Fear of Commitment Can Feel Like It’s Real. It’s Not

commitmentCommitment. Why do so many of us find it so hard? I spent many of the early years of my marriage terrified. It was exhausting. Yes, some of our problems were real but there were concrete things we could (and did) do to handle them. It was the things I made up in my head that I had trouble dealing with. Dreadful things. I battled with the demons in my mind.

My fears caused continual mental anguish and even physical pain. They sent me down dark hallways and spine-tingling crevasses. And, in a way, that was the point. Fortunately, thanks to years of work in Twelve Step Programs, counselling and especially meditation, I knew that these fears were not real. Through meditation I had discovered just how addicted I was to feeling bad; to having all these emotions coursing through my body, putting me on edge. It was like a drug and I used it to feel alive even though it was killing me on many levels. I would make things up and then react to them as if they were real. Madness? Yes. But boy did I get a kick out of it.

Often I felt like a trapped animal. My partner was getting too close. It terrified me. And that’s the way I’d acted in many of my previous relationship. Fight or flight. Lashing out at those who got in my way. Yes, I had been hurt in the past –by other lovers, by my upbringing, by my friends –but this fear of commitment was irrational, mad, out of control terror. A base reaction. A lot of us think that when someone really gets to know us they won’t love us anymore. If that is the case, it’s far better they get to know you as soon as possible. Then if they can’t handle the truth at least you can move on quickly.

One of the fears that tormented me was the “but what if there’s someone better out there” kind. And, now I say, well, maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. You’re never going to be in a wonderful and loving relationship if that’s the way you approach it. I knew, deep in my heart that if I couldn’t be in a relationship with this man, I would never be able to make a relationship work with anyone, ever. He was very much in touch with himself and continued to do the work to clear his emotional baggage despite the constant setbacks we suffered. I had to show up and do the work too. I knew he would always support me in that.

But often I didn’t want to and acted like a spoilt brat. Sometimes, I must admit, I still do act like a spoiled brat. However these days I know the truth and the truth is where we always end up. We love each other. We are committed to each other on every level and it’s no longer terrifying.

Mary-Lou Stephens’  meditation memoir, Sex, Drugs and Meditation, is the  story of how meditation helped changed her life, save her job and find a husband. The sequel How To Stay Married will be released soon. It’s the truth about the happy ending.

6 thoughts on “Fear of Commitment Can Feel Like It’s Real. It’s Not

  1. I get it. Have been too worried about attachments for over a decade. Have become comfortable with my self but not trusting myself to give it another go…working on it!?

  2. I have to say this article has inspired me to keep fighting for what I want. I have been hurt many times in my past relationships. I met a wonderful guy well even thou he had his flaws and stuff he was a good guy and everything seemed to go perfect until one day I woke up in panic sweating and imagining me horrible things in my head…. That feeling will not go away and decided to break up with him because “in my head” I had stopped loving him and there was nothing else that could’ve been done to save our one year relationship. All my life all I have ever wanted was a good guy, and a long and healthy relationship that will lead to marriage. After that experience I realized that that feeling i had that night besides of being a panic attack was an intense fear of commitment and I came to realized that three years after I kept dating “assholes” who disappointed me and now two weeks ago I met a nice guy, who wants some thing serious. Who knows what he wants in life… I felt attracted to him and then after a week I started panicking like I once did for my ex boyfriend. I don’t know how to let this fear go away and take like one day at the time. I wake up every night thinking horrible things and I don’t know how to stop my mind. Can you help me?

    1. Dear Vanesa,

      I understand where you’re coming from. I imagined all kinds of terrible things about my husband, the worst things imaginable. Meditation really helped me, learning the art of loving detachment in all areas of my life and in this case my thoughts. Have you sought counselling or therapy? I’ve done a lot of that in my life as well.

      Recognise the patterns of your mind – you’ve done this already. Know that you have invented these thoughts and that they are not real. You created them you, can destroy them too. You are capable of doing this and of allowing yourself to be loved. You are worth it.

      Much love

      Mary-Lou

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