- Commitment Phobia: A Complete Guide Of Need To Knows
- What Is Commitment Phobia?
- What Causes Commitment Phobia?
- What Are Some Common Commitment Phobia Signs?
- You Avoid Serious Relationships
- You Don’t Plan a Future in Your Relationship
- You Spend a Lot of Time Questioning Things
- You Avoid Making Plans
- You Feel Emotionally Unattached
- You Have Certain Speech Habits
- You Feel Trapped
- Following a Script for Failure
- You Don’t Have a Lot of Close Friends
- You Only Focus on Yourself
- How Do I Overcome Commitment Phobia?
- Talk to a Therapist
- Talk Things Out
- Practice, Practice, Practice
- Get Ahead of Commitment Phobia
- Commitment Issues in a Relationship
- Making a Commitment
- Reasons for Commitment Issues in a Relationship
- Fear of Commitment & Mental Health
- Effects of Commitment Issues on Partners
- How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship while Dealing with Commitment Issues…
- What People Get Wrong About Having A Fear Of Commitment, From A Psychologist
- The truth about fearing commitment.
- How to make sense of your fears.
- 1. Ask yourself if you are really afraid of commitment.
- 2. Mindfully consider the concerns that arise.
- 3. Journal—and then journal some more.
- 4. Talk to your partner with love.
- Commitment Issues: Why Some People Have Them and Others Don’t
- Secure and Insecure Attachment
- Insecurity and Commitment Issues
- How You Can Become More Secure
Commitment Phobia: A Complete Guide Of Need To Knows
It’s not uncommon to have difficulty deciding what clothes to wear, what food to eat, or other small choices. However, when you start to have difficulty committing to bigger decisions, there might be something more going on.
Commitment phobia is a common issue that plagues many people and that can cause problems in your relationships, career, and daily life. And, when not properly addressed, it can start to seriously impact your future, too.
If you or a loved one is struggling with commitment phobia, this guide is for you. Let’s take a deep dive into commitment problems, why they happen, and how to know if you’re struggling with them.
What Is Commitment Phobia?
Before we go any deeper into commitment phobia, let’s stop and take a look at what commitment phobia actually is. This condition is actually fairly complex and has a lot of moving parts.
Commitment phobia refers to a general fear of commitment. Typically, this is associated with romantic relationships, but that’s not the only way that commitment phobia can surface. It can also include a fear of committing to a job or a reluctance to have deep friendships.
While there’s nothing wrong with keeping your options open or taking your time to make decisions when it starts to cause harm to others or to sabotage your own wellbeing it’s time to get professional assistance.
What Causes Commitment Phobia?
Now that we have a better understanding of what commitment phobia is, let’s take a look at a few reasons why you might have commitment phobia. The cause will vary from person to person and there may be more than one reason for someone to have commitment phobia.
One common reason why people struggle with commitment is due to trauma and PTSD. People who have had negative relationships or abusive relationships in the past may be less willing to commit to a long-term relationship in the future.
Additionally, childhood experiences can influence how easy it is for someone to commit in the future. When children have parents that are either overbearing or unresponsive, they may grow up to develop issues with emotional dependence.
Finally, our culture may have something to do with the rise of commitment phobia, too. Thanks to technology and recent cultural trends, there are more job and relationship opportunities available to people. The abundance of choices can make it hard for people to commit to one person or workplace.
Interestingly enough, studies have shown that Generation Xers are far less ly to commit to a workplace than Baby Boomers. They are also more ly to leave a workplace than Baby Boomers.
What Are Some Common Commitment Phobia Signs?
Now that we understand what commitment phobia is, let’s talk about a few common signs that you are struggling with this issue. Knowing what typical fear of commitment signs are will help you to determine whether a therapist or counselor could be beneficial to your situation.
You Avoid Serious Relationships
Some people prefer to date casually than to have a serious relationship. This could be for various reasons or it could be for one single reason.
While it’s fine to want to date casually, things start to get hairy if you immediately want the relationship once things start to get serious. This is especially true if you the person that you’re seeing.
You Don’t Plan a Future in Your Relationship
Another sign that you’re struggling with commitment phobia is if you don’t think about a long-term future with your current partner. It’s fine to enjoy the present with your partner, but at some point, you should think about whether or not this is a good long-term fit.
