How to Commit When You’re Afraid of Commitment

Written by: Jorinde Berben
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I’ve been afraid of commitment for as long as I can remember. It has made it very hard for me to have romantic relationships, close friendships and an open connection with my family. It has influcenced many aspects of my life, including my career. However, I’ve only been aware of my issues with it for about 5 years or so.

It would seem that I was eager and willing to commit (as I was on a conscious level), from the fact that I got married at the age of 21, for example. And because that marriage lasted over a decade. But there were clues there as well, even if I didn’t realise it at the time.

In previous relationships, I often found myself being drawn to a person, but running away as soon as things got a little bit serious. None of my relationships before my marriage lasted longer than three months (and the longest one was a long-distance relationship). During my marriage, I managed to keep a part of myself very private and unexposed as well. I picked someone who was very different from me, both emotionally and culturally, and even though we shared a lot and had many great years, I was never fully vulnerable in my relationship with my ex-husband. It took us getting a divorce to realise what had been happening all those years.

Today is my current partner’s birthday. He’s 40 today, and in all his wisdom that comes with this age (couldn’t help it 😉 ), he’s chosen to be with me, a commitment-phobe if ever there was one.

We’ve been together, off and on, for a few years, and I feel this desire for a closer relationship grow with each passing month. I feel it’s time for me to take a step towards that closer commitment.

Fear of commitment isn’t a constant thing. It’s not like it pops up every time we have a romantic moment together (though those moments can be strong triggers). Rather it’s a fear that sets in from time to time, often after we’ve spent a lot of time together or have gotten really close emotionally or physically.

What happens internally when I’m caught up in that fear, I’ll discuss in a future post. But it is in those moments that my partner is most afraid that I might run away again, and rightfully so. In those moments my thoughts change, and I almost become a different person. It’s scary for both of us, and it’s something I want to protect us against.

So, this is what this first commitment looks like:

I promise not to make decisions about our relationship when I’m in this state of fear, and I commit to keeping the lines of communication open. I also commit to taking on my own relationship issues and personal issues and to take steps in my own healing process. I promise to share parts of myself that are vulnerable, and small, and scary in order to grow in trusting you. I promise to always communicate truthfully about how I feel, even when I’m inclined not to because I’m afraid to hurt your feelings. And I vow to try to stay present during your uncomfortable feelings, even if they trigger me.

Expressing this commitment feels safer for my partner, for sure, but it also feels safer for me (yes, safe and scary at the same time. We’re full of dilemmas). I know I’m allowed to feel what I feel, without fearing that my partner will run off. By now, he knows what he’s got himself into, and I couldn’t be more grateful that he’s decided we are worth it.

Happy birthday, my love.

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