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Fear of commitment: signs, triggers & treatment

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 274 views

Fear of attachment is when people are afraid of getting involved in a deeper relationship. Read here why some people are afraid of relationships, whether fear of commitment causes different symptoms in men than in women and what you can do as a partner of a relationship avoidant.

How can you recognize the fear of commitment?

The symptoms of attachment phobia are varied. In some cases, the sufferer avoids long-term relationships, stays alone, or only has superficial affairs. In other cases, the love phobic enters into a relationship but changes over time because of their fear of commitment.

Signs are typically:

  • Withdrawal (rushes into work, hobbies, etc.)
  • Denial of physical closeness (no kissing, no sexual intercourse)
  • lack of responsibility (walking away without telling)
  • groundless allegations (starting a fight)
  • Refusal to set common goals (holidays, building a house, etc.)
  • break up surprisingly

Such behavior is often justified by the fact that one is “not yet ready for a new relationship”. Basically, however, such mechanisms only serve the purpose of not feeling dependent on another person and thus becoming vulnerable.

In addition, fear of commitment also manifests itself physically in some of those affected: through heart palpitations, sweating, feelings of anxiety, tension or panic attacks.

What is attachment anxiety?

It’s normal that things don’t always go smoothly in relationships. There is probably hardly anyone who hasn’t asked themselves whether their partner is a good match or whether they will ever find “the right one”. However, if you feel the need to keep the other person at a distance even before the relationship has even really started, this relationship anxiety can become a problem. For both parties involved.

Studies can hardly prove how many people are affected by such a fear of attachment, partly because those affected are often unaware of their fear of attachment or do not want to admit it. You only feel a diffuse anxiety and/or feel constrained by your partner.

Science assumes that people who are afraid of a relationship are unable to trust another person. An attachment phobia often arises in childhood, because the first bond is with the parents, especially with the mother. If this first caregiver is cold or absent, there is a feeling of not being enough, of being a disappointment. This can later in life lead to a fear of closeness: the fear of commitment.

Reasons for fear of commitment

Fear of closeness arises in an early phase of life. Therefore, fear of commitment is very complex. Once you learn that love isn’t something you get, you have to earn it, you’ll always fear failure and try to avoid that situation.

Experts estimate that 20 percent of people are such “anxious attachment types.” Another 20 percent belong to the “avoidant types” who fear having to give up their independence in a relationship.

In both cases, it can happen that those affected avoid close relationships completely in order not to be hurt and have to cope with the loss of affection again.

The proximity-distance dilemma

Humans naturally have a need for closeness. If it is not fulfilled, the psyche suppresses the pain about it for self-protection. This can go so far that the need for closeness is completely disconnected in order to retain the feeling of control.

The problem with this is that people with a fear of commitment want closeness, and some even get married. However, they do not manage to open up to the other person. They can enjoy beautiful moments, but at the same time they suffer because they don’t want to let the other person mean anything to them.

Therefore, they keep the (potential) partner at a distance so as not to feel dependent or have to meet expectations that they believe attachment phobics can only disappoint and then be abandoned

Fear of commitment in men

In men, relationship anxiety is often triggered by the fear of being restricted or abandoned in a partnership. They just want to take responsibility for themselves, not disappear into the “we as partners” and “not miss anything”. Or they’d rather be moderately happy at a non-binding partnership level than risk getting really hurt (again).

Accordingly, they switch to open relationship models and affairs. Many men who are afraid of commitment are not aware of it, but believe that they simply haven’t found their dream woman yet.

Fear of commitment in women

Fear of commitment is not a male domain. Experts assume that women’s desire for a perfect relationship is growing as a result of increasing self-determination. The expectations of closeness, intimacy and dealing with each other are increasing and so is the suffering when these expectations are not met.

While many women who avoid close relationships claim they want to be in a relationship, they subconsciously do whatever it takes to avoid a serious commitment. Be it by being extremely choosy when choosing a partner, insisting on separate apartments for the long term, suddenly ending the relationship and then coming back again, or looking for a partner that is fundamentally unavailable (married/married, in another country, extremely busy with a job, etc.). with whom a classic relationship is not possible.

What to do if you are afraid of commitment?

Overcoming the fear of commitment is possible. However, the person concerned must first become aware of them and want to take responsibility for their behavior.

The next step is to look for the reasons for the fear of commitment. Therapy is a good way to do that and also to check right away whether these fears really pose a threat. Maybe it’s not a disappointment for your partner if you don’t do everything together or if you don’t do the washing up for a day longer.

It is also possible to overcome the fear of commitment without undergoing therapy and without seeking professional help, but it is much more difficult. Basically, however, it is always about building self-confidence and strengthening the self-esteem of the person concerned.

If you have a partner, it can be helpful to involve them in this process.

Fear of commitment – ​​your partner can do that

Correct behavior in the case of fear of commitment can look very different. The aim is to take away the fears of the (potential) partner, for example by letting them experience that the relationship will not go as they feared.

Dealing with your partner’s fear of commitment is exhausting, the chances of success are pretty uncertain and far too often the other person wears himself out trying to “save” the loved one. Because the fear of commitment cannot be argued away. Rather, positive experiences are necessary again and again, which help the relationship phobic to overcome his fears and to gain trust. For years.

Without expert support, you quickly end up in a vicious circle: the “rescuing partner” tries to get at the “avoiding partner”, he withdraws, the other moves up, the phobic separates out of fear of commitment, the partner wants to win him back and ends up like this at some point in a dependency, which in the worst case can end in depression.


If a love phobic has recognized that he has a problem and wants to work on it, the chance of healing and a normal relationship is good. However, if they don’t admit that they are afraid of intimacy, the partner has only two options: break up, or understand that the relationship only works if they let go and accept that a partner with attachment anxiety always “love differently.” will.

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