If you find yourself shying away from the thought of a future with your partner or feeling unwilling to think about the next stage, there’s a good chance you’ve got a fear of commitment. This is even more true if this tends to be a pattern of yours.
You Spend a Lot of Time Questioning Things
Whether it’s in a romantic relationship, a friendship, or a job, questioning how things are going is another sign that you might be struggling with commitment phobia. Even if you are enjoying your relationship or job, you find yourself asking questions such as:
- “What’s next?”
- “Am I ready for this?”
- “Does my partner really love me?”
- “Do I want things to succeed?”
It’s normal for you to ask questions from time to time. However, if you find yourself constantly battling with your feelings and these questions, things start to get more serious.
When constant questioning begins to interfere with your job or relationship or to cause emotional upset, it’s a sign that you’re dealing with commitment phobia.
You Avoid Making Plans
Do you have trouble committing to plans for the weekend? Do you find yourself offering up vague responses such as “I’ll let you know” or “let me get back to you” when people invite you to do things?
Or, does thinking about the plans that you have cause you stress? Do you feel as though you want to cancel your plans just to avoid stress and anxiety?
Sometimes we avoid making plans because we’re not actually interested in the person we’re going to spend time with. That’s especially true if you’re holding out for a better option.
However, when you really enjoy spending time with a person and still struggle with anxiety surrounding making plans, something bigger might be going on. With commitment phobia, you may struggle to make plans even though you know you will enjoy them when you get there.
You Feel Emotionally Unattached
If you’re in a strong, healthy relationship that you want to continue, you’re more ly to put in the effort to make the relationship last. When you do so, you demonstrate to your partner that you are committed to the relationship.
This is an important part of reassuring your partner that you want to be with them and that they don’t need to fear losing you. It can relieve feelings of anxiety about the future and help secure your attachment.
However, if you don’t feel emotionally attached to your partner, you probably won’t care a whole lot if you lose them. You’re content living your own life and aren’t bothered by the thought that one day your current partner might not be in it.
Sometimes a lack of emotional connection just means that you and your partner aren’t the best match. However, if you want a long-term relationship but struggle to connect emotionally with your partners, commitment phobia could be to blame.
You Have Certain Speech Habits
One thing that many people with commitment phobia have in common is that they tend to use language that skirts around commitment. They may use certain words more and omit others from their speech completely.
For example, people who are afraid of commitment often avoid terms such as “love.” They also may steer away from labels, preferring to keep things casual and “go with the flow.”
On top of that, commitment-phobes tend to use modifiers. Words such as “probably,” “maybe,” and “might” pepper their speech. While these words might seem innocuous, what they’re actually doing is showing hesitation to commit.
You Feel Trapped
If the idea of getting married or hearing your partner say “I love you” for the first time leaves you squirming in your seat, you might be struggling with a fear of commitment. These types of demonstrations of love should have you feeling secure and happy.
However, if you find yourself feeling trapped, anxious, and backed into a corner, you’re probably scared of commitment. This can cause you to want to try to get the relationship, even if you really love the person and want to be with them.
Following a Script for Failure
When people struggling with commitment phobia start a new relationship, they usually do so with the preconception that the relationship will fail. They don’t plan on the relationship working out but instead assume that things will fail right off the bat.
What that means most of the time is that the relationship ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because the person doesn’t expect the relationship to work out, they end up self-sabotaging their chances with someone they really love.
You Don’t Have a Lot of Close Friends
While we often tie commitment phobia to romantic relationships, the reality is that this issue can rear its head in friendships and business relationships too. When you struggle with commitment phobia, it can be tough for you to form deep, meaningful relationships with others. Instead, you might have small social groups or superficial relationships.
On top of that, if you don’t have a long romantic history, there could be a chance that you’re not ready to commit. A fling here and there isn’t a red flag, but if you’ve never had a serious relationship, you might want to examine whether or not this is due to a fear of committing.
You Only Focus on Yourself
Part of having a healthy relationship means making sacrifices from time to time. These could be sacrifices that benefit your partner or sacrifices that benefit the relationship as a whole.
However, if you find it hard to put your partner first or to use words such as “we” and “us,” you may have a commitment phobia. You might find that you are running away from making a long-term commitment to the future of your relationship and so are instead using self-centered behavior.
How Do I Overcome Commitment Phobia?
If the above signs of commitment phobia seem to describe your situation all too well, you’re probably dealing with commitment phobia. While this can seem a scary place to be, there are plenty of options available to you for overcoming your struggles.
