Why We Fear Commitment


We develop a fear for commitment when we see that the relationship we’re in is very likely to continue for a good amount of time. We subsequently realize that if we’re going to stay in the relationship, our commitment can only, by traditional relationship logic, grow. “Oh shit,” we think. “We might just be… in over our heads.” Then comes near panic and cliché feelings of being trapped.

After the seed has been planted, our fear of commitment begins to rear its ugly head intermittently. Poignant moments during which there’s nothing more we want to do than to get out of the apartment and be alone. Feelings of “being stifled,” “needing our space,” and seeing our partner as “too emotionally needy.” Emails written to our friends that are way more emotional than we’ve been to our partners lately. Etc.

The seed grows into an unfortunate new reality that we must regularly take into consideration. It develops factual intricacies that further define its terror: there can be no satisfactory time limit to commitment, commitment until things get rough is not commitment, certain parts of the world are now off-limits, compromise has replaced idealism, boredom is contextually normal, no more sex with ANYONE ELSE. “Real commitment” is exactly that.

In an effort to dismiss commitment we redefine it. We delude ourselves regarding its meaning: “I will stay with him until I feel like breaking up.” “I will be committed to her until I move to NYC.” “I’m committed to this relationship for now.” But with these declarations we know that we are lying to ourselves. We know that thinking about commitment in such a way is simply touting a belief but only when it’s convenient. Being vegan but eating meat whenever we crave it. Being an atheist and asking for God’s forgiveness on our deathbed. Wearing a Che shirt in a Starbucks.

Real commitment is, well, real commitment, and when we talk about real commitment, we refer to staying in the relationship until every possibility has been exhausted, to resorting to a break up only after there’s simply nothing else imaginable, to giving the benefit of the doubt to the ‘goodness’ of the relationship, no matter how many fights have been had.

We refer to accepting contentment instead of intensity, regular sex instead of anticipatory sex, normality instead of spontaneity, responsibility instead of selfishness; all these for an indefinite and theoretically limitless amount of time.

We’re afraid of commitment because commitment is authentic, and we’re intimidated by authenticity because authenticity is all or nothing. We’re scared of all or nothing because all or nothing is unreasonable. We’re afraid of commitment because, as told by many, commitment is death, the end of an entity, a new beginning. Commitment is a choice. Commitment is one of the only significant gambles we will ever make, and if we haven’t chosen wisely, there’s no recouping our losses.

You should follow Thought Catalog on Twitter here.

image – Pierre Auguste Cot