There are many reasons why you may be scared of committing to a relationship, mainly down to the attachment style you have (probably avoidant), your beliefs about relationships and your relationship with yourself.
But what are some tell-tale signs that you are doing so? Here are a few to be aware of so that you can do some work in order to change it.
You like to keep things casual all of the time. Yes, all of the time. It is ok to keep it this way at times, depending on what you want and where you are in your life, but to keep every relationship in the friends with benefits space means that you struggle to be with people at a deeper level and are only comfortable in surface relationships.
This first point is likely to be because you have what is called an Insecure Attachment Style and the style you have is called a Dismissive Avoidant.
Attachment Theory was first proposed by John Bowlby in the 1950’s and there has been a lot of research since that backs up the ideas, plus explaining how this can lead to increases in depression, anxiety, eating disorder, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as some personality disorders.
The avoidant style proposes that, as a child you learnt to shut your emotions away and disconnect from the person who you believed was causing you emotional pain. Now, keeping relationships at a surface level only enables you to protect yourself from the possibility of getting hurt, should you connect with anyone at a deeper level.
By understanding your attachment and working on overcoming these barriers, you can start to entertain the idea of closer relationships without your brain needing to jump in and protect you.
To discover your attachment style, please visit my website where you can take a 5-minute quiz and find out. The link is in the notes.
You can even sign up to one of my attachment workshops to find out more – email me for information on these.
You find it hard to consider the future of your relationships.
You do this because you don’t want to look too far into the future when being with someone. To do so makes you feel uneasy and likely want to lock these thoughts away or you will run away.
A step-by-step approach is required here and quite possibly baby steps too.
Looking too far into the future and all that this may bring triggers something inside of you that makes you want to stop where you are. Taking it slowly, not reading too much into things, going with the flow and working on the fears that you feel will help when you start to get jittery about committing long term to someone.
You often look for faults or question the relationship.
You may be close to someone, even feel connected and happy, but you can’t switch off the questions: ‘Do they really love me’, ‘can I trust them’, ‘where is this going’. Or find faults in what they do or say in order to break the connection and create doubt in your mind.
It may seem obvious, but rather than looking for faults, look for the positives in your relationship. The faults you do pick up on are usually quite minor anyway and just a way of allowing you to disengage. Look at the bigger picture of the person you are with, all the things you have in common and are the fundamental things you need for a happy healthy relationship present.
You’re fearful of getting hurt. Aren’t we all though I hear you ask?
Well, to a certain degree yes. We would all like to avoid painful relationships, if possible, but you have been hurt before and your fear of getting burned again stops you entertaining the idea of getting too close to someone.
Pain is a horrible place and your fear of loss is driving you to retreat into a “safe space” or what you deem to be a safe space. Likely the space you retreated into as a child to escape the pain you were experiencing. I say it in commas, because it isn’t actually very safe, but withdrawn and will keep you returning when your fears arise, keeping you disconnected.
Stop looking for ways in which this person can hurt you, but rather how they make you happy. Are they doing things that you need to be wary of? If not then work on building trust in them and also in yourself. One thing that can cause a lack of trust is a lack of belief in yourself, that you deserve good things and are bound to be disappointed, so be nice to yourself as well as your partner.
You convince yourself that you don’t want to commit and are better off on your own.
What are your thoughts around commitment? What does that word tend to mean and the act actually entail in your mind? What do you fear you will need to give up? What are you worried about losing? Compromises you will need to make? These concerns will stop you from being able to commit.
Your safe space is at play here too. When you learnt to deal with heartache you decided that being by yourself is a much safer place to be, but actually just keeps you disconnected and lonely. Tell yourself you are ready to connect and commit, using self-soothing techniques in order to be able to overcome your fears.
You find it hard to be open with others.
You can be cold and standoffish when it comes to sharing your emotions and inner most thoughts with someone who is trying to get closer to you. This can feel like a very vulnerable place and so you switch off as this can be far too scary a place for you to entertain.
Start to be comfortable in being vulnerable. A lot of people see vulnerability as a weakness or that you are opening up. just to be hurt. Turn this around and tell yourself that being vulnerable means you are being open and brave, that emotionally open people are strong. Your relationship may not work out, but don’t let deter you as you will be ok either way.
You sabotage relationships.
Yes, you! When you find it hard to commit to someone you will look for any reason to keep that distance or get away from the relationship entirely. You need to keep a healthy space (for you at least), between you and so you do something that creates that. Going out with friends more often, going on dating sites or even dating other people, being horrible in order to push the other person away, whatever you can do to mess things up.
This could be because of the past experiences you have had in relationships, them never working out, that they are going to fail, they are going to leave you and so you pre-empt this by making it fail on your terms. At least there will be a tangible reason for it and you are heading off hurt before it can get to you.
You may not know how to handle someone being nice to you, loving you and wanting to be with you and so you reject this space and do something to show that you are unlovable or undeserving. Looking at your relationship with yourself is a must and knowing what relationship beliefs you are clinging onto will help you to stop the sabotaging behaviour and allow yourself to love and be loved as you really deserve.
In a deeply connected and fulfilling relationship.
These are areas that I cover in my coaching sessions, so please do reach out if you have had enough of not being able to express yourself, be in love or connected to others and know that things in your life really must change for you to experience the relationships you really want to.