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Trying to Change My Commitment-phobic Ways

I am a 20 year old, young woman and I am scared of making a commitment. I am currently in therapy to get over my fears, which apply not only to romance and dating, but also affect other areas of my life (school, planning for my career, friendships, simple decisions and responsibilities). I want love. I want intimacy. But whenever I feel like things are getting too serious, like someone is getting too close, I feel the need to run away... the need to push them away.

I know why I do this. There's a history of bad marriages/relationships in my family. My paternal grandparents divorced, my maternal grandparents are separated (they don't talk to each other to this day), my aunt has had a series of unstable relationships (she became pregnant early, was in an abusive marriage, now divorced), my uncle emotionally abuses his life partner, and my parents are emotionally divorced (still married and live together, but there's no real love between them).

That said, I haven't had many examples of stable, happy marriages. Marriage seems doomed. I know this isn't the case. I know that happy marriages do exist and I hope to have one. But I just feel so much anxiety about choosing the "right person." How can you ever know if they are the right person? What if you decide and later it turns out to be terrible? Perhaps it would be better not to try at all...

Except I do want intimacy. I do want love. I long to be able to dote on someone... just the "right" one.

My fears are currently very high. I have liked someone for months now and now know that he feels the same way toward me and am trying my hardest to resist pushing him away now that I know how he feels. It just all feels so... serious, especially since we are both Christian and Christian dating tends to be focused on dating toward marriage. I noticed that after I learned that he is interested in me, I started thinking about him less and didn't want to talk to him. And I was actually a little annoyed when he tried to talk to me.

We are taking things slow, but this would be my first dating relationship. If I let this get serious, how would I ever know if this is right, since I won't have any other dating experience to compare it against? I just don't want to make the wrong decision. And at the same time... I feel guilty about my confusion because I don't want to continue to lead him on if I'm going to end up hurting him in the end.

But I am working with my psychologist because I know that it is unhealthy to be this fearful. It limits my ability to live a happy and confident life, and therefore limits my ability to achieve God's plan for my life.

I MUST defeat this.

emme932 emme932 18-21 3 Responses May 10, 2009

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You are right 20 is young indeed. You say you have commitment phobia, and you have certainly given it enough thought and study to know. But you may have one other problem in addition, you sim ply have not yet met your sole mate yet. But You don't have to decide just between "Marry" and "goodbye". You could, for example, be friends with no expectation of being exclusive. There are other possibilities you may want to consider, and if Christian dating is too much like that, then maybe Christian dating is not meeting your needs.
A generation ago, or maybe two, before electronics, a spouse might have been chosen from all those who you knew in your high school, or college. In that case, you knew much more about your peers, and how they usually interacted. Those days will probably never be with us again. but you can find other situations where you might get to know prospects in a more informal and complete way, and where you might be able to be friends with multiple friends, before you have to select one for dating.
Take your time and don't rush into marriage. In fact you don't have to get married at all. A few generations ago, getting married meant that you would be assured that you would spend the rest of your days with the same partner that you began the marriage with. But today that is no longer true. More marriages are dissolved now days, than stay together. Bottom line is that your marriage will not hold you two together, Unless you have chosen the right partner in the first place.

I'm also 20 and Christian. My mom has had a few divorces. I've had lots of boyfriends, and always find a reason to not be happy and I run for the hills. When I'm single I want a relationship, but when I'm in a relationship I want to be single. I want to end up like my grandparents who have loved each other for 50 years, but I just can't commit to someone. I don't know why, but I just can't. I even wonder if I'm meant to be alone. The one thing I've wanted my entire life is to be a mom, but I need a husband to do that. Granted I'm still too young for children, I still can't see myself taking that stepping stone to marriage. I understand how you feel.

Hmmm, girl let me tell you that I feel your pain. I am 102% Commitment Phobic. A person can be the best person in the whole freaking world for me, and still, once we click and it's out there, it's like Wow what the hell just happened? Everything falls out from underneath me and I'm left scrambling for loving feelings of that person again, forcing myself to try to remember their face and the fuzzy feelings I had for them just minutes ago... but too late. I'm clambering on for scraps, living a lie, putting on a brave face playing a role and reading a sc<x>ript trying to be a great girlfriend, but inside I feel empty; detached; angry and pressured. Anxious and upset, wanting to break free. It's a miserable life being commitment phobic; you want intimacy, you want love, but at the same time you hate it when it comes your way; not by choice. Not by anything completely rational either... just... your feelings change =/ And it's an unfortunate thing. As for me, I have not figured out how to change my way of thinking/feeling, and right now I have a great girl in my life who I wish I could date but... already my feelings have started changing. Maybe we can start an online support group or something. I really want to connect with others on this painful issue =/ Hope things have gone well for you thus far. - Diana