Problems with commitment

16 Signs of Commitment Issues & How to Deal with Them

It’s not uncommon for people who avoid long-term relationships to hear they have commitment issues or a fear of commitment.

Many people use these phrases casually. But in reality, commitment (and the fear of it) is often quite complex.

Commitment is a broad term, but it generally comes down to dedicating yourself to something for a long time, whether that’s a job, a goal, a city, or a relationship.

The concept of commitment issues, however, tends to come up most often in the context of romantic relationships. Someone with commitment issues will often demonstrate fear or unwillingness to commit to a long-term relationship.

This typically refers to an inability to talk about the future or lack of desire to take the next steps when a relationship begins to progress throughout time. Commitment issues may make it challenging to make the relationship go forward or last.

Think you or your partner might have a fear of commitment? Here are some things to watch for:

The internet is full of compatibility quizzes, lists of relationship red flags, and so on. These can be fun — and they might even help you notice some things about yourself or your relationship.

But remember that your unique situation is just that: unique.

Lists can’t identify or take into account everything going on in your relationship, so take them (including this one) with a grain of salt.

If you do recognize some of the following in yourself or your partner, it doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed.

Finally, keep in mind that commitment isn’t the same as love. It’s entirely possible to love your romantic partner and still have trouble with commitment.

It’s not always easy to recognize when a pattern of short-lived relationships represents bad dating luck or when it indicates something more significant.

Here are some signs that may offer some clarity:

You don’t want to date seriously

Wanting to date casually and avoid serious relationships doesn’t automatically mean you’re afraid of commitment. You might have one reason for this, or you might have several.

But if you consistently feel the need to end things when relationships start moving past the casual stage, even though you like the person you’re seeing, you may have some unresolved commitment fears.

You don’t think about the future of the relationship

At some point in a relationship, most people spend at least a little time thinking about whether the person they’re dating would make a good long-term match.

If they can’t see a future, they might end the relationship and move on. But some people don’t give the future any thought at all — and they don’t want to.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy what you have now with a partner. But a true inability or unwillingness to think about the next stage of a relationship could suggest a fear of commitment, especially if this is a pattern in your relationships.

You spend a lot of time questioning the relationship

Maybe you do think about the future of your relationship. You have strong feelings for your partner, feel connected and attached, and enjoy spending time together. Even so, you can’t stop asking yourself things like:

  • “Do they really love me?”
  • “What happens next?”
  • “Am I ready for this?”
  • “Do I want this to work?”

It’s pretty normal to ask yourself questions like these from time to time, especially if you really care about someone and don’t want to lose them.

Questioning the relationship constantly, however, to the point where it interferes with the relationship or causes you emotional distress, could suggest commitment fears.

You don’t want to make plans

Do you avoid making plans for a Friday night date until Friday morning?

Do you give vague replies like, “Maybe! I’ll let you know” or “Let me see how the week goes” when the person you’re dating tries to make plans?

Does thinking about plans you’ve already made stress you out so much that you end up wanting to cancel them?

Not wanting to make plans sometimes suggests that you aren’t really interested in the person you’re dating, especially if you’re holding out for the possibility of better plans.

But when you do like that person and enjoy their company but still feel anxious, the issue may be commitment.

You don’t feel emotionally attached

Research from 2010 looking at commitment in romantic relationships suggested that commitment is an effort to secure romantic attachment.

Furthermore, feelings of commitment can develop as a response to feelings of worry or fear over losing a partner.

If you feel securely attached and want the relationship to continue, you’re more likely to do the work required to make it last.

This effort shows your commitment and can help relieve feelings of anxiety about the relationship’s future, especially if your partner shows a similar interest in long-term involvement.

But if you don’t feel any emotional attachment to your partner, you may not care or even think much about losing them. Sure, you have a great time together, but you shrug off the thought of never seeing them again. You’re perfectly content to keep doing your own thing.

Sometimes, not connecting emotionally just means the person you’re dating isn’t the best match for you. However, if you know you want a relationship and never feel emotionally invested in your partners, consider whether commitment fears could be holding you back.

You feel uneasy or trapped when your partner shows signs of investment

These feelings may come up without you fully understanding them.

For example, when your partner says “I love you” for the first time, you might feel happy. But later, when you think about it, you begin to feel anxious and wonder what that means or what comes next.

You might also feel an urge to get away, whether you truly want to end the relationship or not.

When you’re ready for a serious relationship but your partner seems content with things staying the same, you might begin to wonder if they want the same things you do.

The following signs could suggest you’re dating someone who has some commitment fears. But it’s hard to know if these are really signs of commitment issues unless you talk to them about the reasons behind their behavior.

