What makes a person commitment-phobic?
First, for commitment-phobes, it can feel safer to keep a distance, especially if they’ve been hurt, betrayed or suffered a great loss. Also, they may resist commitment if they’ve had an abusive, critical or controlling parent who invaded their boundaries or smothered them.
Or they may fear losing themselves in a relationship with a partner who would require too much attention without their own needs being met. The secondary gain of staying single (for them) is avoiding these fears. Therefore, they may unconsciously prefer unrequited love to the vulnerable, soul-stretching work of emotional intimacy.
Once I fell hard for an emotionally unavailable younger man who’d just left a live-in relationship with a woman he couldn’t commit to. It was an obvious red flag that I blatantly disregarded. Why? Mostly because I was insanely attracted to him and craved physical contact.
Like many women, once we started making love, I bonded quickly. He, on the other hand, like many men, enjoyed the pleasure without bonding in the same way as I had. Finally, when we started getting too close and the relationship got too intense, he ran away from me.
How do you let go of your attraction to commitment-phobic people?
Succeeding at this goal requires that you be a realist and listen to logic, not the tugs of your heart or what you wish would be. The hard line you must take is to follow common sense and reason, not indulge in fantasy.
Here are six tips I present in my book, The Ecstasy of Surrender, to help you surrender your attraction to commitment-phobic people.
1. Declare your intention. Inwardly, tell yourself, “I am not powerless over my attraction to commitment phobic people. I am willing to do what’s necessary to change and find my soul-mate.”
2. Surrender your fantasies of what could be. Keep focusing on what is, instead of what you hope for. If the person is committed to someone else, keep reminding yourself of that. Don’t indulge in obsessing about how sexy or adorable the person is or how connected you feel. Say “no” to tantalizing fantasies, and “yes” to reality, even if it doesn’t match your desires.
3. Get to know someone before having sex. Bonding can occur more quickly for women than men during intercourse. Since men lack the same high levels of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, casual sex is possible for them. Also beware of potential love partners who are unevolved spiritually, emotionally or are simply charming narcissists. If you choose to go ahead with one of them, all I can say is good luck! Be prepared for pain, but learn from the lessons that come.
4. Let go of trying to “fix” partners or make them fulfill their potential. It is inappropriate to try to fix anyone. People don’t change just because you love, beg or threaten them. They must want to fix themselves and fulfill their own potential. Even then, change takes dedication. Don’t get seduced by the illusion of possibility. Releasing this illusion will keep you from losing years in pursuit of improving someone. It’s a sign of respect to allow people to be themselves. Seeing who your partner is, not just their “potential,” liberates you to make healthy choices.
5. Test the situation—create a conflict. To reveal someone’s true colors early on, I suggest provoking a small conflict and observe the reaction. For instance, say, “It makes me feel unheard if you cut me off. I would love it if you’d let me finish my thought.” If he or she can hear you and honor your wishes, that bodes well for intimacy. If the person gets defensive, critical or withdraws, that’s vital information too. I understand your reluctance to burst the blissful bubble of infatuation, but doing so, just a little, will help you determine how available your partner really is.
6. Treasure Yourself. You deserve to be treasured by a partner. But first, you must treasure yourself, the unique, sexy, and amazing person you are. Each day, treasure your joys, struggles, shortcomings, but most of all your heart. Then you can attract someone who will be able to treasure you too.
If you want a soul mate, my advice is to take a hard line: defer to your gut’s warnings about commitment phobic people. The gut protects your heart. You don’t have to follow all your chemical attractions. However, if you pursue a love interest despite your gut’s warnings, at least go slowly and pay attention. With time, the truth will make itself known.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Judith Orloff
Editor: Travis May