The Commitment-Phobe

Okay, let’s define Commitment Phobia.

Usually, it’s a term used to apply to someone who continuously shies away from long-term relationships, moving in with someone, or taking that final step of marriage.

Firstly though, a word of caution – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

By this I mean that if your relationship in its current format is working for both of you, then leave it alone because it is not broken.

The Commitment-Phobe may have a blind spot such as denial of the problem: “what do you mean I’m allergic to commitment? I’m here aren’t I?”  He or she may spend more time at work or at the gym or time away from home on the weekends, than they do with their partner and it could be avoidance or it could be just the way things are due to rosters and schedules.

Be careful not to become judge and jury as there is never a completely black and white scenario being played out. mean that if your relationship is happy and achieving what you both want from it, then it is no-body’s business but yours as to whether you are living together or married.  How to deal with those who stick their bib in? Tell them to put as much energy into their own relationships and leave yours alone.

Good reasons for being cautious?

In today’s world, with so many broken commitments ranging from big business doing the wrong thing by their customers, down to the ease of changing jobs, commitment does seem to be a thing of the past. Being in a committed relationship is no longer the same as it was for my parents, where, once your bed was made you lay in it. To put that another way as that is a very old expression, you made the choice and you stuck with that decision, no matter what.

Aspergers Husband?

Now, for those who have lived with domestic violence, that commitment took it’s toll.  For those who have lived with financially irresponsible partners, that commitment took its toll.  For those who lived with someone who was addicted to alcohol or drugs or gambling, commitment paid a price. In our parent’s day, and this belief continues for many people today as well, commitment was seen as something to be admired, a strength if you like. As knowledge grew, many decided that commitment was not worth the price they paid for emotional, physical, financial, psychological or sexual abuse, and sought to get out of their marriage or partnership.

Getting Over Someone

Certainly, if someone came from a family where respect and trust were dishonoured it may be a trigger for re-examining the value of commitment, and if a partner has dishonoured or disrespected you then that breakdown of trust and commitment may cause problems in future relationships.

What might help if the person realises that they are commitment–phobic?

Firstly, examine the patterns of relationships for yourself and your family of origin and make a decision that you are your own person. Often but not always, patterns are repeated over time.

Secondly, work on building trust into the relationship.  Trust is built on five aspects:

  1. Trust requires congruence – walking the talk, doing what one says one will do
  2. Trust requires listening – listening with a view to solving problems and understanding another’s point of view
  3. Trust requires reliability – if someone lets you down consistently, you know they are unreliable
  4. Trust requires acceptance – acceptance of imperfections, and a great sense of humour doesn’t go astray.  To have acceptance is to have understanding that people are who they are, and we are all perfectly imperfect.
  5. Trust requires a willingness to learn and grow and develop, to be one’s best and to help another to be their best.

When all of these aspects are met, trust can grow and develop and keeps building on itself, and that’s what makes commitment easy.

The problem for commitment–phobes and this is just my opinion, is that not only has trust been broken, but pride and ego have taken a big hit.  It’s this bursting of the bubble of ego that causes the most damage, because it takes time for the ego to regroup or rebuild via confidence-infusing behaviours and thoughts.

What can help in the way of therapy for the Commitment-Phobe?

Hypnosis can be useful for rebuilding confidence, self-esteem and a sense of self-worth, as can Cognitive Therapy to work on self-defeating thoughts and feelings.

With your relationship partner and your psychologist, discuss what commitment means, what it doesn’t mean, how feelings are affected and what avoidance of commitment means or doesn’t mean.  This might open up the opportunity to discuss emotions which may be buried under automatic behaviours of avoidance or denial.

If the commitment-phobe is in a relationship, discuss what the relationship means and how it can be enhanced, and how that would benefit each of you.

Commitment-phobes may be seen as selfish, or they could be seen to be protecting themselves based on prior experiences.  After all, if someone is loved, married and then takes everything that had been worked for together, or got lumbered with an STD (sexually transmitted debt and/or a sexually transmitted disease) it’s easy to see that trust may be shattered and that healing could take longer.

As I wrote above, this is not a black and white, right versus wrong situation. It is highly complex and needs to be assessed and treated very carefully.

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