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Overcoming commitment issues with Thriveworks Counseling

Overcoming commitment issues with Thriveworks Counseling

Navigating commitment issues in a relationship can be challenging, and recognizing the signs is the first step toward resolving them. Common signs of commitment issues include avoiding discussions about the future, self-sabotaging behaviors, fear of emotional intimacy, constant criticism of your partner over trivial matters, serial dating without progressing, and relentlessly searching for red flags even when they are absent. 

The root causes of these issues can vary, but often, they stem from a fear of vulnerability, fear of abandonment, lack of trust, and past relationship patterns, among others. This article delves into the complexities of commitment issues, and their origins.

You’ll find guidance below on overcoming trust issues, including the importance of seeking therapy, fostering self-awareness, taking gradual steps to build intimacy, and slowly building better communication in relationships.

What Are Signs of Commitment Issues?

There may be many signs of commitment issues in a relationship. These may include the following:

  • Avoiding conversations about the future
  • Self-sabotaging 
  • Avoiding emotional intimacy
  • Criticizing your partner over small things
  • Serial dating (also known as monkey branching)
  • Not wanting to move to the next level in a relationship 
  • Searching for red flags in a partner even when they are not there

Remember that although addressing commitment issues is a choice that can foster healthy personal growth, it may take time and patience. The most crucial step is acknowledging these issues and seeking the necessary support and resources to work through them effectively. 

Are Commitment Issues a Red Flag?

It may seem like commitment issues can be a “red flag,” but it is important to understand the context and severity of these issues. If someone is actively working on addressing and overcoming their commitment fears, it may be a positive sign of personal growth and development. 

If someone is not willing to confront their fear of commitment (for instance your romantic partner), it can lead to a lack of trust, emotional detachment, or distance, and create difficulties in establishing a healthy and fulfilling relationship. It is vital for both partners to communicate openly and honestly about their needs, fears, and expectations and navigate these issues together. 

What Trauma Causes Commitment Issues?

Childhood trauma can impact one’s ability to form healthy attachments in adult relationships and a fear of commitment can occur here. While I agree that childhood trauma is one factor that can lead to commitment issues. 

Trauma in adulthood such as betrayal/infidelity or emotional or physical abuse in adulthood. Trauma can take many forms such as physical or emotional abuse, neglect, or loss of a parent or loved one. 

Why Am I So Scared to Commit to a Relationship?

If you have experienced trauma in a past relationship or went through a difficult breakup, this can lead to a fear of commitment. Other factors can stem from childhood experiences in their upbringing/family history. 

Why Does a Person Have Commitment Issues?

Most of the time, fear of commitment stems from the avoidant attachment style, in terms of attachment theory. A person with an avoidant attachment style tends to avoid intimacy, pull away when people get too close (for fear of getting hurt), and is uncomfortable with sharing emotions and deep thoughts or getting comfortable with others due to learned experiences where broken attachments may have occurred. 

What Is the Root Cause of Commitment Issues?

The root cause of commitment issues can vary from person to person, but common causes include: 

  • A fear of vulnerability. Some people may have experienced emotional or physical trauma in the past, which makes it challenging for them to fully trust or open up to someone in a committed relationship. 
  • A fear of abandonment. People who have been hurt or abandoned in previous relationships may develop a fear of being left or being rejected again, as they may have been in other relationships. This fear can make them hesitant to commit to a long-term relationship. Lack of trust is another factor to consider here. 
  • A fear of trusting another person. Trust is a fundamental element of any relationship. If someone has been betrayed or has experienced a breach of trust, this can make someone hesitant to fully commit. Fear of intimacy is another factor that can make it hard for someone to fully commit to a relationship. 
  • A fear of intimacy. For some people, intimacy can feel overwhelming or even intimidating. It can feel like a lot of pressure to meet another person’s relationship standards. People may struggle with emotional closeness and building deep connections out of fear of not being enough. 
  • Past relationship patterns can lead to commitment issues or fear of commitment. People who have experienced multiple failed or toxic relationships may develop commitment issues as a defense mechanism or to avoid future hurt. They may fear repeating the same patterns and getting hurt again.

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How Do I Fix Commitment Issues?

