Phobia: An extreme fear of a particular thing or situation, especially 1 that cannot be reasonably explained!
Commitment: When you are willing to give your time & energy to something that you believe in, or a promise to do something!
Commitment Phobic Relationships
(extended version from 2014 Sojournal)
This planet was created with 5 elements, (earth, water, air, fire & love), and needs them all to function. It is impossible for one of these elements to be taken away, earth would simply not survive. Humans also have the “make-up” of all 5 elements, which keep us functioning! The 4 physical elements, earth (body), water (70% of our bodies/emotions), air (breathing/rationality/thinking) & fire (our spirit) are generally understood, but the most powerful & mystical element of love seems to be the most difficult to grasp.
When that first breath is taken all 5 elements are the “recipe” that make it all happen, it is the “ticket to live” & its physical qualities expire the day earth is left. Therefore, along with the other 4 elements, love is our God given right. No matter how commitment phobic, scared or un-accepting of love anybody is or claims to be, it will be the one thing we will always strive for (whether admitted or not), because it is the creative spark of life.
Most of us fear love, because of past hurts. I believe we create patterns for ourselves to keep us from hurting. Self sabotaging booby traps to ensure the distance that our fears need to feel safe but bound. These patterns are easily created because of our natural want for love verses our conflicting fears, which keep us running around in circles, causing more hurt, resulting in fear.
As I become more conscious of commitment phobia the more I realise how similar we actually all really are. We all have the same ultimate issue… fear! The only thing that differs between me and anybody else is the way that we all play it out! On a subconscious level some measure of distance is always maintained in relationships regardless of whether you find yourself in the passive or aggressive role. Please don’t misunderstand me… As a commitment phobic person I have fallen deeply in love before & I have dropped my guard completely but it was always in the relationships that in my heart (perhaps did not admit it to myself or anybody else) I knew could not work! I know it sounds crazy, and I know I can only talk for myself, which I am trying to do as honestly as possible. The relationships that I have had to put in constant effort & fight for are the ones in which I have loved the most & lost! The relationships that were no effort, nicely presented & full of commitment; I was either not interested in, or found something wrong with (regardless of whether or not I had a valid excuse not to purse the relationship), or if “there was something that was just not right”.
RECOGNISING YOUR PATTERN
I would like to start off with my own life & relationships. In the past I always thought of myself as always been the victim in relationships, but as I looked closer into my history I realised how much of a part I had to play in all of them. I always seemed to involve myself with emotionally detached people, complicated circumstances, unfaithfully partners, or partners with too many other choices. I was always the one trying to fix things, make things work or doing all the convincing. But no matter how much I tried the relationship would eventually end & my efforts would be in vain. When I look back I have to admit honestly that throughout these relationships as much as I wanted them to work I knew in my heart that they never would. All this left me wondering about my own commitment fears.
Commitment Phobia is played out in two different roles:
- Aggressive/Active role (can’t make a decision regarding commitment)
- Passive/Denying role (constantly trying to get commitment from partner)
In commitment phobic relationships these two roles are often swopped at sometime or another during the relationship! We are all different & commitment phobia can be triggered of at anytime during a relationship, depending on each individual. E.g.: Only once married / the birth of a child etc.(how many times have you heard of a couple being together for years & once they get married the relationship lasts only a few months?)
The aggressive role is easier to identify because the person is actively unavailable. Their biggest fear is making a wrong decision & not being able to change that decision, trapping them into something they don’t want. Often (not always), the active role is the more hurtful & harsh out of the two.
There are a few interesting traits that I have noticed (I’m sure there are more) that the active person demonstrates:-
- Their lack of decision making, cementing their fear of responsibility.
- They always create more than one choice on any matter, keeping them in constant dialogue with themselves, preventing them from moving forward (safe but bound).
- They can never give you a direct yes / no answer on anything. This is also because of their fear of giving a wrong answer that they cannot take back.
- If questions are asked they generally talk around a subject instead of directly.
- Often their communication can have double meanings, which gives them the choices they fear not having, opening a back door if a wrong decision is made.
- They do not like been cross questioned & put in a position they can’t get out off, they will do ANYTHING to get out of it, sometimes with drastic results.
- Their relationships are often taken to a serious level very quickly, but are generally short lived.
