Several readers have asked whether commitment phobia is a kind of avoidant attachment. I wouldn’t say that commitment phobia is a kind of avoidant attachment. But the two conditions often coincide. True commitment phobia is fear of any kind of commitment that involves other people, not just relationship commitment. People with commitment phobia need not be afraid of committing to things that do not involve other people. They may have no problem buying a house or a car or getting a dog. Their fear usually is connected with making a promise to another person. Falling in love with a person with commitment phobia can be a nightmare. Watch out for signs of commitment phobia before you find yourself hopelessly in love with someone who is not capable of having a relationship. A person with commitment phobia need not display every one of the following symptoms but the more symptoms he displays the more likely it is that he suffers from the condition.
1. His past relationships are all short and/or very noncommittal
If he has never been married and has had a series of short relationships despite not being all that young, then he probably is not likely to commit to a long term relationship in the future either. It’s also a red flag if he has had long relationships but these relationships didn’t involve any serious commitment on his part.
2. He is not willing to commit to dates or nights out weeks in advance
Making plans for the future that are not strictly required is a major cause of fear for someone who suffers from commitment phobia. He will prefer to make same-day plans or commit only a few days in advance.
3. He is not letting you know whether he is attending your party
Just as a person with commitment phobia will be afraid of agreeing to dates several days or week in advance, he will also have difficulties saying ‘yes’ to a party or meeting, unless this is strictly required of him. He may say that he might come to your party or even that he probably will be there. But he will prefer not to say with certainty that he can make it.
4. He uses a lot of modifiers when he speaks
If you listen carefully, you will hear him use ‘probably’, ‘maybe’, ‘probably not’, ‘I might’, ‘I might not’ and the like a lot more than other people. If asked when he will be home from work, he won’t say he will be home by 5. Instead he will say he probably will be home by 5.
5. He is sexually active
People with commitment phobia have a need for intimacy like everyone else. But their need is not getting met by being close to another human being. To compensate for this, they may be very sexually active, sometimes bordering promiscuous.
6. All his relationships are undefined
If you are in a relationship with a person with commitment phobia, you most likely will not have had any significant conversations with him about your relationship. You may find yourself not knowing what kind of relationship you have, despite having been with him for several years.
7. He doesn’t say the L-word
People with commitment phobia have difficulties expressing their feelings. They may even be afraid of having feelings. So they are not likely to say that they love you and also mean it.
8. He doesn’t like to use the words ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’
If he is very commitment phobic, even the relatively innocent words ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ will signify more commitment than he is capable of. He may simply avoid talking about the status of your relationship, or he may offer some lame excuse for why he doesn’t want to use these labels.
9. He doesn’t have a whole lot of close friends
He may know a lot of people. He may even call them friends. But he doesn’t have many really close buddies. There is most likely no one in his life he can talk to about everything.
10. He is unpredictable
You never know quite how he will behave or what kind of mood he will be in. One day he may be really sweet and seem almost normal and the next day he may avoid you altogether. His behavior never ceases to surprise you.