You’ve probably heard of commitment phobia before. You’ve heard of people who have issues planning anything in relationships because they might stick with that person forever.
This fear can extend to other parts of life as well. It can influence your choice regarding the job you take, the relationships you stay in, and even friendships.
Because of that, many people tend to go for things that aren’t long-lasting. But sometimes people fight this because society makes them believe that commitment is the only thing they should go for.
Fear of commitment has become even more widely spread since the rise of the internet and social media. People now know there are so many other options out there other than starting a relationship at a young age, and staying with that person forever seems like a waste.
Because there are plenty more fish in the sea, why should they settle down and commit to one person?
Yes, this probably sounds like an awful thing, but when you understand commitment phobia, it’ll all be much clearer to you. You, yourself, might be a commitment-phobe without even knowing it.
Many things can contribute to the onset of this phobia, most of which due to negative childhood experiences. If you’ve had a parent leave at an early age, you might have internalized that trauma.
There’s nothing wrong with casual dating, let me tell you that. But the difference is in the reasons behind it. Is your reason commitment phobia? Or do you believe that your partner is the one with this issue?
12 signs of commitment phobia
When you’re in a long-term relationship, you may think that automatically means you don’t have commitment phobia. It just seems unreal to be together for years and then find out that you don’t really want a future with someone.
But you might want to look into these signs and keep an eye out – you might learn something new about yourself or your partner. Things aren’t always the way they seem and you need to make sure before you start a life together.
There are signs that you can see instantly, while others need some time to come to the surface. Whatever the case, take your time in figuring this out because it might help you understand yourself and/or your partner better.
1. You’re never making plans for the future
The future seems like something far away for people who suffer from commitment phobia. You take things from one day to the next without an actual need to plan anything in advance.
For example, if you want to go out on a date with someone, you won’t plan it weeks in advance. The other person needs to be free in the next couple of days (or even that same day).
You simply don’t feel comfortable waiting for them to figure things out or be free.
And when you’re in a relationship with someone, planning things like marriage or a trip months in advance seems like the worst idea imaginable. You could change your mind millions of times by then, so committing to that idea is simply too risky.
Believe it or not, most people don’t have this issue. There are many out there who don’t mind planning things in advance. They love to know what’s going to happen in the future and enjoy planning for it.
People who suffer from this fear usually don’t think that they’re going to change their mind too quickly and that they’ll disappoint someone because of it.
Instead of planning, they like to go with the flow according to their current emotional state.
2. You’ve never had a serious relationship
I guess it depends on what you consider to be a serious relationship. Is it a relationship that lasts for years or one where you’re able to talk about marriage on the first few dates?
That’s really up to your own definition of it. But people with commitment phobia aren’t able to stay in a serious relationship.
When you meet someone and they tell you that all of their previous relationships lasted a few months, in your gut you know they’re not going to last long with you either.
You’ll meet someone and think that you can change them, but deep down, you know it’s not true.
As stated before, there’s nothing wrong with dating casually. But when you start an actual relationship, you want it to last, so you spend a lot of time and effort on this other person.
Sometimes, though, people don’t know how to stay. Things get too serious and they feel like they’re suffocating.
Anxiety washes over them to the point where they feel like they’ll drown if they don’t get out of there pronto.
This is probably the most common sign that a person has commitment phobia and you’ll be able to find it out by just asking yourself or your partner a couple of questions.
3. You get into relationships knowing they won’t last
You set yourself up for failure before you even begin a relationship. There are so many flaws you see in your partner or yourself that it simply doesn’t seem right to stay in the relationship for a longer period of time.
Usually what happens is that people enter a relationship with intention. They date to meet someone they’ll genuinely vibe with and fall in love with.
Your friends always talk about the people they meet, how they plan each date, and how they even plan for the future within the first few months of the relationship.
For those suffering from commitment issues, that’s not a possibility. They know that their relationship will fail sooner or later. They’re only sticking around because they’re hoping something might change or they genuinely like the person.
If you are afraid of commitment, you’ll know what I mean. It’s when you think to yourself: “Well, it’s going to be awful breaking their heart when the time comes.”
