6 Signs You're Afraid Of Commitment, Even If You Really Like Someone
Someone just asked me if I could hang out on Friday night and it took me two hours to reply to the text. I don't have any plans on Friday. I like the person who asked me to hang out on Friday. I would love to see this person on Friday, but alas, I can't commit. I am indecisive, and even in this microcosm of an example, my greater commitment-phobia is on display. It's 11 p.m., do you know where the signs you're afraid of commitment are?
Because they are probably lurking in a dark alleyway of your subconscious, smoking cigarettes, and ready to sabotage your next relationship! Wow, that's dark! But it's also how I feel about my owns fear around commitment. They have lurked in the back of my mind, unnoticed until recently.
I used to think that my relationships failed because I was unlovable, or because people got to know me well enough at a certain point and said "BYE FOREVER!" because I'm scary. Years of therapy, working through feelings, a major loss, and honestly, starting a podcast that has forced me to go on 28 dates so far has turned that story I tell myself around. I finally decided to believe my therapist and accept that no, I am not unlovable, but I am terrified of intimacy. (It's taking everything for me to not backspace that last sentence right now! Vulnerability is hard!)
I have always had close friendships, and I had a supremely happy childhood shaped by my lovely parents, but somewhere along the way, whether it was ballet class or my first crush's rejection, I decided that everyone was judging me and my body for the worse and no one would like me, and so I struggled to commit to relationships. Wowza! Did I scare you off yet?
The funny thing was, I often really liked the people I had trouble committing to. But I'd end up going after relationships I knew had a rapidly approaching end date, or that I knew wouldn't have the pressures of turning serious. I spoke to Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent relationship expert in Los Angeles who works with singles and couples, to get clear on what the signs you might be afraid of commitment look like in reality.
1. You Stick To Hookups
Are you super comfortable making out naked in a bed with Josh, but horrified when he asks you to grab breakfast the next morning? Or worse, to go see a movie on Friday? A pretty obvious sign that you're afraid of commitment is if "you avoid altogether and only engage in casual hookups," says Dr. Brown. Makes perfect sense. If it's not just a post-breakup phase, you might be avoiding something.
2. Your Friends Notice It
You are probably exhibiting a pattern of commitment-phobia if "you find that your friends are asking, 'He (or she) was a great match for you? Why did you let her go?," says Dr. Brown. And if you do notice that you tend to veer away from commitment and want to change that habit, "it's probably a good time to talk to family and friends about their perspectives on why this may be," adds Dr. Brown.
3. You Smack Talk Relationships
This may sound silly, but if "you spend your time trying to justify why relationships aren't good" you're probably afraid of them, says Dr. Brown. It's the ultimate form of negging: you're negging commitment, and maybe that's because you actually want it.
4. You Pick The Wrong People
*Raises both hands.* A huge red flag that you are afraid of commitment is if "you keep on picking the really hot looking bad-boys who are safe because you secretly know that they aren't a good long-term partner," explains Dr. Brown. Although I don't always go for the stereotypical "hot-looking bad boys," I do choose unavailable men. It's my favorite way to avoid relationships, because it allows me to put all of the blame on myself and how I wasn't enough! #Healthy.
5. You Can't Commit In Other Areas Of Life
If you're afraid of committing to relationships in general, "you may also have fears about making commitments in other areas of your life," says Dr. Brown. If you're simply having trouble committing to one person or one relationship, you're probably not afraid of commitment in the general sense, he explains. But if you struggle to commit to other things like a new job or a cross-country move, you may just generally be afraid of change. "You are so used to being single that you won't give up some of the benefits of being single," explains Dr. Brown.
6. You Have A Fear Of Abandonment
This is a big one. Often, we don't even realize that we have a fear of abandonment, but this fear can freeze your ability to be emotionally involved with someone, even if you like them very much, says Dr. Brown. Whether "your heart has been so broken one or more times," or you fear having a troubled marriage like your parents had, there are many reasons we might be afraid to open up to a romantic relationship, explains Dr. Brown.
"Unconsciously you fear the very thing you want — a strong desire to have a deep emotional connection with someone," says Dr. Brown. "You have an unconscious fear of being open and vulnerable, which is really the cornerstone of any true intimate relationship."
If this sounds familiar to you, Dr. Brown recommends speaking to a therapist specializing in relationships. And as one who is experienced both in commitment fears and therapy, I recommend seeking someone out as well.