How to Easily Cure Your Persistent Commitment Issues
Apparently I have a commitment phobia. Or something like that…
The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.
So apparently I have a commitment phobia. Or something like that…
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you a tale of deep soul searching and discovery. Or about a tearful, life-changing intervention from loved ones.
Nope. Today I was punched in the face with my committal issues after stumbling across an article online.
In the article, John M. Grohol the founder and CEO of Psych Central, discusses relationship anxiety and commitment phobia as a serious “problem” many people face. See, I can’t even call it a problem without the quotes. That seems like a bad sign…
“While you won’t find ‘commitment phobia’ in any diagnostic manual, it is a very real experience of anxiety and fear,” writes Grohol.
I’m a digital nomad. I work from my computer and travel constantly. Committing to a flight when it’s more than a day or two away is terrifying to me. So much can change in a week! I might love one destination and be excited about that destination.. but what if I discover another destination I like more? Or what if something happens and I want to stay in this city longer?
SO. MANY. POSSIBLE. REASONS. TO. CHANGE. MY. MIND!
General-life-commitments have never been my thing. The thought of signing a lease causes me unspeakable anxiety. I still get a nervous twitch when I book a flight that leaves tomorrow.
The problem is, I never connected my commital problems to the most obvious fear of commitment.
I have to admit — my brain also goes a bit haywire as soon as I start caring too much about another person.
Who calls it that? Too much. Can you care too much? If this was in relation to anything other than my romantic relations I’d be the first one to tell you that love is always a good thing.
“As long as you love him and you’re happy who cares about anything else,”
— Me to everyone but myself
I once met a guy traveling and after a week together, I remember looking him in the eyes and telling him “I love who you are as a person”. And I meant it. Perhaps more than I ever had before.
And then, when we left each other, I told him it would be best for us to never speak again.
Guys… He and I lived in the same country and neither of us were secretly married with kids. The only reason I had for us to never talk again seems pretty clear in retrospect.
“People with a commitment phobia long and want a long-term connection with another person, but their overwhelming anxiety prevents them from staying in any relationship for too long,” continues Grohol.
Right. Keep it coming John M. Grohol… I can handle it.
He adds this bit of explanation like hitting a nail on my head:
“Some may also just have a difficult time resolving the inherent conflict of romantic relationships — the craving of intimacy while wanting to retain their own individuality and freedom.”
So there you have it. I have a (hopefully) low-grade case of commitment phobia.
According to John I should check out some online support groups or read a self-help book.
Maybe I’ll start by not pushing away the next person I love with the same gusto I’d push Hitler off the top of the Empire State Building.
Just Kidding.. but I did come up with a few of my own suggestions to help get past the fear and anxiety that comes with relationships:
1. Figure Out if You Actually Want One
Of course you’re going to experience relationship anxiety if you’re not even dating for the right reasons.
If you’re only dating because you’re sick of your Aunt Susan badgering you about procreating, or because you want to take part in the group convos about Tinder-dates-gone-wrong, you’re never going to be happy in a relationship.
2. Don’t Judge Your Anxiety
This is true for everything in life, but the anxiety and emotions that stem from letting down your walls tend to be particularly strong. The second I feel a negative emotion I either suppress it, or I judge myself pretty severely for being anything besides happy. And when I do, I amplify the anxiety by giving it my mental energy.
Negative emotions happen. And anxiety in relationships is normal. Let it come, don’t judge it, don’t try to analyze it. Simply be a passive observer to the anxiety and it will slowly show itself out.
It’s okay to be a little scared — it doesn’t mean anything drastic needs to happen.
3. Be Open
I got to be on the other end of commitophobia recently. We were in love. But as soon as our relationship got its first semblance of complication? He bolted.
I was sad, sure. But I mostly felt sorry for him.
“I just feel bad for him that he’s pushing away something that was so wonderful simply because he’s scared,” I told my friends.
(Apparently it’s easier to see faults in others than it is in ourselves.)
4. Be Present
Again, this is a remedy for so many of life’s problems. But when you’re with the person you care about, don’t think about the past and don’t think about the future. Think about listening to them, communicating with them, and enjoying the time you’re spending together right now.
Do you have any methods that help you to deal with the anxiety and fear stemming from commitment-phobia? Please let us all know in the comments below! Different things work for different people… but what works for you is sure to help someone else 🙃