Commitment can be a tricky business. The more you learn about what it means as an adult, the scarier it can be – and not without good reason. When we first start dating or first fall in love, our concept of commitment is often not much more than a vague fairy tale of happily ever after. Society tells us if we meet the “perfect” person, the rest will take care of itself. Humans learn from trial and error however, and it doesn’t take very long to realize that relationships are hard work and commitment isn’t to be taken lightly.
Committing to someone means taking a risk. It implies a complete trust as well as a promise not to give up when times get hard. Even with the best intentions there’s no guarantee in the end, but the potential payoff of unconditional love is what makes the risk worthwhile. When one partner is more committed than the other however, there will be a problem, as unequal loyalty cannot breed trust. Here are some signs you or your partner may have problems with commitment:
1. Having a history of relationships where one partner is more “into” the relationship than the other.
2. Having a history of being involved with inappropriate partners.
3. Important past relationships have ended because one partner got scared.
4. Having extreme emotional responses within the relationship; overly romantic, overly involved, overly distant etc.
5. Believing any problems with commitment will be gone once meeting the “right person”, and feeling like there’s always someone better out there.
6. Being attracted to career options that allow a lot of leeway in terms of time and space.
7. Getting involved with partners where there’s a geographical distance, or partners who are already involved with another person.
8. Becoming very uncomfortable when feeling like someone is encroaching on your space.
9. Feeling like forever is an overwhelming concept.
10. Feeling like friends who are in solid relationships have settled unnecessarily.
So how do we get over our fear of commitment?
1. Ask yourself why you’re scared and what you’re scared of. Are you afraid of getting hurt? Tracing back to the root of the problem can take away its power. We’ve all been hurt before, but it’s not a reason to limit the potential of a relationship. Especially if the person you’re involved with wants to make that commitment to you.
2. Write down a list of all the things you love about your partner. Are you compatible? Are your fears overpowering your logic?
3. Focus on the good things that could come out of a loving committed relationship. Do you want a family and children? Picture a great life and how wonderful it can be. Negative thinking attracts negative behavior.
4. Realize that you have control over how your relationship develops. If you’re afraid of lack of communication, you can do something about it. If your fear is about losing your identity, be honest and talk to your partner about it. If you’re with someone who truly cares about you, then compromises can be met. Don’t assume your relationship will be the same as your parents, or other negative role models.
5. Creating distance with your partner only feeds the problem. When you pull away from someone, their natural reaction is to hold on tighter, creating an endless tug of war. Be responsible with your own and your partner’s feelings. If you are truly not ready for a commitment, recognize it, work on it, and don’t drag other people into it.