Love & Life Single-dom

How To Spot And Avoid A Commitment-Phobe

Commitment-phobeOf all the love affairs you may come across, a romance with a person who is afraid of commitment is perhaps the most toxic to your self-esteem.

Yet so many of us end up craving love from someone who is unwilling or unable to really be there in the way we need.

With the commitment-phobe, there is an intrinsic allure: on one hand, the romance is so real. There appears to be real chemistry and the possibility of a long-lasting relationship. Naturally, you may think, “My girl (or guy) only needs time. Soon she (or he) will see how desirable I am.”

Ultimately though, you will end up giving and giving, and the commitment-phobe will take and take, and at the end of it all, you are left with nothing to show for it. Use the guidelines in this post to identify and avoid a commitment-phobe at all costs.

What Is A Commitment-Phobe?

There is a difference between an ambivalent partner and a commitment-phobe. Whereas the ambivalent partner eventually loses interest and fades away after a period, the commitment-phobe hooks you in and keeps you in a romantic purgatory – sometimes for years.

A commitment-phobe is a person who is literally afraid of intimacy and romantic obligation; yet, at the same time, he or she harbors an insatiable need for your romantic approval. As a result, you are caught in a game of yes-no-maybe-so, which is confusing and hurtful.

The commitment-phobe might have low self-esteem or conceal an unresolved problem with a parent or might be going through a mid-life phase of commitment-phobia or might have a Peter Pan problem. Ultimately, the reason does not matter – it’s all a waste of your time.

What matters is that you get out as soon as you can.  

Below are key indicators that signal that you are entering a relationship with a commitment-phobic man or woman.

1. He or she shows you at the beginning of the relationship that he or she can’t handle exclusivity.

I once had a date with an eligible, 30-something photographer that I knew from work. He was eager to take me out to dinner, and frequently told me that I was a “special” kind of woman , making me blush. On our first date, however, he explained his philosophy on love and relationships:

“My love can’t be limited to a single person,” he said. “I have so much love to give that it overflows like a glass of water and I need an extra cup. But, you see, that means that there’s plenty of water go around!”

I didn’t bother to order another drink.

While not all commitment-phobes reveal their proclivities blatantly, you should still be able to discern commitment-phobia if they can effortlessly justify being romantically involved with other people. In the beginning of a romance, it’s easy to overlook the obvious signs of commitment-phobia, but don’t delude yourself. Leave yourself open and ready for a man or woman who shares your desires and has an open heart.

2. You are giving your love and he or she is returning nothing, except great sex.

I think this is the most challenging aspect of a romance with a commitment-phobe. Commitment-phobes are actually quite good at romance. The emotions run deep and the romance is intense.  I think this is because they thrive on affirmation, rendering the romance extremely intense and passionate.

The truth is that you and your commitment-phobic partner are not meeting each other as secure partners. Rather, the romance is akin to parasite and host. The commitment-phobic person uses you for passion, affection, and attention, but is unable to return it in a substantial way because there is a hollowness inside of them. Read Kimberly’s 4 lessons about men.

3. He or she pulls you extremely close, and then he or she pushes you far away.

Because you’re the giver in a commitment-phobic relationship, you’re fulfilling the other person’s need for attention. When he (or she) feels that he’s gotten what he needs, he disappears. When he disappears, he might seek another parter to “feed” on or be okay as a footloose bachelor(ette).

Don’t justify this behavior. A real parter remains in steady, reasonable communication with you consistently. A person who likes you is happy to hear from you. Even when busy, he or she will find a way to make time for you. If you are looking for a real partner, then seek someone who is not interested in keeping you on a hook. Read more about how to tell when a romantic partner is truly interested in you.

4. He or she is drawn to the allure of the chase.

The playing-hard-to-get-game is the yin of the commitment-phobe’s yang. By playing hard to get, you feed the commitment-phobe’s need to be validated. His or her chase for your attention is directly associated with his or her sense of self-worth, which is often quite low deep down. Likewise, your self-esteem will suffer because his or her behavior implies that you are best when you are not around.

Rather than playing hard to get, I find it’s best to lead a full and exciting life, filled with independent activities that bring me joy, such as learning new skills, traveling, or spending time with loved ones. From that place of joy, I invite potential partners into my private world at a reasonable pace, and gauge their reaction.

Whereas the commitment-phobe plays a game of push-pull and I’ll-call-you-next-week-but-then-I’m-too-busy-but-wait-don’t-be-mad, the realistic partner enjoys the process of getting to know you, and at an appropriate pace, eases you into his or her world.

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