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Afraid Of Commitment

Question:

My partner and I (currently living in different countries) are both in our early 30s and both terrified of commitment. What can we do to address this issue (we both agree we want to!)….

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

It’s always interesting to look at ways that people who are afraid of commitment structure their relationship so that commitment is difficult to accomplish. Long distance relationships are common devices used in such circumstances. The relationship is close enough so that you have a common identity as a couple, but builds in plenty of distance and independence so that it never feels too smothering. The prolonged times apart keep the relationship exciting, but don’t allow for real daily-contact intimacy to take root. Independent interests and goals don’t get compromised. The long distance relationship is an ideal solution really, except that it is unstable and unsatisfying over the long haul. Fear is fear and talk is talk. It’s worthwhile to talk about your fears, but ultimately you’ll still have to face them down by taking some sort of action. Failing to take action is also a way of taking action (although it doesn’t help one to feel good about ones’ self). To deal with a fear of commitment, you’ll have to either commit to this relationship, or break it off and find another one you can commit to. I suggest talking with each other (and possibly with a counselor together (on the telephone or via email) about what exactly you are each afraid of, and how realistic those fears may be. Knowing what you are afraid of gives you a handle; you’ll be able to figure out how realistic your fears are and (by talking with other people who have been in long term intimate relationships before) how such problems are typically solved. There are only three choices really; taking the plunge and getting together (moving in together), breaking up, or continuing to sit on the fence until one or the other happen. Ultimately, if you become unhappy enough with fence sitting (as you both appear to be), you’ll find it within yourselves to get brave and work out one or the other solutions.

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