Kate is a relationship mentor and holds a B.S. degree from Sonoma State University. She currently resides in Sonoma, California.
A relationship is hard work. Both partners need to be willing to put in the time and commitment that it takes in order to make a relationship work. One of the most common issues among couples is the fear of commitment.
Fear of commitment in relationships is an increasing problem in modern relationships. According to the the Pew Research Center, barely half of all adults in the United States are married. This is a new all-time low. In 1960, 72% of all adults were married, while today it's only 51%.
What is the cause of this significant drop in married adults? Simple—it is an increasing epidemic of commitment issues in young people, and the marriage rates are a reflection of this since marriage is the ultimate commitment.
How Do I Know If My Partner Has Commitment Issues?
You can easily identify a commitment issue by presenting your partner with small, frequent commitments such as committing to buy a pet together or committing to attend an event together that is in the near future.
See how your partner reacts when presented with these small commitments first and then slowly begin to add larger commitments if the time is right. If you find that committing to these small frequent commitments causes him to stall or to waiver on his decisions, he may have somewhat of a commitment issue.
Some other signs to look for include:
- Making up excuses as to why he/she cannot commit to something.
- Dragging their feet on various decisions involving the other partner.
- Increasing insecurities in themselves.
- Hesitations with meeting parents or close friends.
- Unexpected reactions to sweet gestures done by their partner.
Look for these signs when presenting your partner with any type of commitment and take notice to any changes in their behavior as the relationship progresses and becomes more serious.
Why Do Some People Suffer From Commitment Issues?
Commitment issues can occur for many different reasons. One of the most prominent reasons for commitment issues to ensue later in someone's life usually can be traced back to events that happened to them when they were younger. If a parent or someone they loved left them at an early age this can result in commitment issues due to the resulting feelings of neglect and unworthiness.
They will constantly be worried about you and feeling as though you may betray them too, so it is hard for them to get too close or to let go of their doubt. Old feelings of resentment and pain may be brought to surface as they get closer to you and when that happens they will begin to withdraw from the relationship and start becoming distant. Trust in you and the relationship as a whole will often be directly affected.
Common Types of Commitment Issues
People are all different in how they present their commitment issues and how they deal with their insecurities. However, there are three main types of behaviors observed in people struggling with commitment issues. There is the fearful-avoidant, the dismissive-avoidant, and the anxious-preoccupied.
The fearful-avoidant personality type will present their commitment issues in a more insecure manner. They will be in constant fear of losing their significant other and feel so insecure about their relationship that they will likely display jealousy and be constantly antagonizing the other partner.
This type will have a really hard time trusting anyone and without that trust, the relationship will be unlikely to succeed. Not only will this personality type be especially jealous, but they will also be a bit clingy.
Since they feel as though their relationship is in constant jeopardy they will over compensate by being needy, and clingy towards their partner. These types of behaviors are also not healthy for a relationship as it shows the other partner that they are insecure and unable to give them any type of space or freedom.
Someone presenting their commitment issues in a dismissive manner will likely be almost the complete opposite of someone who is a fearful-avoidant. The dismissive-avoidant will feel as though they need to keep their independence even when in a close relationship.
This type does not want to get hurt by putting too much trust and affection into one person therefore, they constantly hold back and keep themselves distant from their significant other.
They have a sense that if they never make anyone feel as though they need them, they will never get hurt if that person does decided to leave them. This is a very destructive behavior for a partner to have that in most cases causes will cause their relationship to fail.
The anxious-preoccupied personality type will present itself through fear and worriment. If your partner is experiencing this type of commitment issue, you will surely notice and it will be very difficult to keep a healthy relationship with them.
This type will be clingy towards their partner but at the same time they will feel as though they aren't good enough for their partner's love. They may be in a constant state of stress and always anxious whenever their partner is not around.
Since they have had commitment issues in the past, they now feel as though nobody could ever love them enough to stay with them and for that reason they are always on edge and doubting their relationship.
This type of personality will really restrict a persons ability to not only love but also to be loved as they are pushing their partner away just by doubting them and always rejecting the love they receive from them.
What to Do If Your Partner Does Have a Commitment Issue
If you read the signs that your partner is giving you and realize they do have a commitment issue there a few steps you can take to try and help your partner overcome the issue.
- Address the Issue: The first step is to kindly address the issue to your partner. The chances are they already know they have this issue and by you expressing that you see it too but are willing to work through it with them, will help them come to terms with it much more quickly.
- Express Love and Support: You want to make them feel loved and supported through the whole process. It may be very hard for them to talk about it at first, the more understanding and patient you are the more likely they will be able to open up to you and really start to trust you again.
- Get to the Root of the Problem: The only way you will really be able to help them get over the issue will be to get to the root of the problem and figure out why they have these feelings in the first place. Let them lead the conversation, and just be there to listen and offer advice only when asked so that they feel a sense of loyalty and compassion from you.
- Overcome the Obstacle You Identified: Once you get to the root of the problem, you will then need to work on helping them to overcome the obstacle. When they start to get fearful during a big life change or a new commitment that is presenting itself, simply show them your love and remind them that they can trust you, but also be patient with them as these things don't happen overnight.
When to Seek Further Help
If you tried talking to your partner about his/her past experiences that could be resulting in their commitment issues and they are having a really hard time opening up, that may indicate that it is time to seek counseling.
Sometimes people have an easier time opening up to a counselor or someone other than their significant other at first as they feel less pressure and less insecure.
If your relationship is dying and you feel as though without any outside help your partner's commitment issues will ruin a potentially good relationship with you, you need to seek counseling. Talk to your partner first and explain to them that you feel as though they need to seek help and talk to somebody so that your relationship can grow.
How to Know When It Is Time to Leave
If they still do not agree to see a counselor or open up to you about their issues, it may be time think about ending the relationship.
You deserve to be happy and being in a relationship with someone who is unwilling to commit is not a healthy relationship. It will be very hard for you both at first, but you need to think about yourself first and you need someone who will be able to commit to you fully.
Commitment issues are tough, and you can rest easy knowing you did as much as you could do. Keep your head up and know that one bad relationship does not define you, if anything it will make you more aware next time.
"Commitment Issues." (n.d.) Good Therapy. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
"Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married - A Record Low." December 14, 2011. Pew Research Center. Retrieved January 13, 2018
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Kate Daily