Commitment Phobia & How to Recognize It
A guest post by Kevin Paterson
Most single Christians struggle with commitment jitters in dating relationships. However, there definitely is a real issue in the dating world that some call “commitment phobia.” Someone afflicted with this may have great communication and relational skills and easily attract the opposite sex and date. But when they hit the open courtship or dating highway, they find that their parking brake is permanently jammed and eventually drags on their relational momentum until there is no gas left in the relationship.
Now, of course, I’m not talking about wise avoidance of a potentially unhealthy relationship. I’m talking more about that repeated irrational fear of commitment that tends to erode one relationship after another, year after year.
So, let’s talk about the four causes of this phobia:
1. Love Deficit
Probably the number one reason is that commitment phobes have never really experienced the awesome power of unconditional love. In their family, friendships, career, and other areas of their lives, they usually feel that they had to perform to a certain standard to receive love. When single Christians don’t surround themselves in loving (non-dating) relationships and saturate themselves in God’s Word and what it says about His love for them, it’s easy to start to feel insecure and to fear rejection. Such insecurities will usually sabotage a promising relationship with the opposite sex.
2. Relational Hurts or Disappointments
Commitment phobia can also stem from deep relational hurts or disappointments. When people start to enter intimate relationships, they start to feel vulnerable. Unhealed relational wounds can trigger strong fears and a desire to run. Some Christian singles may seem to have it all together on the outside and not understand what they’re feeling inside, but they find themselves losing interest or wanting to distance themselves from the relationship. The inner phobias may not be signs that the relationship is wrong but actually evidence that there is an unhealed wound or wrong mindset that needs to be dealt with.
Next, self-centeredness can trigger commitment phobia. In our culture, we all have to battle with this to some degree. Usually self-centeredness is closely tied to the first factor: a lack of experiential love. When people aren’t filled with love, they don’t have much to give away, so they go around looking for people who can meet their love needs. However, ongoing self-centeredness will often cause others to want to exit the relationship.
You see, God has called us all to enter relationships seeking to give and bless. Healthy dating and marital relationships involve two relatively whole people getting to know God, being filled with His love, and choosing to lay down their lives to see the other’s life bloom for the sake of God’s Kingdom. Then in the process of loving unconditionally (from a place of dependence on God’s love), each person’s individual love needs are automatically met beyond their wildest dreams. As we sow love, we reap a harvest of love back in our own lives.
Commitment phobia can also be rooted in pride. Some people, often because of deep insecurity, need everything to look perfect on the outside to feel good about themselves. They want to be seen around the “beautiful” or “high status” people, those that the world tells us are valuable. They’ve got a reputation to preserve! Because his ego needs the boost, the affirmation, the man may be looking for the “sexy babe” (at least by the world’s standards), and the woman is looking for the handsome, charming, or wealthy guy (as measured by Hollywood standards). Instead of basing their relational choices on the inner qualities that God values, they prioritize the traits the world values. However, God has called us to first value the heart treasures in others that will form a solid Kingdom marriage that can change the world.
CP may also be rooted in fear of responsibility or fear of “not being enough.” You can learn more about this obstacle to commitment and learn how to recognize and overcome it in my video blog here.
In my next blog I’ll examine “6 Keys to Overcoming Commitment Phobia.” In the meantime, I bless you with a fresh revelation of God’s love for you, His perfect love that will empower you and others to overcome commitment phobia and thrive in your relationships!
For more information on sex, marriage, and finding the person who is right for you, get a copy of Becoming the One by Salomé Roat. Click here to learn more.