Standing in line, Jenny wondered if she should tell Lisa she never wants to get married. She knew it could be a big deal-breaker. After all, Lisa was a hopeless romantic who believed in marriage, kids, a white picket fence, and happily ever after. It’s not like Jenny wanted to date other people though. She just wanted a relationship without the finality of marriage.
How do you overcome a fear of getting close to a romantic partner?
If you’ve dated before, chances are you’ve brought some baggage into your new relationship. It could be codependency, conflict-avoidance, lack of trust, or a fear of being vulnerable.
For Jenny, it was broken trust as a result of infidelity. Since then, all her relationships have been short, sweet, and totally non-committal.
Lisa sat in the restaurant wondering if she should give Jenny an ultimatum. Jenny was everything Lisa longed for in a partner — fun, outgoing, didn’t take life too seriously — but she was also a total commitment-phobe. “Is there something wrong with me?” Lisa asked herself.
What’s Holding You Back?
None of us make it through life’s trials unscathed, and certain experiences can change how we approach relationships.
So, what’s holding you back? For Jenny, it was unresolved pain from a cheating partner.
There are several key behavioral traits that indicate you may have a fear of getting too involved emotionally. Read on to find out if you exhibit any of them.
- You find it difficult to bring up negative issues
Do you have trouble bringing up the things that bother you in your relationship? Do you feel like you want to avoid upsetting the apple-cart, so you just stay quiet?
If there’s a problem, someone has to bring it up, so it might as well be you.
If you’re still struggling, look inward to find out why conflict resolution is difficult for you.
Perhaps a traumatic conflict from your past has made it hard for you to voice any concerns you might have in your relationships. Talking to a professional can help resolve these feelings.
- You don’t trust your intuition
In her gut, Lisa knows Jenny won’t commit — and that it has nothing to do with her. Jenny simply has personal issues she needs to work out.
So, why can’t Lisa just trust her intuition?
Remember, nobody knows you better than you do. Reflect on your past to try and identify the cause of your self-doubt.
Try asking yourself, “Is this problem going to matter a year from now?”
- You ignore the warning signs
Lisa knew the score from the start. Jenny would always shy away from making long-term plans — a clear indicator of commitment-phobia.
However, Lisa decided to go with the flow, hoping things would change.
From our work at the Gay Couples Institute, we’ve learned that being deliberate in your choices helps to attract a like-minded partner.
Recently, we worked with Kristopher. Having spent a great deal of time looking for the right partner in all the wrong places, he’d totally given up.
He was scaling the corporate ladder with ease but felt like he was failing in his personal life.
Several sessions later, we discovered that Kristopher’s mindset was holding him back. He set himself up for failure simply by the way he approached dating.
Kristopher thought bars and clubs were the ideal place to find a partner, but the nightlife just wasn’t his scene, so he was never very comfortable — not conducive to romance.
Together, we figured out what Kristopher really wanted in a partner and the environments he felt most comfortable in, which helped him attract like-minded people. He has now been with his partner for two years.
Jenny finally opened up to Lisa about her fear of commitment. Jenny had issues she needed to work on, but Lisa understood and decided she was happy to wait.
“Communication Is Key”
That old chestnut.
Sure, these platitudes might sound good, but they do nothing to explain the hows and whys of communication.
Understanding how you and your partner communicate can help you successfully express and overcome your fears. We also work with singles like Kristopher.
Get in touch to speak to one of our friendly, knowledgeable professionals and learn practical skills you can use to improve your relationships.
ABOUT SAM GARANZINI, LMFT, LPCC, and ALAPAKI YEE, LMFT
Sam Garanzini and Alapaki Yee are Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapists and the co-founders of the Gay Couples Institute – the world’s only gay and lesbian couples counseling clinic. The Gay Couples Institute has locations in Northern California and Manhattan, as well as online counseling services available.
For more information about how the Gay Couples Institute can help you, please visit: www.gaycouplesinstitute.org