If you’re concerned about your partner’s commitment, an open, honest conversation is a good first step.

In the meantime, here are some signs of commitment fears in a partner:

They don’t seem invested in the relationship or you

This can show up in a lot of ways. They might know all of your friends but never introduce you to any of theirs. Maybe they tell great stories but seem less interested in talking about their emotions or daily life (or yours).

You might also notice a lack of interest in making any plans that aren’t in the immediate future.

This disinterest isn’t always obvious. For example, they might sound enthusiastic if you suggest a trip or vacation but have an excuse or schedule conflict when you try to narrow down a specific date.

It’s possible that your partner does want to spend that time with you. They might just struggle with the commitment involved.

They don’t want to talk about the future of the relationship

If you’ve been seeing someone you like for several months, you might start thinking about the possibility of a relationship developing. After all, you’re compatible, you enjoy each other’s company — so why not date more seriously?

A partner who has commitment fears may have a hard time with this conversation. They might change the subject or give vague replies when you ask how they feel.

They might say something like, “Let’s just have fun without trying to define things.” They might flat-out say they aren’t looking for a commitment.

If you’re looking for commitment, these responses often indicate that the person you’re seeing may not be able to offer what you want and need.

They have a hard time opening up or sharing deep thoughts

Emotional vulnerability typically helps people become closer.

In strong relationships, partners usually learn about each other in fairly equal amounts as time passes. You might talk about your pasts, childhood experiences, goals for the future, life philosophy, and emotions, including feelings for each other or feelings toward other people or situations.

Someone who has a hard time with commitment may not readily open up, even after months go by. Your conversations may remain casual and lighthearted, never becoming more intimate or touching on any deeper feelings or experiences.

Difficulty becoming vulnerable might mean your partner just needs time. But it could also relate to commitment fears.

They talk about the future, but their plans don’t involve you

Some people who avoid commitment in romantic relationships have a hard time making commitments in other areas of life. They might dislike the idea of feeling trapped or tied down to any one future or outcome. But this isn’t always the case.

It’s easy to feel hurt if someone you’re dating talks about a future that doesn’t seem to include you, especially if things seem to be getting more serious from your perspective.

Maybe they continue to plan trips and vacations for themselves or their friends without inviting you. Or maybe they talk excitedly and in great detail about the dream studio apartment they can’t wait to put down a deposit on.

It’s possible that they just don’t want to assume you’ll continue dating. Maybe they just haven’t given a long-term relationship much thought.

But these signs could also indicate this partner isn’t ready to commit.

They don’t reply to your messages, calls, or texts for days

If you’ve been dating someone for a while, you might start to notice a pattern in their responses. They might go silent after 8 p.m. when unwinding before bed or not reply to you at all during their working hours.

In general, it’s pretty reasonable to expect a partner to reply within a day most of the time, unless you know they won’t be available for some reason.

If you consistently don’t get replies, especially when you’re trying to make plans, or if you get half-replies that don’t fully answer your question, you might want to bring this up in person.

It’s possible your partner just doesn’t love texting. But this can also suggest emotional unavailability.

Regardless of the reason, they may not be able commit to anything more.

There are a number of factors that can cause commitment issues. These causes often include fears about the relationship, such as fear of being hurt, fear of being with the wrong person, fear of things not working out, and other relationship-related anxieties.

If someone experienced trauma in a past relationship or went through a difficult breakup, this can lead to commitment issues in the future.

Other factors can stem from the childhood experiences in upbringing and family history. These influences can shape ones attachment style. Those who are typically avoidant attached, for example, may exhibit commitment issues.

All of these different experiences and traits can influence how someone behaves in a committed relationship. This can make it difficult to tell the difference between someone who just really doesn’t want to commit and someone who’s dealing with other issues.

Issues with commitment in a relationship aren’t always a problem.

Long-term, monogamous relationships aren’t for everyone. Plenty of people live their lives, happy to stay single or date different partners, without ever getting married or settling down.

Other people are fully ready to commit to long-term involvement, just not with one person only.

Still, if you want to deepen your commitment or feel like there’s an element of fear that’s holding you back, consider these approaches:

Individual therapy

Therapy is a great place to start examining possible reasons why commitment might pose a challenge for you.

These reasons could be grounded in past relationships, childhood experiences, or your personal attachment style.

It can help to talk to a therapist if any of the above signs resonate with you. They can help you address commitment fears in an empathetic, judgment-free way.

If your fear of commitment causes anxiety or other emotional distress, therapy can help there, too.

