Relationships Spouses & Partners How a Fear of Commitment Can Impact Your Relationship By Wendy Rose Gould Wendy Rose Gould LinkedIn Wendy Rose Gould is a lifestyle reporter with over a decade of experience covering health and wellness topics. Learn about our editorial process Updated on October 19, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD Medically reviewed by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD LinkedIn Twitter Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor at Yeshiva University’s clinical psychology doctoral program. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Lerexis / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Signs That You Fear Commitment Impact on Relationships Overcoming a Fear of Commitment Being scared of commitment is sometimes a sign of gamophobia, or the fear of marriage and commitment. People who have this fear are often so scared of commitment that they are unable to form lasting, long-term relationships. Fear of commitment often means that while you want to continue a relationship, you struggle to be vulnerable or take steps forward. This fear can stem from many issues ranging from worrying about rejection, feeling insecure about what you can offer a partner, or being fearful of relationships in general based on your own personal experiences. We're outlining common signs that demonstrate a fear of commitment and explaining how failing to work past commitment issues can ultimately be the demise of a relationship you treasure. Signs You Have a Fear of Commitment A fear of commitment becomes obvious over time, but there are some early signs you can watch for, as well. Self-Sabotage “A person who has a fear of commitment has usually experienced a familial pattern or loss that has created a sense of safety with being alone or not emotionally invested,” explains Christina Hathaway, MAS, MFT, founder and CEO of Ignite Ambition. When someone afraid of commitment feels that their potential partner is gaining strong feelings, they will either sabotage the relationship in a way that will make it end or they may prematurely end the relationship even if it is going well. You Struggle to Make and Keep Plans Someone with only one foot in the door is likely reticent to make plans too far into the future. Small examples might include not saying yes to a wedding three months away or avoiding making holiday plans. Your Emotions Cause Extreme Discomfort Some conversations are more complicated than others, and it’s OK to feel uncomfortable at times. However, experiencing discomfort to the point of avoiding emotional conversations or not displaying your own emotion can be a sign of commitment issues. If you suspect you might have a fear of commitment, ask yourself if any of the following apply: You’re happy with the relationship but still spend a lot of time questioning it You struggle to think about the future of the relationship You’re hesitant to make plans Talking about progressing the relationship makes you feel uneasy You struggle to be vulnerable even if your partner is trying to engage emotionally Your partner often asks you where you’re at in the relationship and what you want moving forward (they are seeking clarity because you have been unable to provide it) You don’t feel emotionally engaged or connected Is Your Relationship Worth Saving? How Fear of Commitment Damages Relationships Ultimately, a fear of commitment can lead to the demise of a relationship. In some cases, this demise might be drawn out and painful—especially if one person is trying to make the relationship work while the other isn’t contributing emotionally. Along the way, the person who is trying to commit will likely experience deep hurt, frustration, confusion, anger, embarrassment, and eventually apathy as they give up on the relationship. The person who is fearful of commitment may experience feelings of fear, worry, and stress. They may feel frustrated with themselves for being unable to progress the relationship, and experience guilt because they can see they are hurting another person. In some cases, a person who has a fear of commitment might feel frustrated at the other person for trying to progress the relationship instead of maintaining the status quo. In the most destructive and hurtful situations, a person with commitment issues may sabotage the relationship by completely distancing themselves, going through waves of hot and cold, threatening breakups, cheating, or creating unnecessary conflict as a means to escape. How to Know When It’s Time to See a Therapist How to Overcome Fear of Commitment “First and foremost, it is important to recognize the patterns that created this behavior,” says Hathaway. “You must understand why you are fearful of committing.” She says this is important because, in many cases, the ‘why’ is no longer relevant in your life. Maybe you’ve yet to recover from a past hurt or you’re worried about repeating a toxic relationship you witnessed. Exploring the 'why' on your own can be helpful, but don’t rule out the benefits of speaking with a therapist. Another way to help work through a fear of commitment is to talk about it openly with your partner. Hathaway says, “Help them understand your thoughts and feelings. Work together and create supportive patterns that can help you manage the thoughts and feelings around your fear.” Recovering From the Fear of Vulnerability A Word From Verywell The very fact that you’re here means that you’re either hopeful about ceasing a pattern of failing to commit yourself, or you’re trying to navigate a relationship with someone who is fearful of commitment. In either case, you’re not alone. Understanding the root cause of the fear and open communication can create a path toward a deeply fulfilling relationship. Why Vulnerability in Relationships Is So Important By Wendy Rose Gould Wendy Rose Gould is a lifestyle reporter with over a decade of experience covering health and wellness topics. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Relationships Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.