Understanding Fear Of Commitment: A Psychologist’s Guide

Making a romantic commitment is, for the seriously inclined, a major life step. Those who take commitment seriously often have a natural and appropriate fear of commitment because they take their responsibilities seriously.

Whether a person is interested in forming a long-term relationship, getting married, or having kids together, the word commitment is big because it symbolizes big—truly enormous—responsibility. For those who are genuinely interested in pursuing a heartfelt relationship, commitment brings up images of sharing all of life, the good and the not-so-good, “until death do us part.” This is no small issue, particularly if finances, living circumstances, and others’ lives (e.g., children, friends, family, and pets) are involved. Deep love, vulnerability, and personal responsibility are part and parcel of being truly committed.

On the other hand, if a person is fairly irresponsible and enters into relationships lightly, a fear of committing may never arise. When relationship irresponsibility is high and an authentic sense of commitment is low, romantic relationships tend to be seen as disposable. As a result, individuals in this category often take such a blithe approach to relationships and “commitment” that fear never arises. In short, if you’re not really committed, you’ve consciously or unconsciously told yourself that you’ve nothing to fear because you’ve not “risked” your heart.  

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