Most people have no idea what it's really like to be terrified of commitment. Let me give you a glimpse: I had to cover my eyes at the end of The Notebook when they grew old and died together, like it was some kind of cheap horror film I knew would haunt my dreams. But as amusing as commitment phobia is made out to be in rom-coms, it can be a pretty serious roadblock that stops people from having healthy, fulfilling relationships, and it's impossible to just shake off.
People like me who are terrified of the big C-word are likely dealing with a lot of other deeply-rooted issues. A lot of folks harbor intimacy issues that come from childhood experiences, while others battle basic insecurities and feel like they're just not good enough to be in a relationship with another human being. We can blame our parents for all that — no, really, science says so.
At Tel Aviv University, psychologist Dr. Sharon Dekel and a team of researchers found that 22.4 percent of the participants could be considered "avoidant" in their relationships, and regularly experienced anxiety about their partner being too clingy. In most of these cases, the person's parents were either negligent when they were children or "overly intrusive." This kind of dynamic in a home can often cause someone to dodge serious relationships, but the researchers believe this is more of a defense mechanism than an outright desire to avoid intimacy.
All that childhood mess leads to some bizarre thoughts that run through our heads during our adult years, no matter how perfect our SO seems or how much we love them. Here are 11 paranoid thoughts people who are afraid of commitment have.
1. "What's The Point Of Commitment? We All Die Anyway."
This thought has literally kept me up at night; it's the existential kicker that just won't quit. It's no coincidence that the word "anxiety" came up a few times in the results of the research conducted at Tel Aviv University, because people who run in the opposite direction of commitment usually deal with anxiety about, well, pretty much everything. The more we think about commitment, the more we think about the future, and the more we contemplate mortality in the context of a relationship and fear intimacy. If we commit to someone, then that means we'll have to be really sad if they die first — better to just avoid the whole mess altogether.
2. "What If They Dump Me After They See All My Weird Habits?"
It could be the smallest details, like how we brush our teeth or our nighttime routine, but it freaks us out knowing that someone else will be privy to it. Before my boyfriend and I moved in together, I was almost certain he would break up with me after he witnessed my bizarre snacking habits. (He didn't, but only because his are even more bizarre.)
3. "If I Text Back This Soon They'll Think I'm Obsessed With Them."
We're hyperaware of what message our communication habits send to the person we're dating. We don't want to respond to texts too soon, lest it indicate that we're ready for marriage and kids and growing old together. No, we'd much rather prefer to remain a distant mystery who doesn't text back for days. Charming, I know.
4. "I Need To Think Of New Passwords For Everything."
Commitment-phobes like their privacy. We thrive off of it, even if we've got nothing to hide. It's just that the idea of someone even getting close to knowing our personal business freaks us out, so when we start to get close with someone, we run through all the ways to protect our bank accounts, social media profiles, and email inboxes.
5. "Maybe I Can Convince Them That My Family Lives In A Foreign Country."
The thought of our SO meeting our relatives is horrifying. It means things are escalating to something more serious, and it also gives them pretty good insight to the person we truly are — and we just can't have that. So we go above and beyond to procrastinate them meeting the parents.
6. "I Hope They Don't Try To Hold My Hand Right Now."
We aim for minimal hand-holding in public, no pet names, and definitely no labels that would blow our cover. Our brains are constantly turned on to create new ways to show everyone, including the person we're dating, that we're not settling down anytime soon.
7. "There Must Be Some Deep, Dark Secret They're Hiding From Me."
What kind of weirdo would want to willingly be with us for an extended period of time if they didn't have some kind of twisted ulterior motive? It must be a trap. At least, that's what we think when we're looking for literally any way to slow things down.
8. "But What If I'm Missing Out On Something Better?"
This fear is also at the heart of a lot of commitment phobia. We might love the person we're with, but be terrified by the reality that choosing anyone means missing out on other people and experiences. We tend to suffer from serious FOMO.
9. "I Bet When They Learn Who I Really Am They'll Leave Me."
When it comes to commitment-phobes, experts widely agree that we're usually just insecure about our self-worth, which makes it difficult for us to accept that someone truly loves us. So we convince ourselves that our partner will soon discover what garbage we are — and leave us.
10. "I Hope They Don't Have Any Friends Who Are Getting Married Anytime Soon."
My brain feels like it's going to collapse in on itself when I know there is a wedding coming up I have to go to. It's prime time for all those creepy questions about who you're dating, when you're getting engaged, and how many children you want to bear. Those of us who hate commitment hope the person we're seeing doesn't have plans to drag us to a wedding as their date anytime soon for just this reason.
11. "But What If Committing Makes Me Boring?"
Again, because we have a serious case of FOMO, commitment-phobes will fear that settling down with someone is somehow a copout on the more "exciting" or "adventurous" alternative of being single. In reality, we know commitment can actually be even riskier — which is precisely why we're so afraid of it.
If we're lucky, though, our SO puts up with all our crap and convinces us it's worth it to stick around — for now, anyway.
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