Updated: Jan 11
Do you ever ask yourself, “Why can’t I commit in a relationships?” Or do you ask this question about your partner(s), wondering why THEY can’t commit to you?
If you have a desire for long term loving relationships, it can be confusing and agonizing if you keep running into the issue of commitment, either your own or your partner’s. It tears at your heart if you’ve finally found a partner that looks to be a wonderful match, but one or both of you still have trouble being in with both feet.
We have coached numerous couples and individuals about (fear of) commitment. Even though initially this issue is often difficult for people because it appears it will prevent them from having the kind of trust and intimacy they dream of, the process of working with commitment can often yield rewarding and powerful insights and results. So take heart, there’s hope.
I’ve had my own issues with commitment. Before I met Sonika, I was always in and out of relationships, and many of my partners (rightfully) told me I had commitment issues. As you’ll see below, I worked it out using one of the insights we present below.
In this post, we’ll give you 4 possible answers to the big “commitment question”. It turns out, there are actually good reasons why you or your partner would be hesitant to commit.
Before we jump into these 4 possible answers, also check out our mini-workshop To Commit Or Not To Commit. Because commitment is such a big topic in relationship, we designed this short course to address it directly and give you a process to follow to explore commitment and find your own clarity around it. This is like getting personal coaching from us, on your phone or computer, but much more affordable.
1. You don’t want to commit
You don’t really want to commit, but you might not be honest about it. There are all kinds of reasons why you might not really want to commit. You still have concerns about some aspect of your partner’s life or personality, or about how you two function as a couple. You may see problems that aren’t being addressed properly, and if they don’t get addressed, you don’t want to jump in with both feet.
But why would you not be totally honest about that? Especially if you’ve been in less-than-ideal relationships before, you might be desperate to finally meet the “One”, to finally have it work out (if you’re wondering if he or she is “the One”, listen to this podcast)
That desperation can make you overlook challenges and be reluctant to tell the truth about questions you still have about your partner or your relationship. But some part of you knows your doubts and questions, which then shows up as reluctance to commit fully.
The path forward here is to be honest about the concerns you have; to tell the truth about problems that need to be addressed. If you don’t know how to have conversations like that (many people don’t), contact us or someone else you trust for coaching or mentoring support.
2. You’re trying to commit before you’re ready
The dating process takes time. Building relationships takes time. There's no rule for how long it should take. It took Sonika and I two and a half years before we were both ready to commit fully to our relationship. If you’d asked me a year and a half into our dating process if I was ready to commit, I would have said, “Absolutely not”.
At that time, I could have told myself I had problems committing, which I had had in the past. But seen in retrospect, I could also have told myself that we were still in the process of building enough trust and connection for me to some day commit fully. That’s exactly what was going on, the natural process of building trust, intimacy and shared ideals about our future. .
You need recurrence to trust the “us” in relationship. You need experiences, both good and tough, with your partner before you can say, “We’ve been through enough … I trust us to work things out”. There’s no rule for how long that process “should” take. For some couples it takes a month, for some a year, for some many years.
If you try to commit before you’re ready, it’s going show up as a “commitment issue” when really, it’s just not time yet.
Watch this post as a video with Sonika & Christian:
3. You have commitment associated with something bad
For you and/or your partner, commitment may be associated, unconsciously, with something bad or painful. If you think back through your life, can you remember unfortunate, painful, or negative experiences with commitment? Did you get left by someone who didn’t have both feet in? Or did one of your parents leave? Perhaps you watched someone else go through a tough relationship breakdown?
In addition to what you can remember there might also be unconscious, forgotten incidents in your past that contributed to commitment being associated with pain or loss.
I mentioned above that I used to have commitment issues. For me, it was all about having commitment associated with loss of freedom. Without meaning to, I was thinking that if I really committed I would be trapped. That it would be the end of my freedom.
I don’t even have bad memories of people leaving me, but still, somehow this association lived strongly inside of me. When you think about commitment that way, it’s a purely negative thing, and it’s no wonder you want to avoid it.
Finally, your childhood contributed to creating a certain attachment style for you. If you or your partner have an anxious or avoidant attachment style, that too can show up as a commitment issue, making you ask that question again: “Why can’t I commit in a relationship?”
When you notice your own hesitancy to commit, it can actually be a great opportunity to examine your own beliefs and associations about commitment.
4. You don’t trust yourself
One of the issues Sonika has noticed in her own relationships is that her reluctance to committing often hinged upon her lack of trust in herself. She did not trust herself to make good decisions in relationships and to make good on whatever showed up down the line.
She always says that when she married me, it wasn’t just a commitment to me. It was a commitment to herself that she would make the right choices and be able to handle all the unpredictable curve balls that are bound to show up.
Can you relate to that?
Is your hesitancy to commit about not having the confidence that you will know what to do when things get difficult?
When you’re in a newer relationship it’s common to worry about all the problems that could show up down the line. Is he going to become emotionally unavailable? Are we going to have issues with intimacy in our marriage? Is she going to be micromanaging everything?
Whereas there is sound wisdom in addressing concerns you have up front – as we mentioned at the very beginning – it’s a fine line between that and second-guessing your own decisions. Hence, if you find yourself wondering, “Why can’t I commit?”, it could be about you developing your own sense of self, your self esteem, and your confidence.
If you’re in a commitment funk, don’t give up. See if any of the points above ring true for you, and keep working on it.
In our coaching, we have supported many individuals and couples to get clear about their commitment or lack thereof. Contact us if you'd like to explore commitment coaching. It's free to contact us and have a chat.
LoveWorks: We believe relationships are meant to be an empowering, fun, passionate, safe place to grow, love, and learn. Where we get to be more of who we are, not less. We know it’s not always easy, but it can definitely be easier! With our unique and practical approach to relationship, you learn how to resolve conflicts quickly and enjoy fulfilling intimacy for the rest of your life. To learn more or contact us, visit www.loveworkssolution.com.