Overcoming fear of commitment is often a personal journey for many, but you can begin to fix commitment issues by focusing on: 

  • Self-reflection: Begin by reflecting on your past experiences, including relationships, traumas, and patterns of behavior. Try to identify when and where these commitment issues may have originated.
  • Attending therapy: Consider seeking the help of a qualified therapist or counselor who specializes in relationship issues, attachment, and commitment concerns. Therapy provides a safe space to explore your fears, work on self-awareness, and develop coping mechanisms.
  • Identifying self-sabotaging thoughts: Recognize any self-sabotaging beliefs or behaviors that may be contributing to your fear of commitment. For example, do you tend to pull away when things start getting serious? Acknowledging these patterns is a crucial step.
  • Taking things slow: Instead of rushing into a relationship and immediately committing, take gradual steps to build intimacy and trust. It’s important to set realistic expectations and communicate openly with your partner about your fears and concerns.
  • Practicing vulnerability: Understand that vulnerability is a fundamental component of any committed relationship. Start by gradually opening up and sharing your thoughts and feelings with your partner. Begin with smaller, less intimidating disclosures and progressively work your way toward deeper conversations.
  • Address past traumas: If you have experienced past traumas related to relationships or attachment, it’s essential to address these experiences in therapy. Therapy can help you develop coping strategies and learn to trust again.
  • Maintain healthy boundaries: Set and maintain boundaries with people and situations that may trigger your commitment issues. Learning to say no when necessary is part of self-care and can help you feel more in control.
  • Support system: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and loved ones who can provide emotional support and understanding as you work through your commitment issues.
  • Mindfulness and meditation: Consider practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques to help manage anxiety and stress related to your fears of commitment.
  • Journaling: Keeping a journal can be a therapeutic way to process your thoughts and experiences. Writing can help you identify patterns, triggers, and areas that need attention.

Recognize these patterns and get curious about them. Before you can challenge any limiting or negative beliefs, it is helpful to develop self-awareness and self-compassion, as perhaps you have your fear of commitment for a reason—maybe past experiences that have caused you to feel not emotionally safe or not secure. 

Work on gradually opening up and sharing your thoughts and feelings with your person, which can help you progress forward in the relationship. Overcoming trust issues is a transformative journey that can lead to more enriching and authentic relationships. 

By recognizing and addressing the root causes of these challenges, individuals can rebuild trust, enhance their emotional well-being, and foster deeper connections with others.

  • Clinical writer
  • Editorial writer
  • Clinical reviewer
  • 2 sources
  • Update history
Christine Ridley, Resident in Counseling in Winston-Salem, NC

Christine Ridley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in adolescent and adult anxiety, depression, mood and thought disorders, addictive behaviors, and co-dependency issues.

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Theresa Lupcho, LPCLicensed Professional Counselor
See Theresa's availability

Theresa Lupcho is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with a passion for providing the utmost quality of services to individuals and couples struggling with relationship issues, depression, anxiety, abuse, ADHD, stress, family conflict, life transitions, grief, and more.

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Jason CrosbyMental Health Writer

Jason Crosby is a Senior Copywriter at Thriveworks. He received his BA in English Writing from Montana State University with a minor in English Literature. Previously, Jason was a freelance writer for publications based in Seattle, WA, and Austin, TX.

We only use authoritative, trusted, and current sources in our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about our efforts to deliver factual, trustworthy information.

  • Stanley, S. M. Et al. (2010, December 1). Commitment: Functions, formation, and the securing of romantic attachment. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3039217/

  • Simpson, J. A. (2017, February). Adult attachment, stress, and romantic relationships. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4845754/

We update our content on a regular basis to ensure it reflects the most up-to-date, relevant, and valuable information. When we make a significant change, we summarize the updates and list the date on which they occurred. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  • Originally Published Mar 5, 2019

    Reviewer: Theresa Welsh

    Author: Jason Crosby

    Updated: September 29th, 2023

    Changes: Updated by a Thriveworks clinician in collaboration with our editorial team, providing information about commitment issues: added insights into different types of counseling for commitment issues, how counseling can address various concerns related to commitment issues, the effectiveness of counseling in this context, how to find commitment issues counseling services, and how Thriveworks experts can assist individuals in improving their mental health while dealing with commitment issues. The article was clinically reviewed to ensure accuracy and enhance its value.

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