A therapist can also offer support in one-on-one therapy if your partner’s behavior is affecting your mental health, but couples therapy could be another place to work on this.

Couples therapy

If you truly love your partner and want to make the relationship work, but something is holding you back and preventing you from taking steps toward commitment, couples therapy can help.

Intimacy and commitment aren’t the same, but they often relate to each other. People who have trouble with one might also have a hard time with the other.

A skilled couples therapist can help you and your partner navigate these challenges and begin working through them to develop a stronger partnership.

Couples therapy works well when you and your partner share similar goals for the relationship. But even if one of you wants something else, or one or both of you aren’t sure exactly what you want, couples therapy can help you explore this, too.

Talk about it

Sometimes, just putting a name to your fear can help you feel better about it. If you care about your partner but know that you have issues with commitment, try talking with them.

Let them know how you feel about them and the relationship and try to tell them exactly what it is you’re afraid of, if possible.

You might say something like, “I went through a bad breakup a few years ago, and it took me a long time to recover. I’m afraid of going through that again. I care about you, and I like where this is going, but I need more time to get used to the idea of being in a relationship.”

Practice commitment

If you and your partner both want your relationship to succeed but one or both of you have commitment fears, it can help to develop committed habits together.

Make it a habit

Try these baby steps toward commitment:

  • Spend the night together.
  • Spend a weekend together a few miles out of town.
  • Hold hands in public or around people you know.
  • Talk about things you’d like to do together in a different season and see how that feels. For example, maybe you both want to think about making some camping plans next summer.
  • Make plans together a week, 2 weeks, then a month in advance. Challenge yourself to keep those plans.
  • Look at apartments or houses together, if that’s where your relationship is headed. This can be as simple as taking a walk in a neighborhood you like and thinking about what it would be like to share that space with your partner.

If feelings of fear or anxiety come up for you as you do these, talk about them with your partner.

Look for a partner who respects your needs

If you know you need time to feel secure in a relationship, it can help to date someone who doesn’t need to spend every free evening together and who won’t press you to commit right away.

This can depend on what exactly you need from a partner, of course. But someone who leads a busy lifestyle might be a good fit if you know you need a lot of space and alone time.

If you don’t enjoy being touched constantly, a partner who’s more hands-off may be a better fit than someone who needs a lot of physical affection.

Fear of commitment is a tricky topic. A range of factors can contribute to it, and those factors can vary from person to person.

While commitment issues might make dating more difficult, they don’t make intimate, long-term relationships impossible. Things just might take a bit of extra work and honest communication.

Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.

9 Signs Of Commitment Issues & How To Deal With Them

What does it mean to have "commitment issues"?

Commitment issues—also known as commitment phobia, relationship anxiety, or fear of commitment—are when a person finds it difficult to dedicate themselves to a long-term goal in a relationship or to the relationship itself. This can apply to those already in an intimate relationship or those who may be single and getting to know someone in the dating phase.

For those in relationships, commitment issues might look like a partner rejecting an opportunity to pursue a higher level of investment in the relationship like getting married or moving in together. For people just getting to know someone in the early dating phase, commitment issues might look like having a great time together but noticing the person is reluctant to move to the next level to date seriously.

Commitment is a state or quality of being dedicated to a person, cause, or activity. In the context of the typical monogamous relationship, commitment usually means you are willing to go through the phases of a relationship together. There is a sense of progression. But a person with commitment issues struggles with this sense of dedication and taking the next steps.


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Signs that someone has commitment issues.

While commitment issues can be complex, here are a few signs to help you recognize them within yourself or others:

  1. Avoiding making future plans with your partner
  2. Avoiding talking or thinking about the future of the relationship
  3. Serious or long-term relationships are always out of the question
  4. Lack of emotional attachment
  5. Delayed response to calls and texts
  6. Flaky or inconsistent behavior
  7. Nitpicky about small things
  8. Poor communication
  9. A history of short-lived relationships

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Importantly, there are many people who just do not want the relationship structure that society pushes onto us, such as being in a long-term relationship, monogamy, marriage, and kids. It is not because they have commitment issues, but it is simply because they choose to live their life on their own terms. (Here are some reasons some people don't want to get married that have nothing to do with commitment issues. )

What causes someone to have commitment issues?

No two people with commitment issues will look the same because they all originate from a different place. Some people with commitment issues have experienced poor romantic relationships firsthand or have observed others in bad relationships.

Here are some possible causes of commitment issues:


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Fear of the relationship ending without notice or signs.

If a person has experienced this in the past, they may be more cautious moving forward in relationships because they may be fearful it'll happen again, with some leaving them without notice.

Fear of not being in the "right" relationship.

