Commitment Phobia

We’ve heard the phrase bandied around for years, but is it really as simple as someone being afraid of, or threatened by, making a commitment to his or her dating partner? Usually the ‘Commitment Phobia’ accusation is levelled towards the man in the relationship, with the related belief that it comes down to something genetically programmed on the Y chromosome!

At the core of a person’s willingness to commit to a relationship, is their willingness to accept limitations and restrictions on their options. And herein lies the problem. Maintaining our options is highly valued by our culture. We see it as a wise position; why close the doors on anything unless you have to? Keep your options open, because you can’t predict whether you will need that option in the future. It’s like insurance — have a backup plan, in case this one doesn’t work out.

Wanting It All

However, for many people, the options game is not just about insurance; it revolves around the fantasy that we can ‘have it all’ — the career; the family; the soulmate spouse; the overseas experience; the home to die for; the rugged-but-sensitive and emotionally vulnerable man; the pure-and-untouched-but sexually uninhibited virgin woman. We’ve been told by our consumer society that we deserve it all.

The problem is, in relationships, it doesn’t work like this. It’s not possible to enjoy the benefits of an intimate, soulful and joyous relationship if we’re still playing the field (even if it is only in our imagination) or have a backup plan. Intimacy flourishes in a bed of confident fidelity and exclusivity; it’s only safe to be emotionally vulnerable if the couple’s commitment to each other is rock solid.

The life-long love affair of which we all dream comes about through the dedicated effort of both spouses. You’re just not going to make that kind of effort if in the back of your mind, you’re holding onto the thought that maybe there’s a better option out there for you.


Originally published at SmartLoving. Photo by Fadime Erbass.

Published On: January 25th, 20230 CommentsTags: , , , , , ,

About the Author: Byron and Francine Pirola

Married for 25 years, with 5 children, Byron & Francine Pirola are the founders and co-authors of the SmartLoving Series – marriage enrichment and marriage preparation courses designed to help build successful and resilient marriages. International speakers and authors of numerous articles on marriage, more than 3000 couples have attended their programs, workshops and conferences in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain Byron & Francine are Executive Directors of the Marriage Resource Centre from which they run SmartLoving programs and produce digital resources. Francine graduated from Fordham University with a Masters in Religion and Religious Education. Byron is a founding partner of the strategic consulting firm, Port Jackson Partners Limited, and a Director of both listed and unlisted companies. He holds a PhD from the Commonwealth Centre for Gene Technology, Adelaide University.

Leave A Comment