Relationships are never meant to be easy; that is part of what makes them so appealing. However, for people with commitment phobia and relationship anxiety, the smallest inkling of doubt and insecurity is enough for them to draw back and never return; romantic relationship or otherwise.
Contrary to popular belief, though, such people aren’t fully devoid of emotion (that’s a psychopath’s forte), but rather have strong bonds with their immediate family. The problem arises when feelings, and the accompanying confusion, for someone other than family start taking root inside their hearts.
While minor unease and doubts are natural as a relationship progresses, people with a commitment phobia genuinely fear the commitment associated with a long-term relationship.
Some genuinely fear the possibility of losing their individuality and identity, whereas others may dread the additional responsibility of taking care of someone else when their own lives are barely manageable.
Fear of vulnerability and opening up to someone is the driving force behind relationship anxiety. Such people possess an overwhelming fear of rejection and disapproval by their current or prospective partner, which plants the seed of suspicion in an anxious person’s mind regarding their partner’s activities and intentions; resulting in constant stress, replaying every single interaction and finding faults with oneself and one’s partner.
The following unpleasant past experiences, unrealistic expectations, and doubts regarding interpersonal relationships may contribute to phobia and anxiety development:
- Trust issues due to a bad past romantic relationship.
- A dysfunctional family environment (divorced parents, constant arguments between parents, abandonment).
- Fear of a relationship ending abruptly without notice
- Expecting too much from a relationship, primarily due to pop culture-induced expectations, like the concept of ‘the right one’.
- Past abusive relationship with a relative
- Unfulfilled childhood needs and attachment issues.
People with relationship anxiety and commitment phobia often share in the following common traits:
- Multiple short and/or noncommittal past relationships ranging between 1 week to a few months.
- Unwillingness to commit to plan days or weeks in advance
- Not informing anyone of their attendance to an event until the last minute
- Using various modifiers when talking about a commitment.
- Highly active, even promiscuous sexual habits
- A wide friend circle but a lack of close friends.
- Refusal to label a relationship
Particularly in commitment-phobes:
- Avoidance of emotionally attaching words and statements like ‘love’, and ‘friendship’.
- Not introducing a potential partner to close family or friends.
- A past record of unfaithfulness in relationships
- Agreeing to commitments only to soon find ways to back out
- Unpredictable, unreliable and often late to appointments
- Ending good relationships for minor reasons
- Emotional withdrawal and fault-finding in the face of more stable commitments
- Chasing unattainable romantic partners while in a relationship
Confusing Excitement with Anxiety:
When a person anticipates meeting someone new, the body sends signals to the brain to translate and respond properly to the emotion. However, the brain translates anxiety and excitement as the same emotions, hence prompting the release of stress and fight-or-flight hormones. So what would essentially have been a cause of joy turns into heightened, stressful emotions in someone with anxiety, resulting in them either backing out without giving the relationship a chance, or constantly remaining on edge.
How to Overcome Them:
- Recognize that you may have a commitment issue and understand that some degree of uncertainty in a lifelong relationship is normal and healthy.
- Try living in the present instead of focusing on the future
- Find someone who shares the same values to avoid complex issues in the future
- Trust your judgement and be consistent with your commitment; one day at a time.
- Have realistic relationship expectations
- Confide your fears into your partner.
Someone with commitment phobia and anxiety isn’t damaged or toxic. They simply need patience, reassurance, trust and love. However, know that your mental health is just as important.
So, despite trying your utmost best, if someone you love is unwilling to acknowledge their insecurities, it is best to part ways and let them heal on their own.
Not every relationship is as bad or toxic as you once experienced or were led to believe. Trust in yourself, your loved one and open yourself to change.
However, if your fears and insecurities appear too daunting to overcome on your own, consider reaching out to a certified psychotherapist or relationship counsellor.
You can also book an appointment with a top Psychiatrist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your relationship concerns.