Social relationships are a very big part of our daily lives. Humans are social beings so we look for relationships. But maintaining a relationship seems to be a problem with some. Being afraid of commitment and anxiety in relationships is normal. But it should not be affecting us to a point that we start losing our relationships.
According to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders), “A person with phobia exhibits persistent and intense fear, triggered by a specific object or situation, which is also excessive and unreasonable.” Anyone with any type of Phobia fears something and they cannot explain the reason behind that fear. Anxiety on the other hand is excessive worrying affecting the body and mind.
People who suffer from anxiety in a relationship get very worried about the future. Also not to mention their over-the-top stress about maintaining communication, making decisions, compromise, etc. They are so comfortable in their space that they fear the sharing that comes with all relationships. And it is not only limited to a romantic relationship. All kind of relationship looks like a lot of work and they worry too much instead of enjoying the relationship.
Same way commitment phobia is the fear of the future. Commitment phobia can include fear of commitment across several dimensions, not just romantic relationships. It may be to a job, a place, a career, etc. It means fear of making a decision that might have a long-lasting effect on a relationship.
Commitment phobia and relationship anxiety are not added in any diagnostic manual for disorders. But in the modern-day world, it is a hindrance in one’s life. These people generally have a serious problem in staying in a relationship for the long term. While they still experience love like anyone else, the feelings can be more intense and scary than they are for most people.
There are a lot of reasons or causes that give birth to commitment phobia and anxiety in relationships. But from a Psychology point of view, two reasons stand out the most;
Attachment styles in childhood can greatly impact one’s perspective towards relationships.
According to John Bowlby attachment is “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings” (1969).
He gave four different types of attachment styles that a person has with his primary caregiver. They are; Secure, Anxious-Preoccupied, Dismissive-Avoidant, and Fearful-Avoidant. While secure attachment styles can lead to healthy emotional and social relationships in the future. The other three attachment styles might lead to unhealthy coping and emotional relationships.
Childhood trauma, sexual abuse, domestic violence can also impact an individual’s view towards relationships. Parental divorce is considered to be one of the reasons for having anxiety in relationships. But a study conducted by H. R Riggio (2004) indicated that young adults from divorced families reported significantly lower anxiety about participating in personal relationships.
Other than these; stress in terms of job or education, financial issues are some sociological issues that can cause relationship anxiety and fear of commitment.
Signs or Symptoms
Relationship anxiety and Commitment phobia has some very direct and some indirect symptoms. Observing those patterns to understand the problem is the first step in recognizing the problem.
Past relationship experiences:
Past relationships of an individual suffering from anxiety in a relationship are always short-lived. And most often the reasons for these break-ups are unwillingness to participate in activities that can ensure a secure future with the partner.
People suffering from commitment phobia never plan for the future. They do not believe in scheduling or planning for things. Often their future planning never includes anyone other than themselves.
Individuals who do not want to commit to anyone avoid labels as much as possible. For them, labeling is a step forward that leads to more expectations which they try to avoid.
These individuals lack emotional involvement and attachment in a relationship. They do not feel fully involved even when they long for a lasting relationship.
The problem with commitment phobia and relationship anxiety is not that they do not long for a lasting relationship. But they feel so overwhelmed in a relationship that they break free. They feel like they are trapped living someone else’s life
These individuals question their every move in a relationship and doubt their partners. They question the worth of the relationship and what it is costing them. This questioning happens quite often leading to overthinking and feeling of overwhelm.
Approaches that can help
Not having a long-term relationship can be someone’s conscious choice and that is completely okay. Maintaining relationships and having a family or partner is not a necessary element of life. But it affects our mental health and wellbeing and happiness. So below mentioned are some approaches that might help any individual; who wants to have a good and lasting relationship and ‘work it out’.
Contrary to popular belief, counseling and therapy is not only for those suffering from a mental disorder. In our daily life, we go through a lot of things, stress, frustration, sadness, and counseling helps with that. Counseling is a safe space where we can let out our innermost thoughts and emotions. The ethics of counseling covers most of the common doubts like privacy and consent. In counseling, the counselor is a listener who will help you find the right path. They do not suggest or pass their judgment on to the client.
Communication is the key to every healthy relationship. Letting the partner know of the inner struggle is very important. Otherwise, no one will be able to offer their support and help.
Mindfulness is a practice in the field of Positive Psychology. It means being aware of the present time without any judgment. We need to focus on what we have now instead of what happened before. Not dwelling much on the past is one step towards mindfulness that one should focus on.
Expressing emotions is very helpful when it comes to anxiety and phobia. But being impulsive and making a decision without thinking about the consequences can lead to an increase in them. When we get overwhelmed we make decisions without thinking much about it. To overcome anxiety in a relationship, an individual needs to express it with care. They need to be calm and in control before making any decisions.
The certainty of a relationship is unclear, but one can always try and enjoy the time they spend with their partners. Avoiding anxiety and fear towards commitment may not be entirely possible. But the above-mentioned approaches should help one to try and have a successful relationship. Even Chandler tried and became a committed
Published by Admin | and written by: Aakashitora Saikia