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Am I Commitment-Phobic?

Question:

I have dated probably close to 12 guys in the past 8 years. Out of all these men, I had only one long on/off relationship that lasted about 7 years. I had always thought he was “The One” but after waiting for him indefinitely, we finally ended it last year. Since then I have dated a couple of guys, all of which are nice enough, but have not gotten any luck going anywhere further than that. I don’t feel it’s difficult to be friends with men and to date them but I just don’t know why I’m always scared to be labelled boyfriend  and girlfriend exclusively.

Do you think I’m afraid of commitment? I don’t even have a credit card or loan and pay everything, including bills, by debit card or cash because I do not want to owe anything or anyone. Or could it be that I can never feel I can trust somebody enough because my parents divorced when I was a teenager? I’m confused, lonely and feel depressed at times.

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Answer:

The fact that you fear being labelled boyfriend and girlfriend does indicate a possible phobia about committment. You are not alone in being doubtful about commitment because of parents who divorced when they were young. In fact, it’s one of the major reasons why more people live single than at any time in the last 50 to 100 years.

Yet, like all of us, you want intimacy and permanency in a relationship. Not having that is one of the reasons you feel depressed. Human beings crave and dependent upon relationships of all kinds. Intimacy is one of the most important of those with having family, friends and  acquaintances close behind. Without these things we do not feel fulfilled.

There are any number of reasons why you may fear commitment. Parental divorce is one of them. However, how your parents got along with one another while they were married and after their divorce has a lot to do with how you feel. If your mother seemed like a woman who was abused by her husband that would color your view of relationships. In other words, with that as a role model of how men and women get along, there would be real reasons for fearing relationships.

Sometimes people have their own reasons for avoiding intimacy regardless of what happened in their childhood. Fears of becoming dependent on another person is a real driving force for some people. As you say, you prefer paying your bills with cash or debit card rather than owing anyone anything. To owe money is to have a dependency on others and is to be in their power. Please do not misunderstand because the fact that you have no debts is a great thing. There is nothing wrong with being free of debt.

Whatever are the reasons for you remaining single, it really bothers you and that is why I am recommending psychotherapy. Interpersonal psychotherapy is a way of examining your relationship to your self and to others. This could help you sort our you relationship issues so that you can make your own decisions without fear. Then, there is always cognitive behavior therapy which can help you change the negative thoughts you have so that you feel free to decide what you want without distorted ways of thinking getting in your way.

Good luck to you in your quest for a meaningful relationship.

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