Corporate Wellness

Fear of Commitment: How It Can Manifest And Ways To Navigate It

There can be many factors behind commitment issues. We spoke to an expert to decode how the fear of commitment can manifest in your relationship, and how you can navigate it.

By Sahajiya Halder
20 Dec 2021

From Julia Roberts's character Maggie in the movie Runaway Bride to Bunny from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, there are plenty of examples in popular culture of characters who have issues with commitment. According to an article published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, commitment desirability, which is the subjective desire to be involved in a committed romantic relationship at a given time, may have a significant effect on relationship attitudes and behaviours. While not everyone wants to be in a lifelong or monogamous relationship, some who do may find it hard to commit despite their desire to do so. This fear of commitment is not just limited to personal relationships, but can also show up in other areas of life where there is an occasion to dedicate to something for a prolonged period of time. Feelings of distress and discomfort at the thought of committing to anything long-term, especially in a romantic relationship, might be a sign of commitment issues.


Factors that commitment issues can stem from:

Childhood experiences can influence people's attitude towards commitment. Dr. Shreya Chakravarty, psychologist, Apollo Health City, Hyderabad, says, "There can be many reasons that can lie at the root of commitment issues. Childhood emotional trauma and stress, parent’s divorce, abusive parents or parents having an abusive relationship, and a dysfunctional family can lead to fear of commitment in later life."


Attachment issues can be another major factor. An individual's attachment style, as well as their partner's, can affect their relationship dynamics significantly and contribute to issues with commitment. "Personality disorders, commitment or relationship phobia or anxiety, mood disorders, as well as traumatic past relationship experiences can also affect an individual's issues about commitment", adds Dr. Chakravarty.


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Some signs of commitment issues manifesting themselves in a relationship:

  1. Preferring short term relationships, and finding other relationships in life less satisfying, too.
  2. Partner not being a factor in their future plans, and not having any relationship goals or plans.
  3. Says Dr. Chakravarty, "’Not connecting emotionally, and not initiating deep conversations, physical intimacy and affectionate behaviour can also be signs."
  4. Not introducing partners as ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend'.
  5. Exhibiting signs of self-centred or toxic behaviour.


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How to navigate these issues:

Everyone's relationship looks different. If your partner and you are looking for a long-term monogamous relationship but either of you are dealing with issues of commitment, there are some ways to try to overcome them.


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  1. Try to recognise the patterns in one's relationships. While it can be easier to recognise these issues in someone else, it can be harder when it comes to your own self. Realising and acknowledging that there might be something that needs to be addressed can be the first step.
  2. Open and honest communication is key to every relationship, and most definitely in cases of issues such as this, where two partners may be at different places with regards to commitment.
  3. Dr. Chakravarty advises, "Don’t ridicule. Support and encouragement are very important while handling issues like this."
  4. Setting and respecting boundaries are necessary. "Give them some time, and respect their initiative", says Dr. Chakravarty about navigating a relationship where someone has commitment issues.
  5. Seek professional support. Psychotherapeutic intervention for both the individual and the couple can go a long way towards working through this.


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