Love, Self

Why Commitment Can Be Terrifying For Women (And How To Get Over Your Fears)

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Why Commitment Can Be TERRIFYING For Women

Men have gotten a bad rap about commitment issues. The reality is, women also fear commitment. A lot of independent and successful women have doubts about committing to one person for the rest of their lives. 

The ways in which a fear of commitment in women shows up may be harder to detect than with men, who often appear to be permanent bachelors or "players". Some examples of how fear of commitment is displayed in women are:

  • She says she wants to find a great guy to settle down with, yet she dates the same guys with different faces and has short-term connections.
  • She attracts guys who want something temporary instead of a long-term relationship.
  • She seeks perfection in a partner; even if he’s a good guy, if he doesn’t have everything she wants, she uses that as a convenient reason to leave.
  • She is afraid to put herself fully into love and has one foot out of any relationship.
  • She self-sabotages things, weakening her connection and relationship with her man.
  • She approaches a promising relationship with an exit plan in case things don’t work out.
  • She gets engaged thinking if things don’t work out, she can always get a divorce.

RELATED: I Finally Ditched My Commitment Issues — By Creeping On My Man (Oops)

There are three big reasons you may fear commitment. If commitment issues run deep, you may feel like this:

  • Afraid of being trapped and controlled
  • Scared of a loss of independence and freedom
  • Afraid of choosing the wrong person and making a big mistake

So how do you really know if commitment scares you? The quickest way to know is if you tend to sabotage a good thing, have excuses for dates, romantic relationships and love not working out, or if you run away from sticky situations instead of sticking around to resolve them.

For me, my fears around commitment manifested at an early age. In middle school, I heard my mom downstairs in the kitchen sighing loudly, while banging her pots and pans. 

My young mind made her situation mean, “She’s mad at my dad and feels trapped and controlled. She can’t leave because her financial well-being depends on him.” (The reality is, my mom could have been going through menopause and that’s what caused her reaction.) 

At that young age, I promised myself I would never be controlled by a man and rely on him for my financial well-being. I kept my promise and positioned myself to be successful in my career. I was promoted to positions of greater responsibility from large corporations to small organizations. I was responsible, financially stable, and completely able to support myself.  

In my love life, I dated many good men and had relationships with some. I told friends I wanted to meet a great guy and get married. But in real life, I hesitated in putting myself fully out there and ended up holding back, thinking, “If things don’t work out, it will be less painful.”

But I learned a lot from my fear of commitment. First, when you don’t fully put yourself out there and things don’t work out, it will still be painful. You’re left with “what if’s” and the regret of “Did I do everything I could have? If only I had said or done XYZ...”

Second, while it’s satisfying to be completely self-sufficient, it feels very lonely not having someone special to share life with. Despite your success and ability to support yourself, life feels empty when there’s no one to wrap their arms around you and listen when you have exciting news or have an off day. 

Third, if you fear commitment in your love life, and are easily able to commit in other parts of your life, you may not realize you’re afraid of commitment when it comes to love. Ultimately, being able to care for yourself financially and be in a committed relationship (if that’s what you desire) with the right person is ideal.

Unaware of my fears of commitment and how deeply rooted those fears were, I just thought I hadn’t met the right man. I was able to easily commit in other areas of my life, so it didn’t occur to me that commitment in love was a big issue for me. 

RELATED: How Long You Should Wait For A Man To Commit (According To An Expert)

But two painful breakups with the man I dearly loved led me to the realization that, for me, commitment meant being trapped and controlled. When I realized that, a big weight lifted off of my shoulders because I had something to work with.    

I asked myself, “How can I shift my belief about commitment in a way that will support me in having the love I desire? What can I believe to be as true (or more) than my original belief?” 

The belief I landed on was, “Commitment is a place where I’m free to be loved and supported for who I am.” As I sat with and embraced my new belief, my love life started to shift. More men who wanted a long-term relationship showed up. And remember the two breakups with the man I dearly loved? Well, he came back and made me his wife.

If you know or sense you’re afraid of commitment, here are some things you can do to begin loosening up those fears:

  • Complete an unfinished project or activity that has been lingering for a while.
  • If you think you can’t commit to anything, look for evidence that you can by looking for things, situations or people you’ve committed to. These will serve as a reminder you have the ability to commit.
  • If you have a hard time committing to something, start by choosing one small thing and do it.
  • Uncover your story around commitment (i.e., what it represents and means to you; how it’s affected your life in love and other aspects of your life) and come up with a different belief about commitment that positively supports you.

If the thought of committing to something scares you because you don’t want to make a mistake, here’s a different perspective about mistakes to consider:  When you don’t do something because you don’t want to make a mistake, you won’t ever fully live and experience all that life has to offer. 

Also, what if there are no mistakes in life? What if there are only things we do and decisions we make that give us results? If you can adopt that perspective and don’t like the results you get, next time you can do and decide differently. 

It’s true that commitment isn’t something to take lightly. And it’s also true that when you don’t commit, your fears of commitment will drive your love life and perpetuate the cycle of men and relationships not working out. 

You can have the lasting love you’ve always desired. Just take small steps to shift and release your fears around commitment.

RELATED: There's No Such Thing As 'Making' A Man Commit (& Why It Always Ends In A Broken Heart)

Janet Ong Zimmerman is the founder of Love for Successful Women, and creator of the Woo Course: 9 Juicy Ways to Bring Out a Man's Desire to Woo You. She helps successful women experience love with ease and clarity. Take the Does He Woo You? quiz and learn if he is wooing, dating or using you.