Some dream of finding a partner they love and being with only that person for the foreseeable future; for others the idea settling down is terrifying. If you've found someone you're crazy about, but are trying to figure out how to get over a fear of commitment, the task can sometimes seem a little daunting, and the process unsettling. Even if anything super serious, like a wedding plan, isn't in the near future, the thought of dating one person and one person only can be scary for many people.
Even if you are aware of your fears, getting over that nagging feeling inside that's telling you to run can be a challenge. Once you begin to get involved with someone, the stakes are suddenly high. "These feelings of the fear of commitment, so common to us all, become heightened when we feel vulnerable," Dr. Gail Gross Ph.D., Ed..D., M.Ed tells me over email. "Once in a relationship, where control is mutual and shared, so is your feeling of vulnerability."
This anxiety and vulnerability can cause us to act in a variety of negative ways, including purposely fighting with your partner, acting emotionally unavailable, or even pulling away. We've all had those moments where even committing to dinner next Friday can seem like the ultimate sacrifice.
To help ease you into the idea that it can be fun and enjoyable to spend your time with someone indefinitely, I've consulted a few psychologists and relationship experts to give their top tips for getting over a fear of commitment.
1. Acknowledge Your Fear
"The first thing you have to do is recognize that this is going on," says Gross. "Call a thing by its name and you gain a certain amount of power over it." Acknowledging these feelings allows you to recognize what's going on with your emotions and take the appropriate steps to alleviate your fears.
2. Spend Time With People In Healthy Relationships
"If the majority of your time is spent with people in bad relationships, there is a good chance you will develop a skewed view of what relationships can be like," says Dr. Kimber Shelton, PhD, a psychologist and relationship expert, over email.
This can commonly happen with children of divorce, as they may develop a fear of commitment and intimacy later in life, according to a study by North Carolina State University. Spending time with couples who are caring towards one another and work to solve problems can help provide you with a more balanced view of relationships, suggests Shelton.
3. Build Strength And Competence
Oftentimes people fear relationships because they worry about getting hurt and don't want to deal with the pain. But just because you don't want the negative emotions doesn't mean you're not equipped to handle it.
"When we feel competent that we can handle whatever happens in the relationship, commitment fears dwindle," says Shelton. "This means believing that no matter what happens in the relationship you will be okay.
4. Consider The Payoffs
There has to be a reason so many people get into serious relationships, right? They come with perks. "Human beings have a natural desire to connect, to have someone to depend on, and to share the responsibilities and experiences of life with," Brad McMurrey, author of "The Love Ladder" ITALICS INSTEAD OF QUOTES says to Bustle over email. "A major commitment gives your life a sense of meaning, purpose, and direction bigger than just you. This can be very satisfying."
5. Stay In The Moment
Instead of freaking out about tomorrow, focus on today. "Focus on what you are getting there and then that is comfortable, satisfying, and trustworthy," says Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D, a psychologist and relationship expert.
6. Stop The Excuses
Many of us dodge relationships by citing careers, lack of good options, or even age. "Stop using reasons why you are alone and not dating that seem ‘legitimate'" says psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Debbie Magids to Bustle over email. "The truth is so many [people] have relationships and careers, find great guys, and fall in love at any age."
7. Find The Right Person
Many times people are afraid to commit because they aren't going for the right person, whether it's subconscious or not. "Figure out what qualities and values are important to you in a mate once you are ready to find a lasting love," says relationship coach Natalie Moore, MsEd, MFT. "This is the most important step in preparing for a new relationship. The more you know about what you want and what is important to you, the less likely you are to make a mistake."