“When are you going to settle down?” is a question you’ve likely heard if you’re a bachelor approaching 30 years of age and beyond. It’s a tough question to answer, especially if you’ve noticed you tend to avoid it like the plague. Sure, it’s fine if you don’t feel you’re fully equipped for a serious commitment, but how do you know whether you’re not built for one or you’re just scared? If you are afraid of commitment, how do you get over that fear?
Below, you’ll find 5 ways to help overcome your fear of commitment, as well as some ways to determine if being in a committed relationship is the right choice for you.
1. Address What’s Causing Your Fear
Your fear of commitment could be a symptom of a larger issue. In order to address it head-on, Spike Spencer, a relationship author, neuro-linguistic programing coach and founder of Don’t Kill Your Date, believes you must ask yourself, “What are you really afraid of?”
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Is it getting hurt? Do you fear missing out on other sexual encounters? Do you think spending too much time with one person will inhibit your ability to be successfully at work? “Once you face the fear, call it out and dismiss it,” he says. “You can then choose the right partner you’ll want to have stay by your side.”
2. Examine Previous Relationships
Amanda Szarzynski, PhD and LMFT, believes that it’s crucial to look at past relationships to see how they’re influencing your current mindset. That includes the relationship of those who raised you, too. “Often, someone who was raised in a divorced or highly conflictual household will come away with a desire to either do the opposite of their parents, with a determination to be in a committed, satisfactory relationship, or will allow that experience to inform a mistrust and avoidance of vulnerability and commitment in relationships,” explains Szarzynski.
If you find yourself hesitant to go all in with a relationship, odds are you fall in the latter category. In turn, it’s important to recognize that any dysfunctional relationship you were exposed to growing up does not dictate how your own relationship will turn out. In fact, you can analyze their approach and learn from their mistakes as to not repeat them.
“Past relationship experiences may inform a fear of commitment in a new relationship,” she adds. “If a previous romantic partner has hurt or abandoned us in some way, an attachment injury occurs. Until this attachment injury has healed, it can cause fear and anxiety in intimate relationships.”
It’s never a bad idea to seek someone out, whether a therapist or counselor, to help address and resolve any attachment injuries you feel.
3. Accept That You Might Not Be Ready
Once we reach a certain age, society, by in large, tends to demonize single people. For some reason, they put not having a companion and being miserable in the same category. That’s why those around you, whether your parents or friends, are usually the ones nagging to see when you’re finally going to settle down. But that’s the thing — being in a committed relationship isn’t for everyone. Some men prefer the bachelor lifestyle. Or, conversely, they just aren’t in a rush to settle down. And that’s fine!
“If you aren’t committing because you don’t want to miss out on other possible women, you are not afraid of commitment; you are just not done sowing your wild oats,” says Spencer. “Go have fun until you are ready for commitment. FOMO in a committed relationship is a deep dividing wedge that can surely lead to disaster.”
4. Talk to Your Friends in Committed Relationships
What’s a better way to learn about commitment than from someone who is in a committed relationship? According to Celia Schweyer, a dating and relationship expert at Datingscout.com, chatting with them about all the highs (and inevitable lows) of being partnered up with someone could do you some good. For all you know, it could motivate you to put an end to your single life once and for all.
“Is it really still that cool and desirable?” she asks. “Talk to your now-taken friends about their lives, how it is to be with someone, and make sure that you listen closely. There’s a good chance that you will learn from them that the advantages of being loved far outweigh your little no-strings-attached weekend flings.”
5. Realize You Just Need to Find the Right Person
If a bad relationship has left a sour taste in your mouth, it may not be that you’re not cut out for commitment. In reality, it could just be that you haven’t found the right person for you.
“Sometimes our gut is actually correct in telling us to be afraid of commitment with another person,” explains Szarzynski. “On some level, we know our partner or romantic interest is not right for us, so this fear is based out of justified self-protection.”
At the end of the day, it’s completely fine if you prefer being single. Now, if you’re just pretending you prefer the party life, when in fact, you have a crippling fear of commitment, it’s probably time to do some soul-searching and find out how to conquer it once and for all.
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