Jackie, I need some relationship advice. My friend says I have a fear of commitment because I break up with my boyfriend every time he talks about moving in together or marriage. Do you think she is right?
It is difficult to answer this question without knowing more details such as:
Have you ever been married before?
How old are both of you?
How long have you known each other?
Do you have the same long-term goals and dreams?
Are you truly happy in the relationship?
These are all important factors when it comes to knowing if getting married is right for you. That said, here are my thoughts, in general about knowing if you have a fear of commitment or if you are just with the wrong person.
There are a lot of men and women out there who have fear of commitment, and all have different reasons for it. Here are a few:
1. They have a troubled past/childhood.
I know a man whose parents divorced when he was a kid, and because his experience was so painful – watching his parents’ marriage deteriorate and then seeing them go through a horrendous divorce, he is very afraid of getting married and having kids.
2. They have been hurt in a past relationship.
Maybe someone felt so much pain in a past relationship, or felt abandoned, and they can’t fathom trusting someone again.
3. They don’t want to be divorced again.
Some people have fear of commitment for the sole purpose that they don’t want to take the risk of having to go through a second divorce. So, the solution to them is to just avoid marriage. Maybe it would feel shameful to be divorced twice, or maybe they just don’t want to take that chance.
I do have another strong theory about fear of commitment: Maybe you’re with the wrong person.
Maybe this woman keeps breaking up with the guy, not because she is fearful of committing, but because she doesn’t want to commit to HIM.
In my heart, I believe that if two people truly love each other, neither of them will break it off because they can’t bear being apart. It’s as simple as that. Now, do I know several couples who broke up before they eventually got back together and got married? Yes. Maybe some couples need to be break up to realize the depth of their love and commitment. But, in this woman’s case, it sounds like she is has distanced herself multiple times with this man. She should ask herself why she has been willing to let him go more than once.
Several years ago, I was in a very long-term relationship, and for some reason, marrying this person did not feel right to me. Something in my gut told me not to go through with it. I came pretty close to getting engaged, and then broke up.
A lot of my friends would say, “You’re just scared because you are divorced. This will be different than your marriage.”
At the time, I wasn’t sure if they were right, but I knew one thing: For whatever reason, I had fear of commitment, and so going through with it was the wrong thing to do.
Turns out, I didn’t have fear of commitment after all. After we broke up, a few months later, I began dating the man I’m with now. It’s been several years and if he asked me to marry him I would in a heartbeat. It’s a very very different feeling. It’s a feeling in my gut of deep love, trust, and commitment–whether we get married or not is irrelevant.
Back to this woman’s situation, only time will tell whether she has fear of commitment or if this guy just isn’t the one.
She could end up getting engaged or moving in with the boyfriend. She could then either realize she had a fear that was unwarranted and live happily ever after, or she could end up moving out, breaking off the engagement, or worst of all, getting divorced because she made the wrong decision and didn’t listen to her gut.
Another possibility is that if she breaks it off with this guy, takes some time for herself–not just a couple weeks, but a real significant amount of time, she might have a better idea of what she really wants with this guy.
In closing, living with someone and being married is not easy. So many divorced men and women I know will tell you they had doubts before they were married, but that they went through with it anyhow. That is definitely something to think about. But personally, I can attest to the fact that your heart and your gut tell you what to do. They tell you if the problem with committing is YOU or if the problem is the person you are with. You owe it to yourself to listen to these two things.