Subconsciously you feel guilty for it already. Still, you know that breaking up with them will be inevitable – and that it’s better to do it than to stay in a committed relationship.
4. You don’t take initiative
Commitment phobia doesn’t let you make the first step. For people who suffer from this fear, taking the initiative is quite scary. It’s mostly their partner making the decisions and saying when and what should be done.
For example, if in your relationship your partner is the one with this phobia, they won’t strike up a conversation about a vacation.
If anything, they’ll wait around for you to make all the decisions and plan everything out, then they’ll just go along with what you want.
This also means that they will never text or call you first. When you’ve just met someone you’re into, they’re the only person you want to talk to.
You want to show them that you’re interested and that you want to talk to them. But after a few times of you texting first, you feel like you’re bothering them.
What you don’t know is that texting first is a huge step for someone with a fear of commitment. People genuinely believe that you’ll get too attached if they take the initiative and text you first a couple of times in a row.
For someone suffering from commitment phobia, it can be a very anxious endeavor. They simply don’t want to go through that.
5. You spend a lot of time questioning the relationship
There are so many other people in this world, do you truly believe that this is the one for you? Sometimes, people simply can’t get past that question, however trivial it might seem.
At one point or another (sometimes before the relationship is even official), you will question the relationship.
You’ll start questioning if this person is right for you, if you should be with them at all, and whether life would be better if you were single.
This is not to say that people who suffer from commitment phobia stay in a relationship for a longer period of time, even when they know they don’t want to be there.
If you suffer from this issue, you’ll always question if this is the love you deserve. You even question if they actually love you at all or if it’s just for show.
This happens because of your own nagging feelings – because things shouldn’t feel this awful. You think that love should be effortless, but your mind is telling you to run for the hills while your heart is begging you to stay.
Your anxiety hits the roof! You genuinely want to stay with this person, but the commitment it takes to be with them doesn’t sit right with you.
6. You never use the “L word”
You’re waiting for your partner to say it first so you can think about it. It sounds silly, but saying that you love someone when you have commitment phobia is like a big milestone that you’re not ready to cross.
When you just as much as hear the word “love,” your instinct tells you to run away as fast as you can. There’s nothing that makes it better even after months of dating someone.
When you say these words back to your partner, you feel like you’ve just committed a hate crime.
Sometimes, you’re afraid of feelings in general. The way you can see this issue in your partner is when they tell you that they love you, they can’t look you in the eyes.
You may hear them stutter through the words or that their voice drops. All of these are signs that they don’t actually love you, or even if they do, it scares them.
Someone who suffers from commitment phobia might even break off the relationship when their partner starts catching feelings for them. Yes, it gets that bad.
7. You don’t have a big group of friends
Having many friends (or just friends in general) means that you have to trust many people all at once. You have to work on those relationships, nurture them, and always be present.
In friendships, it’s not really that easy to just ghost them and then come back and act as if nothing ever happened. Many people search for friends for life, for those they can always count on.
A person who suffers from commitment phobia will probably only have one or two close friends while the others are very replaceable in their life.
One day they meet up with them, but the next, they don’t want to hear a word about that person.
You see, a commitment-phobe won’t even feel remorse when they cut someone off. Most of the time, they’ll just feel like they deserve better anyways, not realizing that they might have been the issue this whole time.
Because they aren’t able to trust people in the long run or put effort into their relationships (platonic or otherwise), people often just walk away from them.
More often than not, they will make sure everyone around them knows just how absolutely replaceable everyone is. Even they, themselves, are replaceable.
When you meet someone like this or if you recognize this type of behavior in yourself, it’s a huge sign of commitment phobia.
8. You never want to put labels on relationships
Another indication of commitment phobia is when the person never wants to put a label on things.
It just seems weird to do so. For example, you want to make things official and call each other boyfriend and girlfriend, but your partner doesn’t even want to hear about it.
Whenever one of you tries to bring up the topic, the other one just brushes it aside.
Have you ever been in a situation where putting a label on things didn’t seem right? I know that you must think that it’s because you didn’t want that person in that sense at all, but how many times did it happen?