Talk to a Therapist
Whether you choose to commit to individual counseling sessions or couples counseling sessions, speaking with a therapist can work wonders. It’s a great place for you to look within yourself and see why commitment is such a struggle for you.
In an individual therapy session, you may look at childhood traumas, attachment styles, and other factors that could be affecting your ability to commit. In couples therapy, you and your partner can learn to navigate the challenges of commitment phobia and to build a stronger connection.
Talk Things Out
One of the simplest yet most effective ways to overcome commitment phobia is to simply be honest with yourself and with your partner. By putting a name to your fear, you can learn to feel better about what’s going on and to address what might be causing your issues.
When talking with your partner, be sure to be specific. Let them know what it is that causes you so much anxiety and why you are so afraid of committing to anything serious.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Just you’d practice playing an instrument that you want to get better at, practicing commitment can help you to improve at that, too. When you develop a habit of committing to small things, it will start to feel more natural to commit to more long-term habits.
Start by taking baby steps. Commit to Friday night dates or to other small activities that can help you slowly adjust to making larger, more serious commitments.
Get Ahead of Commitment Phobia
With this comprehensive guide, it’s easy to understand whether or not commitment phobia is an issue for you or a loved one. And, if it is, you need to get treatment so that you can lead a healthy and balanced life again.
Luckily, the team at Makin Wellness can help. Get in touch with us and we’ll help you find a therapist who can help you overcome your struggles with commitment.
Commitment Issues in a Relationship
“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”
– Peter F. Drucker
When we talk about the word commitment it is generally associated with strong feelings of adoration that creates dedication and devotion.
A commitment might be connected to an activity, hobby, a work meeting, or even a social function.
Emotionally speaking, a commitment between two intimately involved people can become a much more complicated type of commitment, especially when both parties are not willing to commit.
Making a Commitment
When two people are in a committed relationship it usually hints at the seriousness and exclusivity factor of the partnership.
Whether the two people are exclusively dating, domestic partners, engaged, or married, commitment can universally speak out as a form of public dedication to one another.
Below are the following ways in which two people may show or prove their commitment to one another:
- Exclusively dating
- One person may ask the other person to be their boyfriend or girlfriend
- Also known as “going steady”
- Domestic Partners
- When two people join together in a lifestyle that involves living together in the same residence
- These people are typically in an exclusive relationship with one another, but are not legally bound by marriage
- Formally asking your partner to get married in the near future
- Often times is coupled with the presentation of a piece of commitment jewelry, such as an engagement ring, to signify to the public that they are “taken”
- The formal union of two people
- Typically celebrated with a ceremony and reception before family and friends or in front of a court setting
- Both partners will usually exchange wedding vows and wedding rings to publicize their union
Reasons for Commitment Issues in a Relationship
As we all know, relationships are not easy. It takes hard work and dedication in order to have a successful partnership. Issues can arise at the beginning, middle, or end of a relationship. One of these issues can be that of commitment; which can come up at different points throughout the relationship as well.
We usually think of a commitment being commenced at the start of a relationship. Although this can be true, many times uneasiness about a commitment in the beginning can become a constant issue and concern throughout the relationship.
Reasons why people may have trouble making a commitment to their significant other might include:
- Parent’s divorce
- Hard time overcoming the trauma of a broken family can make a person fearful commitment and making the same mistakes as their parents
- Past relationships
- Previous relationships can leave a lasting impression, especially if they did not end well
- Sometimes a person may not feel ready to commit if they are not fully over their ex
- Being able to trust another person with their level of commitment is a risk when you are entering a new relationship
- Uncertainty about trusting another person, or even yourself, can influence the ability to want to commit
- Of the relationship not working out
- Losing independent lifestyle
- Attachment issues
- The way in which you connect and attach to a person may create anxiety about wanting to commit in the first place
- 4 types of attachment styles
- Secure attachment
- Feelings of ease and safety in a relationship that provides oneself with both independence and dependence in a relationship
- Anxious-preoccupied attachment
- Feelings of anxiety within the relationship which cause people to constantly seek more from their partners which ultimately drives them further away
- Dismissive-avoidant attachment
- Physically distancing oneself from your partner in order to seek more independence can create a barrier and passiveness within the relationship
- Fearful-avoidant attachment
- Uncertainty about what a person wants from the relationship; the person tends to be indecisive about wanting to be too close or too distant from their partner
- Secure attachment
- Not wanting to settle down
- Living the bachelor life can have its perks and some people are not willing to give that up
- The fear of losing the life they know and are comfortable with
Fear of Commitment & Mental Health
There can be long term effects with regard to having a fear of commitment. These effects can impact one’s mental health especially if the commitment issues stem from past experiences such as their parent’s divorce or traumatic past relationships. People who have long standing commitment issues may end up suffering from any of the following mental health concerns:
- Mood disorders
- Eating Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
It is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know might be suffering from any of the above mental health issues.
