of commitment.

Gamophobia is the fear of commitment and can also be defined as an irrational fear of marriage. Although not a diagnosable mental illness, the psychiatric community agrees that it is very real. Fear of commitment or long-term relationship anxiety could be linked to early experiences or even trauma. Someone may fear commitment because they’re afraid of being abandoned, hurt, or betrayed, for example.

An article in Psyche Central states:

It’s possible for someone to experience gamophobia only. They might feel comfortable committing to their job, other relationships, and events that require long-term responsibility.

If your partner has a fear of commitment or commitment phobia, that doesn’t necessarily mean they:

  • don’t love you
  • don’t value you
  • are rejecting you
  • don’t want to spend time with you
  • are cheating on you
  • are playing with you

It may be difficult for someone to deal with the commitment itself but not the feelings. They may be in love, want to spend time with you, and even desire to get closer. Yet, they might have a hard time dealing with the dedication and engagement this may require.

If they live with a phobia, the irrational fear this involves may trump their feelings.

So, how do you know if your partner is playing you or if they truly fear commitment? What are the signs of commitment phobia?

Sadly, those who fear commitment demonstrate the same behaviors as those who consider themselves “players”.

They don’t make long term plans and if they do, they don’t include you in them.

They don’t readily open up about their feelings or have deep conversations.

They may avoid contact with you, particularly is you’ve mentioned making plans or moving your relationship to the next level.

The best way to approach a partner with fear of commitment is through open communication. You can’t threaten or trick them in to committing to you. These tactics will only drive them further away. Be real with them. Tell them that you understand that they are confused about taking the next step and assure them that you know that they love you. Agree to move slowly as long as they agree to work on the problem.

Some suggestions include:

Individual or Couples Therapy

Practice Commitment – Leave items in their household and have them leave some in yours. Hold hands in public. Go out as a couple with other couples. Take weekend trips or a vacation and plan future trips together.

Be empathetic. Most of us have experienced a breakup that left us a little shell shocked. Talk about it.

The bottom line is that fear of commitment doesn’t make some one impossible to date. It just means that the relationship will take more work, lot’s of trust, and honest communication. It’s not easy to be with someone who fears commitment and not take it personally, but if you’re willing to put your feelings aside and they’re willing to work on the issue, it is possible for your partner to overcome their fear.

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