What to Do if Your Partner Is Afraid of Commitment

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Getty Images/Adene Sanchez

Commitment doesn’t come naturally to everyone. You may find yourself looking to have a serious relationship with your partner, but they are too afraid to meet you halfway. In fact, there are many different reasons why your partner may fear commitment. Once you understand these motivations, you will be able to have a discussion with them and conclude whether having a committed relationship with this person is a possibility.

Why Is My Partner Afraid of Commitment?

If your partner is apprehensive about devoting themself to you, there are many causes and explanations for this type of behavior.

  1. Your partner may have been hurt in the past: One common reason behind your partner’s fear of commitment is that they may have had a painful past relationship. In other words, by keeping your relationship with each other casual, they won’t be vulnerable to heartache yet again. 
  2. Your partner is just getting out of a serious relationship: Another motive behind your partner’s fear of commitment may also be tied to his or her ex. Your partner may not be fully ready to jump back into a serious commitment and may be apprehensive about making such a significant decision regarding a new relationship. 
  3. Your partner is afraid to let you down: Your partner’s fear of commitment may stem from their fear of disappointing you. In other words, your partner may be so afraid of failing at commitment and/or not living up to your expectations that they don't make the leap to fully devote themselves to you. 
  4. Your partner isn’t sure about his or her feelings toward you: An additional explanation for your partner’s fear may be that they aren't totally sure about their feelings for you. Specifically, this apprehension may come from not being confident that you’re the right person. We all fall in love at different paces, so this may be an indication that you need more time together before commitment. 
  5. Your partner wants to play the field: It is also a possibility that your partner doesn’t want to be tied down, and a commitment to you would prevent him or her from being able to have relationships or sexual experiences with other people.

What to Do if Your Partner Is Afraid of Commitment

If you’re interested in taking your connection with your partner to a new level but he or she is simply afraid to commit to you, there are different steps that you can take right now to help you deal with these issues.

  1. Have a discussion about why they fear commitment: To fully understand why your partner is apprehensive about fully committing to you, have an honest conversation about it. After all, being completely open and forthright with each other is a cornerstone of a serious and long-lasting relationship, and if you’re seeking to have this kind of deep connection, it’s imperative that you both discuss the basis for their fear.
  2. Look out for red flags: Once you have a conversation about their fears of commitment, you will be able to better recognize if your partner actually wants the relationship to work out or if they are using a fear of commitment as an excuse. For instance, if your partner is giving you no indication that he or she wants to commit to you and beat this reluctance, then you should take them at their word—or lack thereof. On the other hand, if your partner is seeking your support and/or the support of friends, family, or a therapist to deal with these apprehensions, this is an excellent indicator that they are serious about working towards having a serious relationship with you.
  3. Decide what’s right for you: It’s also imperative that you consider what your own feelings, wants, and needs are when dealing with a partner who’s afraid of commitment. If he or she is interested in having an open relationship with you but you’re not comfortable with this arrangement, you should be honest about it. If they really want to be in a relationship with you, they may compromise their view for you; if not, this may be a good point to end your relationship without having more hurt feelings.

If your partner’s fear means that they're not going to work toward having the committed relationship that you’re looking for, then you should commit to moving on. 

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