Effects of Commitment Issues on Partners
It is evident that commitment issues can have it’s string of issues for the person having trouble committing. However, it can also have its own set of issues on the other side — for the person wanting the commitment. If one person in the relationship wants commitment from their partner but is not receiving it, they can experience feelings of:
- Sadness and depression
- Worry and concern about the future of the relationship
- Insecurity if they are doing something wrong within the relationship
- Fear of talking too much about it, as it may create more distance
How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship while Dealing with Commitment Issues…
It is important to work on the relationship even among commitment issues. If both partners are willing to participate in the relationship, it shows that there is hope. Try out some of the following tips for maintaining and improving a relationship status:
- Remain open and honest about your hopes and desires for the relationship
- Remain positive and hopeful about the relationship
- Listen to your partner’s worries and concerns
- Try finding some compromise so everyone feels comfortable within the relationship
- Talk to close friends and family for support, but do not publicize the commitment issues as this could create more distance and distrust within the relationship
- Seek professional help
- Couples counseling therapy
- Individual therapy
What People Get Wrong About Having A Fear Of Commitment, From A Psychologist
If you or someone in your life is suffering from commitment issues, it's time to dig deeper. Is a true «commitment phobia» the issue, or is something else—such as the sneaking suspicion that you've not found the right partner—driving the fear of commitment?
The truth about fearing commitment.
Making a romantic commitment is, for the seriously inclined, a major life step. Those who take commitment seriously often have a natural and appropriate fear of commitment because they take their responsibilities seriously.
Whether a person is interested in forming a long-term relationship, getting married, or having kids together, the word commitment is big because it symbolizes big—truly enormous—responsibility.
For those who are genuinely interested in pursuing a heartfelt relationship, commitment brings up images of sharing all of life, the good and the not-so-good, «until death do us part.» This is no small issue, particularly if finances, living circumstances, and others' lives (e.g.
, children, friends, family, and pets) are involved. Deep love, vulnerability, and personal responsibility are part and parcel of being truly committed.
On the other hand, if a person is fairly irresponsible and enters into relationships lightly, a fear of committing may never arise. When relationship irresponsibility is high and an authentic sense of commitment is low, romantic relationships tend to be seen as disposable.
As a result, individuals in this category often take such a blithe approach to relationships and «commitment» that fear never arises.
In short, if you're not really committed, you've consciously or unconsciously told yourself that you've nothing to fear because you've not «risked» your heart.
How to make sense of your fears.
To understand whether it's commitment phobia or something else that's at work in your world, try the following steps. You'll discover a great deal about your level of commitment—and why a phobia might exist:
1. Ask yourself if you are really afraid of commitment.
By definition, a phobia is a persistent exaggerated or illogical fear. A phobia, which is a form of anxiousness, may affect an individual in significant ways. In fact, certain phobias can affect an individual's daily life—be it relationships, work, or social situations. When a phobia is significant, it can have negative, life-altering consequences.
Sometimes a «commitment phobia» is actually one or more valid concerns about the health or suitability of a relationship. Now ask yourself a simple, direct question: Am I truly afraid of commitment, or is another underlying issue is at work?
Don't judge yourself as you ponder your answer. Simply strive to reflect on the distinction between the two issues—a commitment phobia and any number of other valid concerns about the relationship—that may have surfaced as a result of your self-reflection. Take the time to write a few paragraphs about whatever comes to mind.
2. Mindfully consider the concerns that arise.
Commitment—and all that it encompasses—is a very personal issue. As you explore your notations with self-compassion, be curious about your responses. Ask yourself questions. If you are truly afraid of commitment, ask yourself why. Do you have an insecure attachment style? Did a former lover betray you? Are you naturally slow to trust and commit?
