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5 Reasons for Fear of Commitment to a Permanent Relationship

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What causes commitment issues in relationships?

What causes commitment issues in relationships?

What Causes the Problem With Commitment?

Commitment issues occur when one tends to focus on problems and overlook their mate's positive aspects. That causes them to make poor judgments of their future together. Then they fail to commit to a permanent relationship and get married.

People generally do want to settle down and build a life together to have beautiful memories to look back on later. However, they need to realize it while the opportunity exists. Men have this problem more than women, but it applies to women too.

It's ironic, but those who are unsure about getting married have no trouble committing to other things in life, such as making a good home, helping people, and working on their careers.

They never have a fear of committing to these things. So why do issues crop up when dealing with a commitment to a relationship?

I’ll discuss five things that cause men and women to overlook valid reasons for considering marriage.

1. They Fail to Communicate Their Feelings

One sign of trouble is when people can't share their feelings, especially when it deals with their emotions.

Discussing one's feelings and thoughts can open the door for partners to work on a solution, rather than let the relationship stagnate until their partner decides to leave.

When one can discuss their feelings and share what's troubling them, they both are more capable of arriving at a mutual understanding. A significant function of communication is the sharing of emotional states.1

Communication is imperative. It's crucial to share emotional feelings, and both partners must be willing to discuss what's on their mind. It's a two-way street. If one is in a relationship with a non-communicator, that's a real problem that needs attention.

2. They Overlook Everything That's Good

Another sign of a commitment issue is when a man focuses on disappointments.

Life has disappointments mixed in. Some people tend to remember those events without any effort, and they easily forget the wonderful experiences they have with someone.

If one ignores the positive things in a relationship, they may end up focusing on the unpleasant things and make those more extreme in their minds than they are.

A healthier way would be to consciously pay attention to everything good about one's mate and the relationship in general.

One needs to be deeply immersed emotionally to be aware of their feelings. Only then would they notice the good things and appreciate their partner for what they bring to the relationship.

3. They Don't Think About the Future

A critical sign is when a man doesn't want to make plans for the future. Instead, he only thinks about the way things are at the moment.

That might not necessarily be bad. For example, if he appreciates his partner and is happy with the relationship, that feeling can continue forever. But a permanent relationship requires more than that. It needs emotional involvement.

If one doesn’t feel emotionally attached, they will not put much effort into making the relationship last.2

That could mean their partner isn't the right one, but they can only determine that with open and honest communication. Talking about the future of the relationship and sharing deep thoughts about its path is key to making the relationship permanent.

4. They Imagine Unrealistic Faults in Their Partner

I'm going to describe a personal experience to give you an example.

I was in relationships where I became frustrated with one thing or another, sometimes for good reasons where there were real red flags. However, there were also times when I was unwilling to consider the good character of my girlfriend.

Here's the story: My girlfriend was still living with her parents at the age of 37. We had mutual love and understanding, and we appreciated each other's strengths and weaknesses. I felt like it was a safe haven being with her—what a wonderful feeling!

We discussed the possibility of marriage, but I felt that she should live on her own first. I had this silly notion of wanting to see how she functioned on her own since she was under the care of her parents all her life.

How silly that was! Who cares if she didn't know certain things because she was still with her parents? She can learn later. But I didn't consider that at the time.

I remember several things I experienced when I first moved out on my own at the age of 20. I quickly learned the three C's—cooking, cleaning, and caring for myself:

  1. When I first cooked rice and didn't realize how much it expands. I ended up making enough rice for a whole week!
  2. I noticed how dust appears from nowhere, and I quickly learned the importance of keeping a clean home.
  3. I also learned how to schedule my bedtime so I'd feel fresh and ready for work the next day.

The point I'm making is that anyone can learn how to handle things eventually.

I was judgmental and wasn't considering all the wonderful things I already knew about her. I was stubbornly focusing on my silly need to see her living independently.

Imagining unrealistic faults can sabotage the ability to make a commitment.

5. They Have an Anxiety Disorder Known as Gamophobia

This is a cause that has a medical rationale. It’s a phobia that creates anxiety when confronted with a particular situation. I'll explain what I learned about this from an article in by Sarah Lewis, a Doctor of Pharmacy.3

There are many types of phobias, and some cause major panic attacks. However, the phobia that causes reluctance to consider marriage is known as a simple phobia, which is the most common type.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 9% of Americans have some type of a simple phobia, and the one that relates to fear of marriage commitment is called Gamophobia.

People with Gamophobia experience an unreasonable fear of marriage, which can become devastatingly overpowering. This is due to the body’s adrenaline level rising, similar to when feeling a fight-or-flight reaction.

In addition, the part of the brain known as the amygdala may have something to do with it, where memories of negative past experiences bring back the fear of a similar incident.

In Conclusion—Thoughts to Consider

Commitment comes more naturally when we make an effort to direct our focus on the positive characteristics of our partner.

The person we are with could very well have their act together and might be the exceptional person we want to live with for the rest of our life. The only way we would know that is to be emotionally available and communicate thoughts and feelings.

When good things exist, and you know in your heart that you have a quality relationship, don’t let minor issues appear to be red flags when they merely create excuses. The only way to avoid that is to get reassurance that things will work out.

That requires communication by discussing your thoughts and expressing how it makes you feel. Once partners openly share their thoughts and receive validation for their feelings, they might be more comfortable with the results.4

When one knows their partner is kind, dependable, and sharing, that could create a definite feeling of joy and comfort. And that’s what is needed to help make a relationship permanent.


  1. Eglantine Julle-Daniere. (Sept 02, 2019). “Communicating Emotions.” Psychology Today
  2. Crystal Raypole. Reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D. (September 30, 2019). “How to Recognize and Get Over Commitment Issues.”
  3. Sarah Lewis, PharmD. (September 29, 2020). “Gamophobia (Fear of Marriage)”
  4. John Amodeo Ph.D. (August 5, 2018). “Why It's OK to Seek Reassurance.” Psychology Today

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.

© 2009 Glenn Stok