The passive role on the other hand is much more difficult to recognise. I think I personally perfected the art of convincing myself that I was somewhat victimised while I played out the passive role in relationships. Most passive roll players look at the soul value of another and hang onto the potential instead of the actual person in front of them. Continually trying to decipher their partner’s issues & phobias & trying to sort them out …..It even sounds like a good & noble thing to do, but quiet the opposite is true especially when it comes to the damage you do to yourself, mostly caused by a lack of self worth. Active role players can be very hurtful in a relationship, because they are often running or not sure of the importance of the affair, leaving the passive person very insecure. It is a bit more difficult to give the points of behaviour of a passive player because of the fact that I have to dissect myself, but I will give it my best shot!
There are a few interesting traits that I have noticed (I’m sure there are more) that the passive person demonstrates:
- Fallen in love with emotional unavailable people.
- Fallen in love with geographically unavailable people
- Constantly trying to improve the relationship
- Using their partners past/upbringing as an excuse for bad behaviour
Here are some important points that a typical passive role player should defiantly know:-
- The only person you have the full power to teach at anytime is yourself. You can talk yourself blue in the face, if somebody does not want to listen they won’t.
- Allowing active role players to disrespect you in any way & staying in the relationship, is basically agreeing to the disrespect bestowed on you. All humans have an invisible line (boundary), it is that point where we have had enough, and retaliate / leave the situation. Each person’s boundary differs, depending on the amount of self respect we each have. The important thing to remember is that until that point has been reached, whatever previous injustice/s done towards you on some level or another you have believed it to be true or deserving. If this was not the case, the boundary would have been crossed!
- It is incredibly important to learn to “stand your ground” & “walk your talk”. Especially when stating disapproval. How can a person be taken seriously when they have stated their disapproval towards any injustice (action) toward them (often over & over again) & yet they still remain in the situation, allowing it to happen
- When injustices are done, the 2nd time & every other time they are repeated ……it is your fault, regardless of “noble attempts”. We all have freedom of choice!
- People will only ever truly change for themselves, they might want to change to please you, but soon they will be back to their old selves. The more of themselves they cannot be, in order to please you or save the relationship, the more resentful in time they will become towards you.
- If you ever need to get a point across without an argument, talk in the 3rd person. E.g. instead of say “you should not”, you should say “we should not”
- NB: NEVER MAKE PRIORITIES OUT OF THINGS THAT YOU ARE ONLY AN OPTION TO! We are all guilty of this, even in our everyday life we give our power & energy to situations that we may or perhaps may not be able to acquire & the things that we actually have the power to manifest, we never seem to get around to (even in non relationship circumstances).
- Passive players are either, running after a love that could be, trying to save a love that did not work, pining over a lost love that could have been or creating a love illusion to pursue.
N.B.: It is interesting to take note that regardless of the role being played out
(passive/aggressive) it is in our human nature to love so we will find “safe” complications as an outlet of expression.
Both the passive & aggressive role players own the same insecurities, regardless of how much blame could be placed on the other. In life, we can surely only be affected by thing we know & recognise (within ourselves)? How could things we do not know & recognise affect us if we do not have that aspect within? I.e. if a friend has a really bad day because of something that involves you, and you are oblivious to this, how could it affect you? So surely the same works for feelings & problems? All the issues we have with others must come from an understanding of it…..this is how we mirror each other.
WHERE THE RELATIONSHIP STARTS GOING WRONG
Two people meet, start courting & a relationship begins. They are on cloud nine & totally compatible. The couple impresses each other & the honeymoon phase begins.
A little further down the road they start noticing that the other is beginning to change. They are on the couch watching t.v. most nights & they don’t seem to laugh as much. The small bad habits & personality traits that they overlooked in the honeymoon phase that didn’t really bother them at first; start to get annoying. There are also probably some new habits that start surfacing that become irritating.
In reality what is actually happening is that they are not changing they are actually become themselves again. They actually stop trying to change to impress their partners. Generally speaking, most people do not have a very high self esteem. We fear that our normal self is not good enough to impress when we begin relationships & so we try & become everything that we think our partners would like us to be, forgetting ourselves!
THE COMMITMENT PHOBIC TANGO
Regardless of the relationship, location or circumstance of all commitment phobic relationships, they all are generally played out in one particular way:
Bob (Active) meets Sally (Passive)
They feel instant chemistry for the first few months, they move in together (if that did not happen almost immediately); 1 month after Sally has moved in Bob starts wondering if he made the correct choice & he starts distancing himself & starts observing Sally, her behaviour, looks, tidiness, etc. to validate his decision. Sally feels that Bob is distancing himself & she becomes insecure. She loves him very much & knows he loved her but he had some issues & needed a bit of time. She starts trying to look better, becomes tidier & behaves as he wants her too….this does not help as Bob is petrified of making a wrong choice. Sally still tries for the relationship, with no response. Sally eventually exhausted has eventually after many months had enough & leaves the relationship!
