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Commitment Issues in a Relationship

April 3rd, 2019


“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”

- Peter F. Drucker

What is a Commitment?

When we talk about the word commitment it is generally associated with strong feelings of adoration that creates dedication and devotion. A commitment might be connected to an activity, hobby, a work meeting, or even a social function. Emotionally speaking, a commitment between two intimately involved people can become a much more complicated type of commitment, especially when both parties are not willing to commit.

Making a Commitment

When two people are in a committed relationship it usually hints at the seriousness and exclusivity factor of the partnership. Whether the two people are exclusively dating, domestic partners, engaged, or married, commitment can universally speak out as a form of public dedication to one another. Below are the following ways in which two people may show or prove their commitment to one another:

  • Exclusively dating
    • One person may ask the other person to be their boyfriend or girlfriend
    • Also known as “going steady”
  • Domestic Partners
    • When two people join together in a lifestyle that involves living together in the same residence
    • These people are typically in an exclusive relationship with one another, but are not legally bound by marriage
  • Engaged
    • Formally asking your partner to get married in the near future
    • Often times is coupled with the presentation of a piece of commitment jewelry, such as an engagement ring, to signify to the public that they are “taken”
  • Married
    • The formal union of two people
    • Typically celebrated with a ceremony and reception before family and friends or in front of a court setting
    • Both partners will usually exchange wedding vows and wedding rings to publicize their union

Reasons for Commitment Issues in a Relationship

As we all know, relationships are not easy. It takes hard work and dedication in order to have a successful partnership. Issues can arise at the beginning, middle, or end of a relationship. One of these issues can be that of commitment; which can come up at different points throughout the relationship as well. We usually think of a commitment being commenced at the start of a relationship. Although this can be true, many times uneasiness about a commitment in the beginning can become a constant issue and concern throughout the relationship. Reasons why people may have trouble making a commitment to their significant other might include:

  • Parent’s divorce
    • Hard time overcoming the trauma of a broken family can make a person fearful commitment and making the same mistakes as their parents
  • Past relationships
    • Previous relationships can leave a lasting impression, especially if they did not end well
    • Sometimes a person may not feel ready to commit if they are not fully over their ex
  • Trust
    • Being able to trust another person with their level of commitment is a risk when you are entering a new relationship
    • Uncertainty about trusting another person, or even yourself, can influence the ability to want to commit
  • Fear
    • Of the relationship not working out
    • Losing independent lifestyle
  • Attachment issues
    • The way in which you connect and attach to a person may create anxiety about wanting to commit in the first place
    • 4 types of attachment styles
      • Secure attachment
        • Feelings of ease and safety in a relationship that provides oneself with both independence and dependence in a relationship
      • Anxious-preoccupied attachment
        • Feelings of anxiety within the relationship which cause people to constantly seek more from their partners which ultimately drives them further away
      • Dismissive-avoidant attachment
        • Physically distancing oneself from your partner in order to seek more independence can create a barrier and passiveness within the relationship
      • Fearful-avoidant attachment
        • Uncertainty about what a person wants from the relationship; the person tends to be indecisive about wanting to be too close or too distant from their partner
  • Not wanting to settle down
    • Living the bachelor life can have its perks and some people are not willing to give that up
    • The fear of losing the life they know and are comfortable with
Young couple having relationship difficulties, shallow depth of field focus on foreground

Fear of Commitment & Mental Health

There can be long term effects with regard to having a fear of commitment. These effects can impact one’s mental health especially if the commitment issues stem from past experiences such as their parent’s divorce or traumatic past relationships. People who have long standing commitment issues may end up suffering from any of the following mental health concerns:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Mood disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

It is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know might be suffering from any of the above mental health issues.

Effects of Commitment Issues on Partners

It is evident that commitment issues can have it’s string of issues for the person having trouble committing. However, it can also have its own set of issues on the other side -- for the person wanting the commitment. If one person in the relationship wants commitment from their partner but is not receiving it, they can experience feelings of:

  • Sadness and depression
  • Worry and concern about the future of the relationship
  • Insecurity if they are doing something wrong within the relationship
  • Fear of talking too much about it, as it may create more distance

How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship while Dealing with Commitment Issues...

It is important to work on the relationship even among commitment issues. If both partners are willing to participate in the relationship, it shows that there is hope. Try out some of the following tips for maintaining and improving a relationship status:

  1. Communication
    • Remain open and honest about your hopes and desires for the relationship
  2. Remain positive and hopeful about the relationship
  3. Listen to your partner’s worries and concerns
  4. Try finding some compromise so everyone feels comfortable within the relationship
  5. Talk to close friends and family for support, but do not publicize the commitment issues as this could create more distance and distrust within the relationship
  6. Seek professional help
    • Couples counseling therapy
    • Individual therapy


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