Dating and Relationship Advice

What is Fear of Commitment?

This phrase is thrown around a lot in circumstances where one person wants more from a relationship than their partner is giving them, when someone has a pattern of attracting emotionally unavailable people, or when someone is experiencing a pattern of being ghosted. But is the fear of commitment really an accurate way to describe these experiences?

Commitment fear, known as Gamophobia, is deeper and more specific than that, so it's helpful to understand what's potentially going on both in yourself and in the potential partners you might be attracting. In general, the fear of commitment is the avoidance of long-term obligations whether in school, work or friendships/family life. A fear of commitment in pop culture most commonly indicates the avoidance of partnerships and/or marriage due to feelings of claustrophobia, entrapment or like a partner would restrict your ability to have the life you want.

How Common is Gamophobia?

Gamophobia is a widespread issue affecting a significant portion of the population. It is estimated that about 6% of individuals in the general population struggle with gamophobia. This phobia can also impact 20-40% of those seeking therapy for relationship problems, who are diagnosed with it.

What Causes Fear of Commitment?

While the exact cause of gamophobia is yet to be determined, it may be a result of such things as going through a divorce, painful breakup or experiencing some sort of abandonment in childhood, including the divorce of your parents, can cause the fear of commitment.

Here are some of the most common factors causing gamophobia:

  1. Past traumatic experiences with relationships or commitment - This can refer to past negative experiences such as heartbreak, abuse, or disappointment that have left a person wary of committing to another relationship.
  2. Fear of rejection or abandonment - Some people may have a fear of being rejected or abandoned by a partner, which can prevent them from committing to a relationship.
  3. Low self-esteem or insecurity - People with low self-esteem or insecurity may feel unworthy of love or affection, leading to a fear of commitment.
  4. Difficulty trusting others - Trust is an important factor in any relationship, and a lack of trust in others can lead to fear of commitment.
  5. Cultural or societal beliefs about relationships - Some cultural or societal beliefs may discourage commitment, leading to gamophobia.
  6. Family background or upbringing - Family background and upbringing can play a role in shaping a person's beliefs and attitudes towards relationships and commitment.
  7. Lack of relationship role models - Without positive examples of committed relationships, a person may struggle to envision a successful partnership and develop gamophobia.
  8. Stress or anxiety about future responsibilities - The idea of committing to a long-term partnership and shouldering its responsibilities can be stressful or anxiety-inducing for some people.
  9. Financial concerns or uncertainty - Money and financial stability are important factors for many people, and uncertainty about the future can make commitment difficult.

It's important to keep in mind that it's about perception: for example, if you perceived that your parents divorce when you were a kid meant that relationships don't last or that none of yours would, you might develop commitment fear. It's also important to keep in mind that, just because you've experienced any of the things named above does not mean that you automatically develop a fear of commitment in relationships (or otherwise). But even if you do, you're not stuck with this fear forever.

Signs of Commitment Fear

One of the fear of commitment signs is asking one-sided questions that focus more on the other person than on how you feel in a connection with someone else Examples include "did I say the right thing?", "is he attracted to me?", "am I enough/what he's looking for?" without the balancing questions of "how do I feel around him?", "is he what I'm looking for?" and "am I attracted to him? Mutual attraction is what Iris Dating helps people find the way to avoid lopsided relationships and experiences that might lead to gamophobia.

Some other signs of gamophobia may include:

  • Avoidance of serious or long-term relationships
  • A tendency to keep relationships casual or superficial
  • Difficulty discussing future plans or commitment in a relationship
  • Insecurity or uncertainty in a relationship
  • A pattern of ending relationships before they become too serious
  • Fear of intimacy or getting too close to a partner
  • Resistance to making plans or commitments
  • Anxiety or stress when faced with the prospect of commitment
  • Difficulty expressing emotions or commitment in a relationship
  • A tendency to run away or avoid conflict in a relationship.

How Do You Overcome Fear of Commitment

Brunette woman with green eyes, half-face covered

The first step in how to get over fear of commitment is to practice committing to things. For example, you might start with committing to getting over your fear of commitment. You might start smaller (and you get to define "small" and "large") and make a plan to get something done on a certain day and commit to doing it. This may sound silly, but the fear of commitment is real, and you won't get over it if you don't take it seriously.

Once you've practiced making and keeping small commitments, you can consider how to get over the fear of commitment in a relationship specifically. Some might advice to be upfront and honest about your fear of commitment with potential partners, but I would actually advise against that. Don't give this fear any more power than it already has. Also, don't hurt your prospects unnecessarily. This is a fear you can tell a therapist or process with your friends; it's not necessary to tell potential dates.

Takeaway

The best way to overcome gamophobia in a relationship is to prioritize mutual attraction. Iris Dating believes that mutual attraction is powerful enough to overcome nearly all other objections and, when it's mutual, it drastically reduces the risk of heartbreak, rejection and one-sided relationships.

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