They swop roles: Bob (Passive) Sally (Active)
Bob who has had a choice all this time has now had his choice taken away & he starts to panic, perhaps he made the wrong choice, he completely drops his guard, all his suppressed feelings surface & he will do anything to now get her back. Totally in love with Sally, Bob pursues her & promises total commitment to the relationship Sally who has had enough is now the one not sure of the relationship & gives him the cold shoulder. Bob is more persistent than ever & Sally eventually gives in.
There relationship is great for a few weeks (normally 2 weeks) until both partners start to relax, Bob has his choice back & begins to become unsure of the relationship & Sally starts to try & save it.
And so they cycle starts………………….
WHY WE STRUGGLE TO LEAVE THE RELATIONSHIP
I was in a commitment phobic relationship for 3 years & I had all the signs & all the reasons to leave after the first year.
The reasons I did not leave after the first year:
- The good times we had were brilliant & I was treated like a princess & it was those times that I clung onto for dear life for another 2 years (typical passive behaviour), trying to save it!
- I knew that he really did love me & that is what I held onto. I got it in my head that our love would get through all the problems eventually.
I honestly believe that most long-term commitment phobic relationships do share deep love, but the expression of that love is crippled by fear! The one is always giving and the other is always withholding. If the one leaves, the other’s guard automatically drops & the true unexpressed feelings surface.
My invisible boundary was crossed when I had had enough of:-
- Defending myself for absolutely no reason
- I realised that the same issue we had from our first argument after three years had not changed, so it probably never would.
- To much disrespect was shown from both of us towards each other & I could not come back from it
THE MAIN CAUSE OF COMMITMENT PHOBIA
Please do Exercise (A) before reading further:-
Here is a little exercise I would like you to within 5min. Please do not ponder on each point, but write down the first things that pop into your head. Write down 5 qualities that your ideal partner should have (if you are in a relationship, please do not write down your partners 5 best qualities, unless the qualities match your ideals):-
We often look for qualities & things outside of ourselves to make us feel whole, especially in relationships. We either look for partnerships to complete us, or, if in a relationship, that without the other we would be lost. Take a look at the 5 answers you wrote down in Exercise (A), take your time & honestly evaluate how many of these qualities you actively have in your day to day life currently? I.e. Perhaps you want an affectionate / passionate partner, how affectionate / passionate are you presently in your life (not necessarily of a sexual nature), or you want a kind partner, how kind are you towards yourself presently? Or you want somebody that is not judgemental & critical, how non-judgemental & non-critical are you currently towards yourself?
Are the most important qualities we seek, the qualities that we seem to lack? If so, then the partnerships we make are actually formed (subconsciously) to complete ourselves. So who are we actually seeking….another or more of ourselves? What happened to love?
One of the most important things that we forget about ourselves is that we are already complete. When God made us he did not leave out any qualities that we would have to acquire or become. We do not have to become anything more than what we already are (God did not do half a job when creating us). We are what we seek! It is not a matter of having to change & becoming somebody else, it is a matter of becoming more of who we already truly are! When we grow & our perspective change, we are merely discovering more of our true essence.
A love that is complete & not limited in anyway!
I believe that from a very young age we are all unfortunately introduced to conditional love. From a child’s perspective it is often believed that if they are good they are love & accepted & if bad they are not, resulting in the child constantly trying to please in order to get love & affection. This perspective that so many of us grew up with causes a certain belief system:- if we want to be loved we have to behave in a certain way!
We seem to seek people to complete our own personal needs. We seek co-dependent relationships in order to make us feel better about ourselves.
Once we have no need for another person, is when we are actually ready to pursue a truly loving relationship. It is literally getting to a point in life where you have no need to seek things outside of yourself. These relationships form unconditionally because you love another person, not because of something that needs to be fulfilled, but because you want to. I’m sure that we will always be learning & will never really completely know ourselves, but the more complete each individual is within themselves the higher the love they will have within there relationships.
Please do not misunderstand unconditional love….love your neighbour as you love yourself! So it is not to love somebody unconditionally when they mistreat & have no respect for you. Because then you are disrespecting yourself & the love you have for yourself.
