6 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Commitment

6 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Commitment October 25, 2018

Marriage is not for everyone yet most people in the US wed at some point in their lives. That being said, commitment and even marriage can be a healthy desire if you bring realistic expectations to it. But many adults don’t have a healthy template of intimate relationships to follow, making it difficult to know where to start. Perhaps the first step is reevaluating your view of commitment and adjusting your expectations.

Most observers agree that marriage in the US has been changing. Over the last fifty years, there has been a quiet shift in the landscape of marriage in America. Approximately 50 percent of adults over age eighteen marry; this number is compared to 72% in 1960, according to The Pew Research Center. The medium age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7years) according to this report.

Some think this decline is because of the rise in independence and also that the divorce rate rose sharply in the last part of the 20th century. Other changes, such as increasing acceptance of singlehood and cohabitation, have given us more opportunities for personal growth outside of marriage.

Richard Settersten, Ph.D. and Barbara E. Ray, authors of Not Quite Adults speculate that many people harbor misconceptions about a recent trend to delay marriage, believing that young adults are afraid of commitment and are abandoning marriage. They write, “Marriage is on hold for this generation, but it is delayed, not abandoned. The majority of young people eventually marry. They are just getting their ducks in a row before they do.”

However, it appears that uncertainty in romantic relationships is on the increase in the past decade and options range from friends with benefits to indecision about permanent commitment.  According to Scott Stanley, co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver, “Ambiguity is now the norm as opposed to clarity.” Author Jessica Massa, who interviewed hundreds of singles and couples for her book, “The Gaggle: How to Find Love in the Post-Dating World” informs us that many couples claim exclusivity but won’t call it a relationship.

It makes sense that people in their 20’s and 30’s might hedge their bets and see relationships as risky if they watched their parents’ marriage fail or even relatives and friend’s parents’ marriage collapse.

According to Darlene Lancer, adults who grew up in an environment where their perceptions were invalidated may have learned to doubt themselves. She writes, “You may become distrustful and/or the opposite, suggestible to what others say and disconnected from your inner guidance system. Either way, you’re not able to realistically evaluate other people.”

For instance, many people, like Kendra, have a fear of commitment. She just can’t see a relationship working out, but she desperately wants one. Kendra, age twenty-eight, is a successful, educated young woman, but relationships have been her Achilles heel. Although she says she doesn’t believe relationships will last, Kendra, wants one who will be a true match for her. “I think I can have a happy marriage, but I fluctuate”, she says. “If it’s the right person, if we’re both loyal. If it’s true love, I’ll be optimistic.”

By acting from a place of mistrust and apprehension, Diana is most certainly creating her future, or what she calls, a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” There are no guarantees in any relationship. Some work out and some don’t but approaching relationships with fear or doubt almost guarantees a negative outcome.

If you fear commitment, you might want to consider the following: Know that no relationship is conflict free, but you are worthy of having a relationship that makes you happy. If you aren’t there yet, embrace where you are now. What is it that holds you back from achieving a satisfying relationship? And once you have it, what will you do when you get there?

6 ways to overcome your fear of commitment:

  • Face your fear of commitment and embrace the notion that a lifetime commitment has to be made when there is some degree of uncertainty. If you wait to make a commitment when you are free of doubts, it will never happen.
  • Remember that life can be more rewarding when you take risks and make a commitment to a partner who seems to be a good match for you.
  • No one is without flaws. While it’s good to have standards, realize that the ideal of a soul-mate is probably unrealistic.
  • Take your time dating someone and make sure you’ve known them for at least two years to reduce your chance of divorce.
  • Make sure that you have common values with individuals who you date. If you marry someone with drastically different values, you will face complex issues that could put you more at risk for divorce.
  • Learn to trust your judgment and be consistent with your commitment. Commitment to someone you love and consider your best friend is not an on-again, off-again proposition.

Even in the twenty-first century, when ideas about the nature of modern families have changed, many notions about marriage remain the same. Relationships, whether they last three months or three decades, can provide their participants with the love, understanding, and intimacy they need at the time.

Learning to have confidence in your decision to either stay single or make a commitment takes life experience and a willingness to risk that you might get rejected or hurt. In the long run, taking risks will allow you to face your fear of commitment. I wish you the best on your journey of love, trust, and intimacy.

Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.

I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry 


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