A person might worry the person they're with is ultimately not "the one." Many people also enter or stay in relationships for reasons like money, children, sex, or convenience, so they don't commit at a higher level because they know this is not someone they want to be with or stay with long term.


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Fear of being in an unhealthy relationship.

Relationships end for many reasons. However, the unknown or the fear of something bad happening can push an individual away from commitment. This may be especially true for people who've been in unhealthy relationships in the past, characterized by abandonment, infidelity, abuse, or other hurtful dynamics.

Trust issues because of past hurts by people close to them.

When someone close to you breaks your trust, it can prevent some people from ever trusting anyone else again, including their partner. They may project the last scenario onto their new partner.


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Childhood trauma or abuse.

Unresolved trauma and abuse can rear its ugly little head at any time. It is like an open wound. Therefore, being with someone else can be a constant trigger and reopening of the wound, even when you desperately want to heal.

Unmet childhood needs or attachment issues.

Our primary caregivers are supposed to be the ones who met our needs and helped us navigate this world as successfully as possible. But many do not get the love, protection, safety, and care that they need as children, and they grow up projecting those unmet needs in romantic relationships.

Complicated family dynamics while growing up.

Family can be tough, and what we learn from our families sticks with us. Things you no longer value or do not want to uphold can take a long time (if ever) to unlearn, and commitment issues can be one way those dynamics show up in romantic relationships.

How to get over your commitment issues.

Commitment issues aren't something you can just get over overnight. Overcoming commitment issues must be intentional in order for progress to be made. In some cases, this may even be a lifelong journey, depending on the root cause of it. The key, just like with any other issue, is to acknowledge it. Stop running from it, and own the fact that you struggle in this area.

If you wish to improve in this area, you should consider the following:


Talk about it.

Being honest with yourself, your partner, or even someone in your support system is the first step toward improvement. You cannot heal what you are unwilling to acknowledge. Talking to a professional and working through some of your experiences can be helpful.


Learn about your attachment style.

Your attachment style, which stems from your childhood, could be a major eye-opener to the commitment issues. An attachment style is simply how you relate to others in relationships, whether you're anxious, avoidant, or secure. Learning your attachment style is vital because it typically gives you a blueprint of why you behave the way you do in romantic and nonromantic relationships. If you have an avoidant attachment style, then it makes sense that commitment would be an issue for you in general, and learning how to have a secure attachment style might be a starting place for you to heal your commitment issues.


Consider couples' therapy.

If you are already in a relationship and are struggling to commit at a higher level or to a next step such as moving in together or marriage, then speaking to a professional with your partner could help you understand what's holding you back and how to get over the barrier if it's right for you. Here's our full guide to couples therapy for more info.


Practice commitment in other areas of your life.

If a person is struggling with commitment in romantic relationships, they may also struggle in other areas of their life as well, such as in the workplace, at school, or with family and friends. Take notice of how you feel in those situations, and have a candid conversation with your partner.

Then, practice commitment in those other areas of your life! Learn to be more emotionally available by expressing your thoughts and feelings and working through difficult emotions within yourself and others. Keep your word when it comes to the commitments you make with family and friends. Follow through in a timely manner on your assignments at work. And don't forget to make future plans with your partner and other loved ones!


Consider whether monogamy is right for you.

Long-term or monogamous relationships are not for everyone, and that's OK. Take some time to understand what you're really looking for in relationships. Here is mbg’s guide to ethical nonmonogamy, in case you're curious about what else is out there.

What to do if you're dating someone with commitment issues.

Commitment issues are not always a deal-breaker. However, if your partner isn't unwilling to acknowledge the truth and work on overcoming the challenge, it'll be hard for the relationship to last long term.

If you are dealing with someone with commitment issues, the first thing to do is determine if this relationship is for you. No matter how much you love and care about someone, a relationship should be serving your needs and progressing (if that's what you want). Ignoring red flags or deal-breakers is a sure way to end up in an unhappy relationship.

Ask your partner why they have commitment issues in the first place, and seek to understand their anxieties around commitment. Don't focus on forever but on the here and now. In other words, if you are not in the phase of getting married or having kids, then focus on your current situation and the present moment. Watch for improvements. Remember: Slow progress is still progress. If you see they are trying, acknowledge their efforts.

If there isn't any progress and you do not appear to be on the same page about the relationship's future, then this may be a relationship you need to end before one or more parties get deeply hurt.

Treatment adherence problems in comorbid patients with rheumatoid arthritis | Nikitina

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2. Vertkin A.L., Skotnikov A.S. Comorbidity. Lechaschi Vrach Journal. 2013; 6:66-69. [In Russian].