Imagine us as circles…..a half circle (incomplete person) can join to another half circle to make 1 circle, but there is not enough life energy to sustain both of these halves & so there will always be a power struggle for the dominance of the energy between the two halves. But if you get two complete circles that join, they will join together at a point but they will still remain complete within themselves.
THE RELATIONSHIP PURPOSE
We are given the gift of relationships with one another not in order to become co-dependant or reliant on another’s for love & affection. They are actually formed so that we can learn more about ourselves. If there was no interaction between us, how would we each know what we are all about? We would never know what our likes & dislikes are & what our boundaries are? Growth would be impossible!
As I explained earlier, we are made of 5 elements. We are physically aware & express 4 of them in our daily lives (we can’t breathe without air). The 5th element of love also needs an expression & relationships allow this to happen. Love is the gift of giving that needs to be expressed.
BREAKING THE PATTERN
One of the saddest truths about human society is the way we have been conditioned to notice all the differences between us, whereas we should be noticing our similarities & oneness. When we notice our differences it not only causes judgement between us, but it also causes separation & isolation. The more we can realise how similar we all actually are, the closer our relationships will become.
Freedom of Choice:-
A lot of commitment phobic people are afraid of making a wrong decision & then not being able to change it. Honestly, not making a decision is far more damaging than at a later stage being honest about a change of mind & heart. The beauty about truth is that it always moves people & any situation forward, regardless of the immediate outcome. In relationships it will either help you leave a situation or help you mend it!! Yes there may perhaps be heartache, but the important thing to remember is:- in truth there is no stalemate, it always results in the movement towards growth.
Living in the Present:-
Living in the present is one of the most powerful tools humankind has. There is surely nothing more spectacular than the now! It is life in manifestation!! Unfortunately fear clouds us from living in the present causing us to either wallow too much in the past or it projects us to look and focus on the future outcome. But either way it prevents us from truly living life (right here & right now). We are here on earth to learn and grow, and a simple way of looking at love & fear is simply:- love = energy movement (growth) verses fear = stagnant energy (no growth/energy movement). ANYTHING preventing us from moving forward & withholding growth is basically fear (sometimes disguised) regardless of whether the thoughts/projections are positive or negative!
Consciously not allowing the past to affect you presently & consciously not thinking about or trying to control the possible outcome will definitely help you succeed. Both living in the past & the future prevents us from moving forward in the now!
Standing your Ground:-
It is also important to realise that the only person you can take full responsibility for is yourself. We have no right to judge another person regardless of their beliefs & behaviour patterns. We have no right to decide what is right for another, especially if we are just demonstrating our beliefs & behaviour patterns, just as they are theirs.
We can however decide what we will & will not allow in our own lives. We can decide on our own principles & beliefs & we can demonstrate them in our own lives. I believe it is very healthy to set respectful boundaries for ourselves, and to stick to them always. Personal space is personal & the rules & regulations made for that space is specific for each individual. Expressing your boundaries to others (especially in intimate relationships) is incredibly important, & equally important is not allowing those boundaries to be crossed.
Intimate relationships have a basic set of rules which should always be respected. I personally have 3 boundaries that I will not allow people to cross in my life, regardless of the type of relationship (friendship / intimate). They are straight forward, simple & respectful:-
- Don’t call me something that I am not.
- Don’t mistake kindness for weakness. (I have no problem what-so-ever with giving my energy or material objects, but allow me to give, don’t take, especially when it comes to my energy)
- Don’t intentionally & vindictively plan to hurt me.
I am sure each individual’s personal boundaries have come from certain situations & circumstances that have affected them. The key for healthy boundaries is not to impose your boundaries/beliefs onto others or expect them to live by them, but to implement and respect them for yourself The beauty of expressing this in your life not only shows yourself respect, but it causes a domino affect and automatically shows others how to treat you. I personally have no problem walking away from any situation where one of my boundaries have been crossed, especially if the other party concerned knows what those boundaries are. It is disrespectful & if I had to stay in a situation once that had happened, I not only disrespect myself, I also can not expect anybody to take me seriously!
Setting personal boundaries also prevents us from pointing fingers & deciding for others what is right & wrong. It is deciding for yourself what is right & wrong in your own life & living it.
Even in conflicting situations, if you talk about yourself & what you will & will not allow in your life, it truly gets the message across much louder than a pointing finger or a raised voice ever could. It also does not put the other person in a corner/defensive mode. In conflict if your attitude is intended for both parties to leave with more than the came with, you can not go wrong, movement and growth should be your intention (for all involved), regardless of how drastic the conflict is.