Fear of commitment is a common phobia, and even those who are comfortable with making some commitments in their lives don’t do so lightly.
Before we talk about the fear of commitment, let’s give a definition of the word “commitment” first. It means a pledge, and something binding you to a particular path of action. It therefore inevitably reduces your field of possibilities.
Because commitment limits you to certain actions, it necessarily deprives you of certain possibilities for pleasure. It’s easy to understand, therefore, why so many people find it difficult to do.
So why commit?
If it’s so limiting to commit to things, it’s surprising that people don’t just duck out of tying themselves to obligations all together and choose, rather, to follow their own desires and whims. To live life for its transient pleasures.
That can be great, and there’s a lot to be said for living life in the present. When we say ‘living in the present’ what we really mean is pursuing pleasure. Nevertheless, we all know that there are several things in life that are pleasurable but which do us harm in excess.
And there are plenty of things of tremendous value, which are lasting sources of happiness, that take sacrifice and work to achieve.
Here are 7 signs that your fear of commitment is preventing you from being happy;
1. You never seem to get anywhere
When you don’t commit to anything you never get any closer to a goal. It’s very simple. To use an example: if you want to lose 50 pounds but you can’t commit to an exercise or diet program, you won’t lose weight.
It doesn’t matter if the anxiety and self-loathing keeps you up nights, all that suffering won’t help you if it doesn’t motivate you enough to commit to the obligations inherent in the achievement of the goal. This applies to all kinds of commitments, from professional to personal.
2. You’ve got low self-esteem
Fear of commitment can mean we’re constantly not seeing things through. Those who fear commitment never want to exclude options for greater happiness, and so they can’t settle on any one path. But not seeing things through chips away at our confidence in being able to build anything lasting after a while.
And once you’ve given up once, it gets easier and easier to give up on things without any pangs of conscience. Once you’re heading down that path, it’s not long before you start feeling like you’ve got nothing to contribute.
3. You refuse to give up any of your freedom
Jobs, relationships, even family obligations seem too much of a burden. Everything that isn’t the pursuit of your own pleasure seems like slavery to you. If only you could run off into the forest and forage for food, right – where no one would bother you?
Go free camping for a couple of days with no food and come and talk to me again about freedom. Survival itself takes commitment. It’s a commitment you don’t get a choice about; but if you think you were born free, and by rights, you should be free to live without a struggle, think again.
4. You avoid problems and people associated with them
A fear of commitment can also manifest as an inability to face difficulties and people associated with them when things go wrong. In its extreme manifestation, a commitment-phobic person might disappear altogether from a relationship, job, or project at the first sign of trouble or boredom.
Most people are not so cowardly, but many still find it extremely difficult to stick with anything through difficult times. Of course, you shouldn’t stick with situations that you know are never going to benefit you. But if you’re always running away when it gets tough, then your fear of commitment could be undermining your strength of character.
5. You’re bored
When you’re not working on anything big enough to require a commitment and you’re never allowing yourself to be challenged, sooner or later you’ll be bored of life.
If all your relationship with the world consists in what you’re getting out of it without any investment on your part, all your experiences will be as superficial as what you put into them.
6. You fly from one thing to the next
When you’ve got a fear of commitment, your life is like a record player that always gets stuck mid-song. You’re always starting something new and always hopeful that this will finally be the thing that makes you happy.
If you find that this is happening repeatedly, you should examine either the wisdom of your choices and the reasoning behind them, or your attitude to sticking things out.
If you find that you’re always ducking out at the first sign of responsibility and difficulty, you might have to face some difficult truths, before trying in earnest to overcome yourself.
7. You don’t feel like you can depend on your friends
One thing about commitment is that it entails sticking at one thing for a prolonged period of time. This means that you form friendships with people that become strong and close because of the time you’ve invested in them.
When you’re a person who never commits to anything or anyone, you have plenty of friends, but if you’re in real trouble, you find you can’t really lean on anyone of them for any serious help. This is because you haven’t invested in forming serious relationships. No one feels they can rely on you, and reciprocally, you can rely on no one.
The good thing about commitment is that it allows for a degree of stability that can help you build something of lasting value.
What you don’t want is to wake up one morning and realize you haven’t got anything to show for the time that’s passed, and you haven’t got the energy to start anything either.