However, if you realize you are actually not afraid of commitment but have other concerns—such as a load of red flags about your partner—delve into your concerns rather than avoiding them.
3. Journal—and then journal some more.
Journaling is a wonderful way to engage in mindful self-reflection. Use journaling to explore your thoughts and feelings in a free-association sort of way. Don't filter your questions and responses; allow your emotional world plenty of space to come through. As you engage in journaling, you allow your inner world—the wise, unconscious mind—to give you important messages.
4. Talk to your partner with love.
No matter the results of your journaling and processing—whether you decide you're suffering from true commitment phobia, or you have other vital issues to explore—the next step is to talk with your partner.
Set aside quiet time when both you and your partner can focus on the important topic of commitment. No matter what the issues may be, it's important to share them with your partner in a loving, respectful way.
For example, if you are suffering from a trauma that makes you fearful of commitment, let your partner know that you need healing work around this issue. As another example, if your fear of commitment stems from the understandable concern that your life will change in important ways once you commit, it's vital to share your fears with your partner.
On the other hand, if you realize that your relationship is a no-go or that you have valid concerns to address before committing, it's important to share such issues honestly and openly.
When we decide to commit to a romantic partner, it's important for us to remember that it's not just our own lives that will change.
A commitment affects a partner's life as well as all the people in the couple's intersecting worlds.
Being committed to another person is one of the most significant joys and responsibilities of life, so it's truly wise to mindfully slow down to sort through any and all fears that arise.
If you're feeling fearful of commitment, use your fears as messengers to help you make a decision that will be best for you, your partner, and your relationship. We get the most whatever we put our heart and soul into, and this truth is most apparent in our romantic relationships.
Commitment Issues: Why Some People Have Them and Others Don’t
Adam is smart, talented and attractive. He’s successful in business and has an exciting lifestyle. He’s a winner, everyone agrees…except his ex-girlfriends. Any one of them can tell a story about Adam that includes disappointment or betrayal. Adam is not malicious. anyone else, he wants intimacy… but only so much.
If things get too close and personal with a woman, he’ll do something to provoke distance, not call when he said he would, or pick a fight. He s to keep things a little up in the air, and has avoided marriage. Sometimes, under certain stresses, especially if the object of his affection is unavailable, Adam will get needy and possessive.
But once his partner is safely, uncomfortably, available again, he can’t help but push her away.
Sophia tries hard to nail things down. Her whole existence feels a hunt for “happily-ever-after.” If she’s not in a relationship for a while, her yearning for intimacy feels so urgent that she doesn’t discern new partners very carefully. As soon as things heat up with a new man, she’s all in.
She tends to cling, fears losing her new love, and gets quietly controlling. She feels very enchanted with the idea of marriage, but has interestingly evaded it. She tries to play things cool when dating, letting the man dictate the pace, but underneath she obsesses.
She quickly jumps to the worst-case scenario when small conflicts arise. Even though she is very high functioning in her career as a teacher, she never seems to feel a grown-up in relationships. Occasionally, when a partner seems more “needy” than she is, Sophia shuts down and wants to get far away from him.
She’s got a lot of exes too, and they would ly tell you that Sophia is “high maintenance.”
On the surface, Adam and Sophia have very different behaviors. Usually, Sophia looks someone who REALLY wants a relationship, and Adam looks someone who really doesn’t. The truth is, they both want intimacy, but each of them experiences distress in intimate relationships. They both have “commitment issues.”
Most people know someone with commitment issues, and it can be frustrating to watch them flounder around, with conflict and drama often in their wake. But people Adam and Sophia don’t struggle with commitment by choice.
The attachment styles they developed early in their lives play a part in how they participate in relationships. Struggling with relationship commitment can be a sign of insecure attachment.
Through no fault of their own, both Adam and Sophia have insecure attachment styles.
Secure and Insecure Attachment
Attachment Theory, as first coined by British psychologist, John Bowlby, “states that a strong emotional and physical attachment to at least one primary caregiver is critical to personal development”(“How Your Infant Attachments Can Affect You In Later Life”, 2017).
Through Bowlby’s work and Mary Ainsworth’s research in the 1950s and 60s, three basic types of attachment behavior in infants were identified: secure, anxious, and avoidant.
In the 1980s, psychologists Phil Shaver and Cindy Hazan pioneered studies to learn about attachment theory as it related to adult relationships. Their research informed what continues to be a thriving field: adult attachment.
