When asking any couple about their successful relationship, you likely need not go too far down the list of ingredients to find the word ‘commitment’. There’s a point in every relationship where it’s time to go all-in.
The Sum of All Fears
And yet so many of us are afraid of relationships. Maybe you’ve been hurt too many times, or perhaps you just love the independence of being single. Whatever the case, carrying a phobia towards commitment still drills down to one thing: fear. A fear of intimacy, and a fear of deep connection. Commitment-phobes fall into relationships, sometimes head first, but the beginning of the end will always be the same: you reach a point where you cut off your emotions, in the process cutting off your partner from your true self.
Optimism vs Pessimism
Ask yourself how you look at the world. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you approach life with gusto or fear? If it’s the latter then you’re constantly going to be in situations where you want something but are too afraid to pursue it. And sometimes overcoming a fear of commitment is as simple as switching the filter — letting love and optimism be the prism through which you view life, rather than the fear.
Of course, weighing up decisions is fine. Should I go out with this person? Should I take this relationship to the next level? Should I move in with this person? Should I marry this person? Each is a big call that you need to think through carefully. But as long as you approach it with optimism, rather than pessimism, you’re probably going to make the right call. Maybe it won’t go well if you move in with your partner — that’s a real possibility — but you don’t want to die wondering. Being hurt by someone in the past is painful, but looking back on an opportunity that you failed to seize is its own kind of pain: think of every person you ever wanted to ask out, but didn’t. I bet you now ponder, even occasionally, whether you made the right choice.
The solution to commitment-phobia? As is so often the case, a lot of it comes down to communication. You need to understand the wants, needs and expectations of any relationship. With those at hand, you can then go about making the right decision. But it’s important to make some sort of decision.
Interdependence and Independence
Being in a relationship doesn’t need to kill your freedom. Interdependence doesn’t mean the complete loss of independence. If a certain degree of independence is important to you in a relationship, then your partner will support that — they might even be of the same mind. And if he or she doesn’t, then perhaps it’s not meant to be.
Knowing someone on an intimate level can take some courage. Venturing outside of your protective walls can involve opening yourself to pain. But there will still be pain if you never open up to someone. And intimacy pays off handsomely over time: having someone who knows how you work means having someone who knows how to help you in times of need — they can get to the essence of your problems like no one else (maybe better than yourself, even). And if they’re the right person, they’ll never use that knowledge against you.