3. L.B. Lazebnik, Konev Yu.V., Drozdov V.N. et al. Polipragmasy: geriatric aspect of the problem. Consilium Medicum. 2007; nine(12):29-34 [in Russian].

4. Damjanov N., Nurmohamed M.T., Szekanecz Z. Biologics, cardiovascular effects and cancer. BMC medical icine. 2014; 12:48. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-12-48.

5. Nikitina N.M., Afanasyev I.A., Rebrov A.P. Comorbidity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology Science and Practice. 2015; 53(2): 149-54. doi:10.14412/1995-4484-2015-149-154 [in Russian].

6. Beljalov F.I. Twelve theses of comorbidity. Clinical medicine. 2009; 12:69-71. [in Russian].

7. World Health Organization: Adherence to Long-Term Therapies, Evidence for Action. Geneva: WHO, 2003; 1-230

8. De Wit M.P., Smolen J.S., Gossec L, van der Heijde D.M. Treating rheumatoid arthritis to target: the patient version of the internation al r ecommendations. Annals of the rheumatic diseases. 2011; 70(6):891-5. doi: 10.1136/ard.2010.146662

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Patient card. How to improve adherence to treatment » Medvestnik

The problem of patient adherence to treatment is one of the key problems in healthcare. Non-compliance with the doctor's recommendations, violation of drug regimens leads to a deterioration in the patient's condition, which ultimately increases the financial burden on the industry. Doctors also suffer from non-compliant patients - they cease to experience job satisfaction, feel their “uselessness”. There are several ways to influence the situation. nine0003

What is the cost of low compliance

The Journal of Applied Research reports that in the US, 30 to 50% of patients ignore or misunderstand treatment instructions. Hospitalization costs due to non-compliance with doctors' prescriptions are estimated at $8.5 billion a year, and the entire financial burden on the healthcare system reaches $100 billion annually. Approximately 125,000 people with treatable diseases die every year because they do not take their medicines properly. nine0003

According to the Mayo Clinic, misuse of anti-rejection medications is the third leading cause of failed organ transplants.

There are no similar statistics in Russia, but the problem is no less acute.

Making a difference

The Customer Journey Map (CJM) tool is gaining popularity in medical and pharmaceutical marketing. Its meaning is to follow the path of the patient and understand at what stage difficulties arise that prevent the continuation of treatment. This may be an inconvenient form of release or package size (14 tablets are needed per course, and only 10 and 20 are produced in packages) of the drug, a complex dosage regimen, an adverse reaction of the body that greatly reduces the quality of life: diarrhea, insomnia, drowsiness, allergic reactions. Having found out the “bottlenecks”, it is possible to correct the therapy. nine0003

If there is no alternative, and medical therapy is inevitably accompanied by discomfort, the patient should be warned about this immediately, saying that this is the only possible, but effective option.

Some doctors also share tips from other patients on how to take a drug if it has an unpleasant texture and taste and causes vomiting, or if the pill is too large and difficult to swallow.

There are patients who simply forget to take their medicine or perform a procedure on time. They can be offered to connect one of the many mobile applications that send reminders, or start a pill box with such functionality. nine0003

How to gain trust

It is more difficult to work with patients who do not follow the doctor's recommendations due to personal beliefs. For example, they believe that taking a medicine for hypertension at their age is “too early”, “bad for the liver”, “expensive”. How to convince them? Tell in detail about the possible consequences of such behavior or, conversely, how their life and well-being will change if they start therapy.

Often the problem of low adherence to treatment is explained by the patient's distrust of the doctor and medicine. Therefore, the basic recommendation when working with any patient is to explain the treatment tactics in simple words before prescribing something. nine0003

The topic of compliance is inextricably linked with such a doctor's professional skill as communication, comments Roman Polikarpov, chairman of the public organization "Young Doctors of the Don", one of the initiators of opening a school of professional communications for doctors.

“On the one hand, academic training programs for doctors do not provide sufficient training in communication skills with the patient and his relatives, counseling,” the expert is sure. “On the other hand, the very paradigm of the doctor-patient relationship in our country is still built on paternalism.” nine0003

According to him, a more effective model could be a partnership model, which provides for taking into account the individual characteristics of the patient, a joint search for a solution.

How compliance is related to burnout

“Some doctors generally do not set themselves such a task – to work on compliance,” says Vera Kobzeva, consultant on medical communications, patient centricity, general director of the consulting company - They work according to the principle: "I said, I appointed, and whether the patient will follow the appointments is his business." nine0003

But with such an approach, one should not expect high rates of treatment.

Learn more