It is widely accepted that the attachment styles children adopt early in life, through a variety of factors including their parents’ responsiveness to their emotional needs (or lack thereof), genetics, life experiences, and personal temperament, remain intact throughout adulthood. We bring these attachment styles to our romantic relationships, for better or worse.
Read What is Your Attachment Style?
In truth, people are complex and cannot be pigeonholed into any one category or type, but they will gravitate to one attachment style or another, their early attachment patterns.
While no parent is perfect, and all children suffer hurts in the process of growing up, some children are injured more than others by misattunement, neglect or abuse on the part of care-givers, and they develop insecure attachment patterns that stay with them.
According to Shaver and Hazan’s research in adult attachment, about 60% of the population functions with secure attachment in their relationships. Studies show that secure people report feeling higher levels of satisfaction in their relationships than people with insecure attachment.
Secure individuals are generally reliable and consistent, have flexible views of relationships, are not afraid of commitment or dependency, and express feelings naturally (Levine & Heller, 2014). Relationships are not always as smooth for people with anxious or avoidant attachment styles.
Sophia’s behavior in relationships is indicative of her anxious (also called “preoccupied”) attachment style. Men and women with this style have a “super-sensitive attachment system” (Levine & Heller, 2014).
They experience “chronic fear of rejection and doubts about the ultimate availability of and support from attachment figures” (Tran & Simpson 2009). This hyper-vigilance and insatiable desire for security often result in distressed and self-defeating behavior in relationships.
For example, if a partner says or does something that signals ambiguity, the anxious person may react with a disproportionate level of anger or hostility in an attempt to coerce reassurance (Tran & Simpson, 2009). Often, such reactions cause conflict and instability that leads to relationship decline.
Children with anxious attachment often have experienced inconsistent parenting; sometimes they were responded to appropriately, and other times parents were intrusive or insensitive. The child doesn’t know what to expect and ends up distrustful yet clingy at the same time.
It is interesting to note that someone who usually functions as anxiously attached in relationships can display avoidant behavior if involved with someone who is more anxious, clingy or demanding than they are (Karen, 1998).
People with avoidant attachment behavior, Adam, are “dismissive” and rely on distancing strategies to limit intimacy. They may have rigid boundaries in relationships and fear losing autonomy or being taken advantage of.
In the book Attachment in Adulthood, Mikulincer and Shaver cite a study that revealed negative expectations about relationships in the minds of avoidant people: “Avoidant people enter new relationships with detailed scripts for commitment aversion and expectations of relationship failure…” (2016).
Avoidant people find it more difficult to fall in love and may reject the “myth” of romantic love altogether. Studies show that avoidant attachment in children is often the result of emotionally unavailable or insensitive caregivers.
Even a parent who is physically very present, but is motivated by a narcissistic need to be needed can register as intrusive and, therefore, not attuned to the child. The child learns that his or her emotional needs will not be met and so essentially gives up on reaching for others when in emotional distress.
In a 2009 journal article, SiSi Tran and Jeffrey Simpson write that the attachment “deactivating” behavior of highly avoidant individuals is a defense against “reminders of their futile efforts to solicit care and support” in early life.
In spite of these efforts to stay autonomous, avoidant people can flip to the anxious side of the equation, showing the insecurity underneath their defenses. They “often experience distress when their partners are not available or are unsupportive, particularly in stressful situations” (Tran & Simpson, 2009).
Insecurity and Commitment Issues
The bottom line is that attachment insecurity manifests itself as anxiety and/or avoidance, and insecure people can have a host of challenges in intimate relationships. Whereas secure people tend to navigate their needs for both closeness and independence with relative ease, insecure people find the balance hard to strike.
Anxiously attached people seek closeness to the point that it is uncomfortable for their partners, and avoidant people can mistake their partners’ appropriate caring for intrusiveness and then react critically.
Problems these are obstacles to relationship satisfaction and naturally have a negative impact on the long-term commitment potential of a relationship. In addition, studies show that attachment insecurity is associated with people being less engaged in “relationship maintenance behaviors.
” The willingness to make appropriate sacrifices for the sake of the relationship is also disturbed by attachment insecurities. Avoidant attachment was linked with fewer sacrifices for partners’ well being, while anxious attachment was associated with more self-serving sacrifices.
