People with commitment issues find it hard to commit to something long-term. When we hear the term ‘commitment issues’, we often hear it in the context of romantic relationships. But people can also experience commitment issues in their jobs, business ventures, careers, goals, and friends.
This article will discuss the common causes of commitment issues, mainly focusing on commitment issues in a romantic relationship.
Having commitment issues means wanting to commit but being unable to do so. People who don’t want to commit don’t necessarily have commitment issues.
For instance, a person may choose not to get married because they don’t think marriage is for them. Or someone may decide not to get into a relationship because they want to focus on their career.
People with commitment issues are looking to commit, but something is stopping them. They’re ambivalent. Their psyche is getting pulled in opposite directions.
You likely have commitment issues if you score high on this commitment issues test.
Commitment isn’t love, it’s investment
Love and commitment are two different concepts. You can love someone but not be committed to them. Or you can be committed to someone but not love them. Ideally, a healthy romantic relationship has both love and commitment.
Commitment is investing- investing your time and energy in a partner you’re looking to spend your future with. When you invest in something, you give up investing in other things. When you say ‘Yes’ to something, you’re saying ‘No’ to other things.
The investment model of commitment says that people will commit to something when they think alternate investment options aren’t worthwhile.1
Reasons for having commitment issues
In this section, we’ll touch on almost all the reasons for having commitment issues. You’ll notice that the primary reason behind having commitment issues is fear. So, tackling the commitment fears you have will get you 80% there if you want to fix your commitment issues.
1. Fear of change
People tend to get too comfortable with where they are in life. So, they tend to avoid anything that disrupts the comfort of the status quo. Fear of commitment may simply boil down to a fear of change or novelty.
2. Fear of missing other opportunities
As mentioned before, when you commit to something, you choose not to commit to other things. Commitment, therefore, carries a huge opportunity cost. If you feel there are better opportunities out there, you may have trouble committing to what’s in front of you.
You’ll get distracted by the bright, shiny objects in the vicinity. You’ll keep wondering if the grass is greener on the other side.
3. Fear of not being in the right relationship
People have certain expectations from long-term relationships. You may be okay with dating someone casually, but as soon as the relationship moves to the next level, doubt starts to creep in.
“Is this the right relationship for me?”
“Have I done a good job of choosing my partner?”
4. Fear of losing your freedom
When you commit to a romantic partner, you invest your time and energy into them. This means having less freedom than you had before when you were single. If the satisfaction you’re getting from the relationship isn’t offsetting these freedom costs, you may hesitate to commit.
5. Fear of repeating the past
You may have developed trust issues if you’ve been in a toxic relationship. If you grew up with parents who were in an unhealthy relationship, you fear that if you get into a relationship, you’ll get engulfed in toxicity.
6. Fear of losing your identity
When people enter romantic relationships, they tend to make their partner the center of their world. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t lose yourself. Integrating this new relationship identity into who you are can be challenging.
If you feel like you’re losing yourself in the relationship, you’ll feel the urge to avoid commitment and sabotage your relationship.
7. Fear of things not working out
Entering committed relationships is risky. You invest so much in your partner. If things don’t work out, it’ll be all in vain. Hence, the hesitance to commit.
7. Attachment issues
People have different attachment styles depending on how they were raised. The three main types of attachment styles are:
People with secure attachment styles hardly have problems committing. Not so with people having anxious and avoidant attachment styles.
An anxious attachment style person tends to cling to their partner, suffocating them. They feel anxiety when they’re separated from their partner. Their partners find it hard to commit to such an emotionally overdependent person.2
An avoidant attachment style person wants to be self-reliant and independent. They believe they don’t need other people to meet their needs. Thus, they find it hard to get into committed romantic relationships.
8. Low self-esteem
Some people feel unworthy of being in committed relationships. They’re uncomfortable opening up to their partners and revealing their vulnerabilities. They open up enough to enter a non-serious relationship. As soon as the relationship gets serious, they back off.
Having low self-esteem causes one to sabotage their relationship success. All kinds of success, really. Deep down, they believe they’re not worthy of the good things life has to offer.
People having narcissistic tendencies lack empathy, one of the essential ingredients of a healthy relationship. Their desire to be selfish is at odds with being in an interdependent, committed relationship.
Indecisive people tend to be perfectionists who want everything to be perfect before they make a decision. Unless they find that ‘perfect’ Hollywood-esque relationship of their dreams, they won’t commit. Good enough isn’t good enough for them.
11. Lack of role models
Do you know anyone in a committed relationship that you look up to?
If you lack role models who’re committed to their goals and relationships, it can be hard for you to do the same. Emulation is a powerful way of learning. You can fast-track any skill, including the skill of committing, if you have role models.
- Rusbult, C. E., & Buunk, B. P. (1993). Commitment processes in close relationships: An interdependence analysis. Journal of social and personal relationships, 10(2), 175-204.
- Bergeron, S., Brassard, A., Mondor, J., & Péloquin, K. (2020). Under, over, or optimal commitment? Attachment insecurities and commitment issues in relationally distressed couples. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 46(3), 246-259.
Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur. Feel free to contact me if you have a query.