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Avoiding Commitmentphobes

by Giselle Aguiar

Commitmentphobia has reached epidemic proportions.

Never before have so many people fallen in love only to find themselves heartbroken after an intensive romance with a person who simply could not make a commitment.

Identifying Commitmentphobes

Pay attention to any hints of commitmentphobia. You need to distinguish between the mixed messages this person is sending you. A person’s relationship history reveals a lot.

Don’t ignore the first three times your partner forgets to call or changes arrangements you’ve made. Is this a mixed message?

Don’t ignore the first time you notice you are feeling hurt about something. Is it an isolated incident? Commitmentphobes are usually unwilling to change their routines in even the smallest way to accommodate a new relationship in their lives. Are you doing all the adjusting and compromising?

I once ignored a very obvious sign. The guy I was dating said in more than one occasion that he liked that I put in my online profile that I was looking for “casual dating” or “just friends”. I did have that in my profile for I was living at the time in Florida and was planning to move to Arizona. I was looking for a casual date in Florida and to make friends in Arizona. But, I really liked this guy. We had a lot in common and the physical chemistry was there. Another hint I ignored, he’d been divorced twice before.

Act quickly once you make the diagnosis. Pay attention to your intuition if you feel this person will cause you pain, especially if he or she is already hurting you. Whenever the pain of a relationship exceeds the pleasure, it’s time to move on.

Another time, again, I really liked the guy. He was a Christian, intelligent and the physical attraction was there. BUT, he was too recently divorced and all he wanted was to play the field. He liked me, but was afraid of making a mistake again. It took me a few months to really get it. I kept thinking, maybe if I give it time?

Don’t try to change commitmentphobes through discussion. Commitmentphobes may spend a lot of time rationalizing their behavior.

I went to a singles conference once and one speaker coined the phrase “Missionary Dating”. That’s when a believer dates nonbelievers they are attracted to hoping to convert (evangelize) them and thus be the perfect mate. Only GOD can do that. The person has to be open to inviting God into his/her heart. God can change a person, but it’s in His timeline, not yours. You can plant a seed, but if you see that the seed isn’t taking root, then it’s time to move on and pray that God will soften the person’s heart.

Don’t let a commitmentphobes convince you that you are the one with the problem. If you are in love with someone who is afraid of commitment, he or she might try to convince you that you are neurotic, too needy and you demand too much. Don’t fall for it.

A very good book on this is Boundaries in Dating by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

Don’t worry about why commitmentphobes are the way they are. Who knows? It may be a result of socialization, family history, social upheavals of recent years, the death of good role models. Whatever the reason, it’s not up to you to figure them out. Again, the best you can do is plant the seed, step back, and see if it takes.

Don’t "Enable" Commitmentphobes. The concept of "enabling" comes from alcoholics counseling. Whenever there is an alcoholic, there is also a co-alcoholic who unwittingly enables the alcoholic to continue drinking. If we could somehow stop dating commitmentphobes, maybe they would begin to feel the negative consequences of their unwillingness to become close.

I was an enabler with the first guy. I felt so comfortable with him that I kept coming back to him. In over a 4-year period, we were on and off at least four times. The last time I felt that he’d come into my life so I could guide him to Christ, but he was even more self-absorbed and I realized one of his main faults was something I could not live with. Again, it’s not up to you to fix the person. I still pray for both those guys and wonder how they are and if they’ve found what they were looking for.

What if You’re the Commitmentphobe?

Here are eight steps to help you get the courage to commit. You need:

  1. The Courage to Stop Blaming – It’s his fault, it’s her fault. It’s because he’s/she’s…
  2. The Courage to Say Goodbye to Your Ghosts – The past is past. It happened, you learned from it. Let it go. Take a deep breath and move on.
  3. The Courage to Find and Fight for the Self – Before you can commit to someone you must be committed to yourself.
  4. The Courage to Stay Grounded in Reality – Fantasy is one thing, reality is something else. Make sure you know the difference.
  5. The Courage to Allow Yourself to Be Known – This is a part of intimacy — opening yourself up. You open your heart and you risk breaking it.
  6. The Courage to Learn the Lessons of Acceptance – Even though you are not absolutely perfectly matched, you must accept each other as you are and not try to change your partner. There are things that you can live with.
  7. The Courage to Define a New Path – Face it, there are two lives becoming one. You will have new goals and a new direction. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up your goals. You may just have to mold them to fit your new situation. Nothing is set in stone.
  8. The Courage to Handle Your Anxieties – Relationships and anxiety go hand in hand. You can be anxious because you fear rejection, because you feel crowded, because you fear for yourself, because you worry about those you love. It’s a sign of caring.

Getting to know and trust yourself is the foundation for finding a lifetime mate. Be prepared to work hard on communication and openness. Think deeply and speak openly about what commitment means to you. And most importantly, turn to God for guidance.

Before you can commit to another person, you have to commit your life to Jesus Christ. It’s easy. All you have to do is pray this prayer wholeheartedly:

"Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen."

If you received Jesus into your heart, welcome to the family of God! The following will help you deepen your relationship with Christ:

  1. Pray. Just talk to God no matter where you are. He doesn’t care what the words are, just that they are sincere.
  2. Read the Bible everyday to learn about Jesus and how to live that pleases God. Start with 1 John, then the Gospel of John, the Philippians.
  3. An important part of helping your relationship with Christ grow is to tell others about Him. Demonstrate God’s love and be active in telling others about Jesus.
  4. Find a bible-based church and become active getting to know other Christians. Find one with a singles ministry or groups for people your age.

Many have groups for different interests. Shop around, but commit yourself to finding one and joining a church family.
(Read the Benefits of a Church Family).

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