The pithy conclusion of one analysis reflects what we might guess about the plights of Adam and Sophia: “Anxious people’s lack of commitment stems from disappointment, pain and frustration, whereas avoidant people’s lack of commitment stems from unwillingness to invest in a long-term relationship” (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2016).
It’s not hard to see how insecurely attached people may be unable to experience the satisfaction of long-term commitment, due to these once-protective but ultimately defensive factors. There is hope for those of us who did not inherit a secure attachment style, however.
How You Can Become More Secure
Whether you yourself have commitment issues, or someone you care about does, it is important to know that there are ways to become more secure, and therefore, more capable of being in a committed relationship, if desired. Here are some proven ways to become more secure:
Drs. Daniel Siegel and Lisa Firestone are strong proponents of the coherent narrative. This is a process of writing about childhood experiences, in order to make connections to current behavior.
Writing a coherent narrative is a tool that can literally rewire the brain and help people develop a more secure attachment style. This article outlines the process and links to an e-Course led by Drs.
Firestone and Siegel that walks participants through the process of writing a coherent narrative.
Meditation or Spiritual Practice
In this Webinar called “Secure and Insecure Love: an Attachment Perspective,” Dr. Phil Shaver discusses the challenges of insecure attachment in adult love and points to new research on enhancing attachment security.
He cites studies that show meditation increases the qualities of secure attachment in meditators, and he predicts that the fields of mindfulness and attachment theory will begin to intersect more in the future.
This page links to articles and videos that can provide guidance for beginning a mindfulness practice.
For many people, a spiritual or religious practice brings serenity and peace to their daily lives. A 12-step recovery program can also provide a base of stability and caring that can impact an individual’s sense of security. There is even a recovery program for couples that wish to enhance their commitment and intimacy.
Earned Security through Therapy or Relationship
The right relationship can also help us to earn a more secure attachment style. According to Dr. Lisa Firestone, “One of the proven ways to change our attachment style is by forming an attachment with someone who had a more secure attachment style than what we’ve experienced.
We can also talk to a therapist, as the therapeutic relationship can help create a more secure attachment. We can continue to get to know ourselves through understanding our past experiences, allowing ourselves to make sense and feel the full pain of our stories, then moving forward as separate, differentiated adults.
In doing this, we move through the world with an internal sense of security that helps us better withstand the natural hurts that life can bring.”
A good therapist can help us understand and heal the unmet needs of our past, which can have a positive impact on our behavior in current relationships. This article by Dr.
Lisa Firestone discusses her therapy practice as well as the practice of her father, Dr. Robert Firestone. She describes the therapeutic relationship and what the optimal therapist/client relationship would feel and look .
This page is full of resources and tips for finding a therapist.
The book Fear of Intimacy by Dr. Robert Firestone and Joyce Catlett is the product of some 40 years of clinical experience helping people to understand and undo the defenses that keep them from giving and receiving love in healthy relationships.
No matter what kind of early parenting we had, and what kind of relationship messes we have made up to this point, it is possible to grow and develop. By making a choice to see and accept our current liabilities, we can reach for new tools.
We can come to understand ourselves and have some compassion for our challenges. And even if we have a long history of being anxious or avoidant, we can become more secure.
With willingness and honesty, people can work to overcome commitment issues, and they can go on to have rewarding, committed relationships.
Firestone, L. (2017). What is Your Attachment Style?. PsychAlive. Retrieved 30 March 2017, from https://www.psychalive.org/what-is-your-attachment-style/
Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1994). Attachment as an Organizational Framework for Research on Close Relationships. Psychological Inquiry, 5(1), 1-22. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327965pli0501_1
How Your Infant Attachments Can Affect You In Later Life. (2017). Psychologistworld.com. Retrieved 29 March 2017, from https://www.psychologistworld.com/developmental/attachment-theory.php
Karen, R. (1998). Becoming attached (1st ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Levine, A., & Heller, R. (2014). Attached (1st ed.). New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher.
Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. (2016). Attachment in adulthood (2nd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.
Tran, S., & Simpson, J. (2009). Prorelationship maintenance behaviors: The joint roles of attachment and commitment. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 97(4), 685-698. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0016418
adult attachment, attachment, attachment patterns, attachment style, commitment, fear of intimacy, intimacy, intimacy problems, relationship attachment, relationship issues, relationship problems, relationships