You can overcome commitment phobia
Relationship anxiety is something that is seen often enough these days possibly because witnessing a friend or a known person going through a bad break up experience can easily be applied to one’s own self and relationship
Aren't we all a product of our past experiences? However, in some cases a few experiences of the past that may also be traumatic dictate your relationship with friends and loved ones.
Many find it difficult to commit themselves to a stable relationship. Help is just a call away to a professional. Meanwhile, our experts suggest ways to overcome your fears:
- am a 27-year-old man, an IT professional doing extremely well in my profession
- live with my mother, a single parent. My father was an extremely abusive person and I still have nightmares about how he treated us. My mother is a very brave person who has worked hard to raise me. My problem is with relationships.
- cannot seem to commit to anyone. I feel claustrophobic after a while and look for reasons to wriggle out of the relationship. This happened multiple times and I feel guilty.
- have met and had relationships with many really good people but in a few months, I start getting anxious and restless. I'm really losing out on a good chance of having a wonderful life. Why am I like this? Please help.
- This is what we normally refer to as a 'commitment phobia' or 'relationship anxiety', when a person feels the need to enter a relationship, but cannot commit to the partner, or stay in a relationship for long.
Even as the need for a relationship increases, the feelings of anxiety around the relationship intensify and the unconscious behavior of finding problems or creating them becomes a pattern leading to breaking up.
In your case the experience of your father leaving and witnessing your mother's pain and your own sense of abandonment as a child, could have triggered this need to avoid painful experiences of being abandoned or others breaking up with you.
So, the pattern could be that you want to experience a relationship and enjoy it, but the accompanying deep-down fears and anxiety could have been leading to sometimes ignoring the commonly understood facts of mismatch. So, the trial-and-error mode continues to persist. Glad that you are reaching out for guidance!
It is important to acknowledge if you experience trust issues around somebody being actually committed to you.
Relationship anxiety is something that is seen often enough these days possibly because witnessing a friend or a known person going through a bad break up experience can easily be applied to one's own self and relationship.
It is important to introspect and maybe seek help to understand your own thoughts, feelings and behavior around the concept of a relationship and the commitment to it.
It may be possible that your thoughts could be quite inflexible or illogical about some expectations, and an ideal person should fulfill some conditions or pass some 'test situation' that you create.
Feelings may swing from being too emotionally needy to being emotionally absent to keep oneself safe if anything goes wrong, which can make the other person react negatively.
Behaviour may be seen as being controlling or being unnecessarily liberal wherein the other person is left wondering if they are in a relationship or not. I also ask you to think about what you are communicating, and whether you expect others to guess your emotions.
As one can understand, these kind of situations are bound to cause a lot of challenging situations there by leading to anxiety and worry. This in turn may propel a person to conclude that the relationship is not the right one. It is useful to seek professional help to understand this. All the best!
-Dr Vasuprada Kartic,
Anthroposophic counsellor and Psychotherapist.
Being brought up by a single parent, who has been abused isn't easy and I feel she has done a great job at educating you and giving you a good start in life. Putting her trauma aside wouldn't have been easy for her.
Think about your childhood - was she an anxious mother? Did she inculcate moral values in you? Did she Express her fears about you turning out to be an abusive person like your father? Did you feel that you should always be "good"?
You also said that you have nightmares about how he treated you both. It must have been extremely traumatic for both of you. Your nightmares about him, the undercurrent of not wanting to turn out like him and being there for your mother emotionally must have taken its toll on you.
Some studies say that these circumstances can cause a mental exhaustion and while you crave the affection and comfort, you are holding back subconsciously from rendering your affection wholeheartedly.
Outwardly it might seem like you are bored or commitment shy and people may misunderstand you to be shallow or superficial.
There are also many studies that say that children who have faced trauma in their childhood develop certain personality traits. In your case, growing up without a friendly father figure, traumatic memories and watching your mother struggle could have created this predicament where you have relationship and commitment issues.
What can one do about it?
- A few suggestions
- Don't look for romance immediately. Instead, look for friendship and emotional comfort in a relationship first. As the comfort grows, so will your emotions towards healthy lasting love.
- Read books on personality development and see if there is something you can work on.
- Don't be in a hurry to jump into physical relationships. Concentrate on the mental/ emotional aspects.
- Look for common ground in interests, likes and dislikes etc.
- Write down what you like about her, maintain a daily journal of your feelings.for her and also about other things.
- Make a list of what you like about yourself; build on that; list not so great aspects of your personality; see how you can overcome those or develop those into positive traits. This is also a process of acquainting yourself with your inner self so that you are more in control of your thoughts, actions and emotions.
- Your past wasn't your fault. Stop letting that dictate your future.
- Discuss your feelings with the lady with who you are in a relationship with. Take her help in keeping you motivated to work on the relationship.
- Lastly do take professional help. Those nightmares can be disturbing and could be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD where past trauma can cause psychological stress, anxiety and depression amongst other psychiatric issues.
A mental health professional can help you deal with the trauma and the fearsome memories too.
Lastly, Don't judge yourself due to all this. Adopt an open-minded approach to your issues and I'm sure you will be able to overcome this soon.