Commitment is needed in all relationships, including friendships, romantic, and work. Commitment is the state and behavior of being dedicated to a person, activity, purpose, or cause and initiating the steps to get there. Throughout this blog, the word commitment focuses on all types of relationships, not just intimate ones. For some, it may be difficult having a healthy commitment, and for others, it can be exciting – either way, it requires work. “Work” doesn’t necessarily mean complicated; it means focusing on establishing healthy habits, healing past wounds, and creating healthy boundaries to commit positively. But when an individual is unaware of their inability to commit or exhibits patterns of lacking consistency, the person should take a deeper look into why one cannot commit. Commitment is not a natural action we are born with; it is a learned behavior.
Let’s understand why some people find it challenging to commit.
The concept of a long-term commitment isn’t for everyone. Commitment issues are also known as relationship anxiety or commitment phobias. Recent studies show that marriage (the utmost commitment in a romantic relationship) is declining. According to National Review, the National Center for Health Statistics show that in 2020, the United States showed the lowest record in over 50 years of marriages. It dropped 16.8% from 2019. But why?
Fear is a huge barrier preventing an individual from committing – fear of abandonment and failure—peer pressure, and unhealthy relationships with family and friends. In romantic relationships, the fear of abandonment is most common. It is a type of anxiety that people feel they will lose someone they love. It is often the result of abandonment issues stemming from one’s childhood or past traumatic experience. It is a maladaptive fear of being hurt, neglected, abused, rejected, and deserted. Healing from these past wounds will enable a person to create healthy patterns and types of commitments without fear of harming the relationship or causing toxicity. The uncomfortable negative feelings of fear make it almost impossible for someone even to want to commit. It manifests into avoidance and feeling safe alone instead of healing and living a fruitful life with others. Some examples of defense mechanisms to prevent committing are:
- Inability to be vulnerable
- Emotionally unavailable
- Unable to accept rejection
- Anxiety before a relationship can grow
- Overly guarded
- Insecure and low self-esteem
- Pushing people away
The extreme inability to commit to a romantic relationship can become so intense. It will negatively affect all long-term relationships and manifest in anxiety and, phobia, Gamophobia. At this point, mental health providers can help evaluate an individual for a proper diagnosis based on physical symptoms, behaviors, past experiences and relationships, and possible other phobias.
FOMO – fear of missing out! It can play a role in friendships, intimate relationships, and even committing to a job or activity. Indecisiveness is the main component in FOMO that makes it difficult to commit. A person can feel they are missing out on something or someone better. They may feel the status quo; however, their mindset says they are restricting their chances of something or someone better, even though it may not be present. A person dating on dating apps may emotionally and physically connect with one person. But there are many choices of people to connect with. Sometimes people become serial daters because they think the next person may be better. Instead of getting to know someone profoundly, they move on to the next pick and irrationally think there may be this immediate connection. In friendships, there may be that person who bounces from one friend circle to the next, always looking for the next good time. Committing to a career is a specific step in a direction while eliminating other options that might be better. Feeling they are missing out on a better opportunity can be terrifying.
Fear of failure is when an individual avoids situations where they can see a risk of failure, like a job interview, exam, sporting games, performances, and other intimidating or challenging events. It is also presented in being afraid of a failed relationship, failed career, or disappointing a meaningful person in one’s life. It is demonstrated in such scenarios when someone refuses to take an exam, refuses to go on a job interview, or is a no-show for a game or performance. The result often is detrimental, such as failing the class, being kicked off a team, or losing a job or the opportunity of a job. When fear of failure negatively impacts one’s life, it will lead to a broad range of emotional issues, including depression, anxiety, panic attacks, shame, guilt, and low self-esteem. When these symptoms arise, with a proper evaluation from a mental health clinician, it can manifest into a phobia, atychiphobia.
If this blog resonates with you thus far, you should take a deeper look at the relationships in your life. You can overcome these issues, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It is intentional work with patience. The work will involve getting to the root of the problems and healing those wounds. First and foremost, be honest with yourself. You cannot begin your healing journey without acceptance. Remember that you cannot achieve your personal or professional goals without commitment. Be ready to leave your comfort zone to achieve the success you want.
- Acknowledge the areas of your life that lack commitment. Identify what you really want: a relationship, a new job, healthy friendships, and family relationships.
- Admit to your fears of commitment, what you feel, and what makes you anxious, scared, or causing your defense mechanisms to take over.
- Reflect on moments in your life when you may have felt abandoned, disappointed, neglected, betrayed, or ashamed. Take a deeper look into your childhood. You may not like the emotions you may feel but know it will help you reach your goals and heal yourself.
- It would be time to understand your attachment style in relationships. Your attachment style will clearly define how you commit to relationships.
- Practice mindfulness and self-awareness.
- As you tackle each one of these tips, it is best to couple them with individual psychotherapy from a licensed mental health clinician. Your clinician will guide and support you to dive deeper into the root of the issues and create a treatment plan using specific therapeutic modalities, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), to help you overcome the challenges you face with commitment.
The bottom line commitment is tricky. Many factors contribute to the problem vary from person to person. Commitment issues make things difficult but possible. You need some self-healing, a little extra work, a support system, and honest communication.