The psychology of personal relationships is one of the most confusing facets of our behavior . For example, it is the case that people who learn to fully enjoy each other’s company suddenly become distant.
Not because one’s personality has changed overnight, nor because of anything anyone has said or done; simply because of something called fear of commitment.
This fear about the future is one of the types of fear that is not produced by one type of animal or by a situation that endangers physical integrity, but rather has to do with the anguish produced by the anticipation of an unwanted experience.
What is the fear of commitment?
The fear of commitment is the more or less irrational fear of a situation that has not occurred and that has to do with n limiting one’s freedom as a sacrifice to be made in order to form a bond with another person .
Many times we link fear of commitment to the world of relationships, but it can really appear in any situation where there is the possibility of being stuck in a formal or informal relationship that demands too much of us.
The fundamental belief on which this state of mind is based is relatively simple: being able to choose between several options, even if that means instability, is preferable to making a pact or a commitment that limits our freedom of movement.
However, the fear of commitment can be understood by addressing the different pillars on which it is based. They are the following .
1. A marked individualism
The mindset of people who are prone to fear of commitment is basically individualistic, in the most neutral sense of the word. They do not have to be selfish or self-centered; they simply value individual needs first, rather than collective needs. That is why they will hardly show enthusiasm and initiative for a joint project that is just beginning ; in any case they will remain curious.
The same goes for relationships; fear of commitment makes the possibility of having a romantic relationship be interpreted, among other things, as a way of diluting one’s identity and sacrificing time and effort. The couple is not thought of as a unit, but as the sum of two parts.
2. Pessimism when evaluating the future
People who show a fear of constant and systematic commitment tend to believe that each of the future options that lie before their eyes are destined to be a bad experience in which the costs and sacrifices to be made will not be compensated by the benefits. The problem is not so much that one accepts a concrete commitment, but rather that one refuses beforehand to embrace any commitment that limits one’s freedom in the future .
3. Dichotomous thinking
People with a fear of commitment see decisions that have to do with reciprocity and agreements as a matter of all or nothing: either it fits into a framework of relationships imposed on us by the other person, or it is not accepted . We hardly think about the possibility of negotiating where the responsibilities and obligations of each one begin and end, and it does not even cross our minds that this commitment can be adapted to our own needs.
That is why sometimes running away when a glimmer of commitment appears in the future causes confusion and discomfort, if not damage to one’s self-esteem. Many times it is understood that it has not been this fictitious idea of what commitment means that has produced fear in the other, but oneself, the very characteristics of the person.
What to do in the face of this kind of fear?
In the world of business and formal relations, the fear of commitment can be reasonably grounded if it occurs on time ; after all, it can be a sign that the deal offered was simply good. What is worrying is that the fear of commitment extends to all facets of life, also to the loving and affective life, and in a systematic and constant way for a long time.
In those cases, couples therapy can be a very advisable solution, since through mediation it is possible to reach very interesting agreements and, at the same time, modify the person’s belief schemes to make them less prejudiced about what it means to assume that commitment.
Other interesting options are Cognitive Behavioral Therapies, aimed at helping the person modify his or her own way of thinking in favor of a more adaptive one. This usually means, among other things, adopting a less individualistic mentality, one that is capable of valuing those experiences that can only be lived intensely if they are understood as the product of two people establishing a relationship whose product is more than the sum of its components.