Dating a commitment-phobe is hard. There’s no doubt about that.
While you’re trying your best to make the relationship work and are head over heels in love, they are so busy fighting their own battles and sabotaging the connection that they’re dooming the relationship from the get-go.
Okay, that sounded way too depressing – many people who are scared of commitment can overcome their fears and have a happy and long-lasting marriage (just look at Chandler Bing!), and while reaching that goal does take effort, it is possible.
However, fighting commitment phobia is *their* battle, not yours. All you can do is recognize whether you’re in a relationship with a commitment-phobe and establish if this is a dealbreaker or not.
Here are the 8 red flags.
1) Things seem to be moving extremely slowly
…and it’s getting on your nerves.
Don’t get me wrong, some couples like to take things slow. It may take them six years to buy a house and eight to marry. But as long as they’re both on the same page, there’s nothing wrong with slow progression.
The issue comes when you’re not only on different pages but in different books entirely. While you’re ready to move in together, buy a puppy, get married, and settle down, your partner is still struggling to accept the idea of a relationship in the first place.
The pace at which you both want to be moving is so fundamentally different that it gives rise to problem after problem, fight after fight, until your partner’s lack of motivation eventually forces you to give up.
But if you’re in a relationship with someone you love, the last thing you want to be doing is trying to convince them that you’re worth the commitment.
It’s good to be patient and give your partner enough space, but there also comes a point when they ought to make a move. If nothing happens for years and years… you might be dating a commitment-phobe.
2) You’re scared of spooking your partner with the magnitude of your love
I dated a commitment-phobe once, and what I noticed most about our relationship was how fragile the whole dynamic felt.
One wrong step, and he’d scatter like a dandelion in the wind. One push too many, and he’d pull away.
No matter how much space I gave him, how much I tuned down my expressions of love, and how patient I was when it came to making big decisions and plans, I still walked on eggshells, and what’s more, I felt subdued and trapped, as if all the love I had to give had to be fenced in.
Then I realized that the right person would embrace everything that you are and would cherish the magnitude of your love. If you have to filter yourself when you’re around your partner because your authentic self may scare them away… they might not be the best match fo you.
3) Your connection feels muffled
Many commitment-phobes struggle to commit on an emotional level, which means they subconsciously force a barrier between you and them, muffling your connection.
Where you want to share all your vulnerabilities and get to know each other’s past, they remain a closed book.
Where you strive to chat until 3 AM and engage in deep conversations, they would prefer to go to sleep.
It’s incredibly hard on their partners, yet plenty of commitment-phobes are so terrified of opening up to someone else that they’re willing to inflict that pain because any other alternative feels unsafe.
For them, disconnection is a coping mechanism. For you, it’s a question mark hanging above your relationship, making you want to tear your hair out in frustration.
4) You’re the only one to make plans
Oftentimes, dating someone who’s petrified of commitment means you have to carry the whole relationship on your shoulders and take initiative because they never would.
You’re the one to come up with date ideas and to make holiday plans. In the meanwhile, your partner either swiftly changes the topic each time you suggest a trip somewhere, or gives non-committal answers, such as “huh-uh” and “sure, maybe” and “why not”.
It can be very disheartening to get excited about the idea of some quality time together only for your partner to crush that excitement to dust, yet that’s exactly what often happens when you’re dating a commitment-phobe.
5) Arguments are a minefield
Here’s the thing about commitment-phobes – there isn’t just one single type.
While some run away from conflict every time they see it approaching, coming up with various excuses for why they can’t talk about it right now, others might actually cause arguments on purpose.
Because the conflict itself can function as a barrier between the two of you, cutting you off from each other.
What’s more, frequent arguments can give your partner a good enough reason to question the relationship and potentially break up, thereby avoiding the whole commitment business completely.
No matter if your partner fears conflict or uses it as a weapon, there’s a high chance they’re doing it because they aren’t ready to commit just yet and are subconsciously seeking an excuse to escape the burden of true and genuine devotion.
6) Your partner doesn’t put in the effort to work on their issues
Having a troubled attitude to conflict is but one of many self-sabotaging techniques. Another one is to destroy the relationship by doing nothing to fix the issues that bubble up.
Do you often feel like you keep stumbling upon the same obstacles over and over again?
Maybe your partner simply can’t get it into their head that you want them to help out and do more work around the house when you’re going through a tough time at work.
Maybe they keep waking you up at night with the sound of video games no matter how many times you’ve told them it’s rude and disrespectful.
Maybe they never keep their promises although you’ve explicitly told them how important it is to you that they keep their word.
Whatever issue it is, your partner may apologize and say they’ll work on it, only to never make a real change and keep getting on your nerves.
The reason? Well, it’s possible that they subconsciously want the relationship to fail, and so they just… don’t try to make it better.
Inaction is still action.
7) Their behavior is very inconsistent
The next red flag on our list is inconsistency. A partner who wants to give you their all won’t leave you hanging – that’s just the truth of things.
A commitment-phobe, on the other hand, might:
- Stop calling or texting for a few days out of nowhere
- Love-bomb you for a couple of weeks only to go AWOL soon after
- Show a genuine commitment to work on the relationship but slip back into old patterns after one week of trying
- Express a desire to take a big step forward and then change their mind at the last minute
Overall, dating someone like that is extremely unpredictable, locking you in a vicious cycle of excitement, hope, crushing disappointment, bitterness, and new-found hope yet again.
But no matter how many times you hope things will get better, they never do. Not in the long run.
8) Something’s always wrong
Not one month can go by without another problem popping up.
The relationship simply never feels easy, and while relationships do take work, they should bring more positives than negatives into your life.
And let’s be honest – this one doesn’t.
Your nervous system is dysregulated all the time because you’re not sure when your partner will pull away and when they’ll shower you with affection.
You keep on hoping things will get better, but they rarely do.
You’re torn between imagining the rest of your life with the person you love most in this world and recognizing that the idealized version of them in your head does not correspond to reality, because how could the love of your life run away from you each time you want to see true commitment?
It’s a whirlwind, that’s for sure.
But remember that while some commitment-phobes can work on their issues and get better, you should see some active progress. If you just keep on hoping, but nothing really changes after months or even years… it might be time to reevaluate the relationship.