How many times did you have to explain to someone that you needed more time, that you couldn’t make that decision on a whim, or anything along those lines?
Did you ever have an awkward conversation about this to the point where the other person got mad?
It’s strange because others are able to commit to someone and make things official in a matter of a few dates. But for you, it’s hard.
That right there is one of the most obvious signs of commitment phobia. Especially if you don’t want to commit even after months of seeing each other.
9. You don’t prioritize your partner
Making your partner the biggest priority in your life just seems like such a waste. That sentence probably sounded like the worst thing someone could say, but people who suffer from this crippling fear simply aren’t able to move past it.
They have their own life going on because they know that their career won’t just wake up one morning and decide that it doesn’t love them anymore.
For instance, if you suspect your partner is a commitment-phobe, you might feel like they’re never there for you. You feel like no matter what you need them for, there’s always something more important.
You send them a text message asking them to come over and they tell you they have to cook dinner, mow the lawn, wash their car, or other silly things.
Of course, things like your career should be important, but not to the point where you completely forget to be a part of the relationship.
Making someone else a priority seems like the scariest thing to do in life. So how can you even expect that from someone who isn’t able to commit without feeling unnerving pressure and anxiety?
Other people think that it’s so easy to just fall in love and stay in love while prioritizing your partner. They’d do anything for the love of their life. But for a commitment-phobe, this just seems like a hassle.
10. You’re very secretive
The best way to know if you have a fear of commitment is to pay attention to how much (or little) you trust others. Do you hold yourself back when talking about personal things because that would mean you’d have to trust that person?
When you trust someone with such information, it becomes dangerous. Especially if you know that the relationship won’t last long.
That’s how people who are scared of commitment keep their hearts safe and prevent themselves from getting attached to someone. The less their partner knows, the better.
Have you ever been asked a personal question and even though you’ve been seeing this person for months, you still don’t want to open up to them?
It may be some serious secret like the abuse you may have gone through, or it can be something as trivial as your address.
For people who don’t suffer from this, it’s easy to open up. Especially after knowing the person for a while.
They open up and they want their partner to know their deepest and darkest secrets because that means that they’ll have an insight into what’s going on. But for someone scared of commitment, it’s a big deal.
11. You never talk about anyone’s importance in your life
Why would anyone be so important to you that you talk about them? You don’t even let it get to that point! Talking about someone’s importance in your life only means that you’re giving them a free pass to break your heart.
You can spot this behavior in people around you as well as yourself. Sometimes, it’ll feel like you’re being rude. It’s not that you want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but you simply keep them at arm’s distance.
Or is it not you who’s the issue here?
What about the person you’re dating? Have you heard from other people how they’re only referring to you as an accountant?
They never told anyone that you were actually dating and they never said that you were important to them at all. They just brushed off every suggestion of you two being together.
Admitting their feelings for you and your importance in their life would only mean that they’re giving you power.
Those with commitment phobia sometimes do this because they’re scared that they might hurt you if they give you the wrong impression.
But it could also be that they don’t want to acknowledge their close ones in their life. And it may not only be their romantic interest, but can even extend to friends and family members.
12. You have huge mood swings
One day you’re fine. The next, you’d rather run for the hills than talk to anyone!
This is also something that you can look out for in your partner as well as yourself. These mood swings aren’t something that can be easily hidden.
What happens is that a commitment-phobe tends to relax around someone they genuinely like. They temporarily forget about their fears, enjoy themselves, and completely let go of the thought that something might go wrong.
When this happens, the person is completely relaxed, funny, and happy, and you feel like everything’s alright.
Then the next moment you get completely ghosted and they don’t care that you’re hurt. They need to be alone for a while to process what happened.
This is when their phobia gets triggered and they feel like they’ve gone too far and they’ve caught feelings.
It’s quite hard for someone with commitment phobia to let themselves go and actually enjoy the entirety of the dating experience or the relationship. They may feel like they’re trapped the very moment they experience emotions.
This is not to say that it’ll always happen, but it’s often the case.
If you are a commitment-phobe, you know how hard it can be to let yourself go and trust someone with your heart as well as your life.