Tips on dealing with commitment phobia

Tips on how to deal with your partner if she has commitment phobia

Most of us find being in a relationship relatively easy. Sure there will be a few bumps in the road, but we try and smooth over them as we go along. Unfortunately for someone who suffers with commitment phobia, otherwise known as relationship anxiety, this can be quite difficult to do.

If you are currently in a relationship with a partner who has commitment phobia then you will understand that for them, relationships are a huge challenge. They will be faced every day with a mix of anxiety and fear, and will find staying in a relationship hugely challenging.

Tips for dealing with your partner’s commitment phobia

Make sure it’s not an excuse

While you should be sympathetic to anyone who has a genuine commitment phobia, you owe it to yourself not to suffer fools gladly. There are plenty of people out there claiming to be commitment phobic, when really they are just playing the field. It’s easy for someone to say they have a fear of commitment, when really they are just treating you badly. Genuine sufferers of commitment phobia will display anxiety and caution; they won’t announce their commitment phobia either gleefully or defensively, as they swing past you to the next person.

Why are you together?

Consider what it was that brought you two together. You chose this relationship. What did you fall for? There comes a time in every relationship when you find yourself making plans for the future that involve a lot of negotiation. Remember why it was you got together. You should not be trying to fix each other. Live with what you love – nothing has to change. Nurture your relationship for what it is – warts and all, and appreciate your partner.

Understand more about commitment phobia

Try and read more about commitment phobia and relationship anxiety. Once you have a clear understanding of what’s what, you’ll be in a better position to help your partner and understand where that fear comes from. For example, have they experienced family issues or did their last partner cheat on them?

It’s not about whether he or she loves you or not

Always remember that your partner can experience love just as everyone else can. What they are struggling to deal with, is not their love for you, but the intensity of their fear of having to trust and commit to the relationship. You partner may well desire a long term relationship. They may want marriage and children and a home. Unfortunately, their overwhelming anxiety makes it difficult for them to move forwards.

Don’t judge each other

Never allow your partner to blame you for tension that their feelings cause. You may feel increasingly insecure because they constantly pull away or are unavailable. Take responsibility for your lack of security and your own feelings, but don’t take on what is rightfully theirs’ as this can cause chaos and confusion.

Consider what is acceptable

If you really want marriage and children, then you need to consider what is acceptable to you and what is not. Draw your boundaries. If casual affairs are an out and out no, then you need to make this clear. Ultimatums and threats will not work in this relationship. Consider as well that your partner may well use sabotaging behaviour to end a relationship, therefore by setting boundaries you are giving him or her a line to cross, and they may well choose to do this. If you find their behaviour completely unacceptable, accept that this is not the right person for you and end it. Relationships must encompass love and respect on both sides.

Have a back-up plan for social occasions

While you may have planned an event or night out for some time, your commitment phobic partner may well change their mind at the last minute. Factor this in and make sure you have a back-up plan that you’re happy with. If your expectations are always set to knowing you may be disappointed, you can work towards making the best of things. Don’t rely on your commitment phobic partner to show up and put up, instead make sure there are others you can rely on to be there when you’re out and about. Double dating, group trips to the theatre or cinema, or going with friends to openings and dances are all good ways to keep moving forwards.

Check your own motivation

Are you putting too much pressure on your partner? Do you nag them? Stalk them? Are you creeping them out with too much neediness. Does having a relationship with you comes with no strings attached? Are you non-judgemental? Relationships can only succeed where both parties are easy going and forgiving.

Final thoughts

If you are in a relationship with someone who is commitment phobic, the most important thing to bear in mind is that they need protecting from you as much as you from them. They are extremely vulnerable when they lay bare their soul to you and let you know that they love you but they are struggling with commitment. If you love them truly, you will protect them as well as you protect yourself. Given time and patience, eventually you will both be where you want to be.

Tom VermeerschCreated by Tom Vermeersch Tom Vermeersch is a certified Psychologist and Bach flower expert with more than 30 years of experience.

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