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  • Commitment issues can stem from a variety of issues, but are often caused by fears that the individual has learned through past experiences or personal views.
  • One common fear is that of being vulnerable: these individuals are afraid of getting hurt, which is often due to past relationship hurt.
  • Another common fear is making a mistake in entering the wrong relationship; those with this fear feel like there is no going back if they do ultimately decide they’ve made the wrong decision.
  • Some people are afraid of giving too much of themselves—these individuals are hesitant to commit to caring for another, which often involves sacrifice.
  • Finally, many fear the responsibility that comes with commitment: the thought of someone else depending on them is burdensome.
  • The good news is that commitment issues can be resolved—you must dedicate yourself to this healing process, of which a mental health professional can assist you with.  

Some people are afraid to commit to another individual, to a loving relationship—one of those people used to be me. After my boyfriend and I broke up in college, I became so far removed from commitment. I reveled in my newfound independence and wanted nothing to do with love. This was okay for the time being—getting to know and taking care of myself again was my priority. But after a year or so, I made a tough realization: I inadvertently learned to fear and avoid commitment. My boyfriend and I broke up my freshman year of college. For the next five, I remained single. At first, I chalked it up to not wanting to date anyone. But then, I realized it ran much deeper than that. I was virtually closing myself off to any and every person that wanted to get close to me. I made up excuses for why I couldn’t go out for drinks or why I never called back. I put up my walls, locked the door, and didn’t open it for anyone. Fortunately, the past two years, I’ve started removing bricks one by one—and I opened myself to the potential of love again. My commitment issues ultimately stemmed from my fear of getting hurt and losing myself to another relationship. But my personal experience doesn’t illuminate all of the potential causes—only a couple. As Psychologist and Life Coach Ana Jovanovic explains, the cause of commitment issues varies on an individual basis: “Reasons behind commitment issues vary from person to person and can stem from the individual’s past experiences and from their view of themselves, others, and relationships,” she explains. “In many cases, a person is not fully aware of why they are reluctant or reserved in their relationship. They may try to fight it but feel as if the fear is stronger than their willingness to move forward.” Based on Jovanovic’s experience in coaching and therapy, here are some of the most common fears involved with commitment issues:

1. Fear of being vulnerable.

First, there’s the fear of getting hurt. “Daring to be vulnerable is a very courageous and risky choice that some are very reluctant to make. Commitment increases the chance of being left, hurt, disappointed, let down,” Jovanovic explains. “Being in a relationship means accepting that control is not entirely in your hands as both people have the responsibility of making the relationship work. This is especially hard for people who have been hurt in relationships before. Exposing yourself to the risk of going through the same or worse pain once more may seem unacceptable.”

2. Fear of making the wrong choice.

Another cause of commitment issues is the fear of making a mistake in choosing to be with someone. Sometimes people are afraid they’ll regret entering a relationship and then be stuck in the regrettable circumstance. “Commitment implies the need to follow through on what you’ve promised. But what if you are not completely sure whether the choice you are about to make is the right one? I’ve worked with people who expected themselves to have unambiguous proof that what they are going to get into will work,” she says. “They felt that, once they make the choice, there’s no going back. Should their choice prove to be a mistake, they will have to accept the irreversibility of it. In many cases, they would rather choose to restrain from commitment, than to commit and make a mistake.”

3. Fear of losing freedom or missing out.

Some also fear giving up too much of themselves, being that commitment involves caring for and considering another. “Commitment assumes responsibility for putting some of our personal needs on hold for the purpose of prioritizing the relationship. Those people whose interests, work, or other personal preferences do not go well in two, struggle with commitment as it deprives them of freedom of choice to do what they want in the way they want it,” Jovanovic explains. “I see this in my clients who are very passionate about their careers, who tend to travel or move a lot (typically living a nomadic life). Commitment may sound too constraining and limiting.”

4. Fear of being responsible for others.

Finally, a common fear is that of taking on too much responsibility. Some feel burdened by this responsibility and would rather stay far away from commitment, if it means staying away from this obligation. “Sometimes It is the responsibility for others that frightens us the most. The feeling that someone else is depending on us. With this responsibility comes the fear that we may let another person down. We may feel that we are not strong or ready enough to accept it,” she says. “This feeling may come out of our experiences from past relationships, as we have learned to see ourselves as unreliable or in other ways unable to stay in the relationship.” I healed from my commitment issues and learned to open myself to love again—you can too. It might take time and hard work, but if you dedicate yourself to solving this problem, you can find success. If you need a little extra assistance, consider working with a counselor or therapist at Thriveworks. They have the skills and experience to help you overcome your fear of commitment.

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is a staff writer at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She is a co-author of Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book and has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

Check out “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book” written by AJ Centore and Taylor Bennett."

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