Scared of being tied down? Afraid of getting married? If you answered yes to either of these, you just may be a bona fide commitment-phobe. While the DTR (defining the relationship) conversation is totally normal for some, the mere thought of a serious relationship can be crippling for others. If you’ve been stuck under a dark cloud that is your fear of commitment, it’s time you take control and step into the light. Here are eight ways to overcome your fear.
1. Discover the root of your fear
There are many different reasons behind a person’s fear of commitment. It could stem from their upbringing in a broken home, a fear of getting their heart broken, or their inability to let their guard down. As soon as you really dig down to discover the root of it, you’ll be able to determine if your fear is valid. “Most of the time you will find that this fear is baseless,” Moshe Ratson, a family and couples therapist, writes in The Huffington Post. “In order to eliminate it, you need to make yourself see how much freedom you actually have.” Before you can help yourself, it’s imperative you pinpoint the root of it all.
2. Face your fear
Conquering your fears is a worthy endeavor, so long as it actually adds value to your life. A person who’s terrified of heights doesn’t jump out of a plane for the fun of it, rather they see skydiving as a way to prove they’re stronger than they think.
Everyone has something that falls way outside their comfort zone. The problem is, though, when you let fear determine how you live, you’re not actually living in the moment. Instead, you’re letting that fear rule your decisions. Because of this, Ratson says it’s important to face your fears with courage, despite their negative force. Of course, a fear of commitment is much different than that of heights, so jumping out of a plane probably won’t help in your case, but you get the idea.
3. Make room in your life
For some, a fear of commitment is the result of an overly scheduled life. We’re all busy, but it’s important to remember to take stock in your relationships. Perhaps committing to another person seems out of the question because you’re certain you won’t have the time or energy to devote to them. Your needs are all you can handle right now — but are they, really?
In Psychology Today, Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., writes that, just like goldfish, “people grow according to the size of their bowl.” What’s he’s saying is keeping yourself so restricted and regimented means you might not be giving yourself the opportunity to accept other people, and potential love, into your life.
4. Don’t rely on others to make you feel good
If you’re afraid of committing to someone, consider the fact you might be relying too heavily on what they will think of you. Once you really commit to another person, the possibility of rejection comes into play. But that shouldn’t weigh too heavily on your mind. “Whether people accept you or reject you doesn’t change who you are,” YourTango points out. If your fear of being judged is hindering your ability to commit, consider how heavily you depend on other people’s opinions of you. Get your self-esteem from things that make you happy, rather than sabotaging any shot at love by waiting around for the perfect person to make you feel good.
5. Find freedom in love
Feeling trapped in a relationship can certainly lead to a fear of commitment. For this reason, it may be time you change your way of thinking. Have you ever considered the opposite? Instead of feeling trapped in a relationship, think about what it means to be in love. In Psychology Today, Srini Pillay, M.D., says it’s worth asking, “Are you less free because you stand outside of love?” And there’s wisdom here because with true love comes a sense of freedom. Freedom to be yourself. Freedom to love unconditionally. Freedom to be vulnerable. Love, it seems, is definitely worth exploring.
6. Look for someone who shares your values
Committing to another person means you’re sharing with them your deepest beliefs, which can be terrifying. This is why dating someone with common values can put you on track for a long, healthy relationship. You may not agree on your favorite sports team, but having the same core values, such as religion and family, goes a long way. Furthermore, social worker Terry Gaspard writes in The Huffington Post, “If you marry someone with drastically different values, you will face complex issues that would put you more at risk for divorce.”Diffuse the possibility of splitting up by choosing your partner with great intention.
7. Surround yourself with people in healthy relationships
Aside from experiencing it yourself, there’s no better way to get a feel for a healthy relationship than by seeing it firsthand. Kimber Shelton, Ph.D., tells Bustle that people who are constantly surrounded by bad relationships stand a good chance of developing a skewed view. Putting yourself in good company, however, will help you see a different viewpoint, and may help you overcome your fear of commitment.
8. Consider the benefits
Don’t let your resistance to a relationship overpower all the goodness you’re bound to experience. Living in fear only prohibits you from living your most present, intentional life. As Brad McMurrey, author of The Love Ladder, told Bustle, “A major commitment gives your life a sense of meaning, purpose, and direction bigger than just you. This can be very satisfying.” Before you swear off serious relationships for the rest of your life, consider the payoffs first.