Ask a counsellor: ‘Why am I so scared of commitment?’

Ask a counsellor: ‘Why am I so scared of commitment?’

The problem…

“I know I’m lucky to have the most wonderful boyfriend. He’s an amazing person and somebody I never thought I could possibly meet, and I’m happier than I have been in a long, long time.

“So why is it that I can’t shake the feeling that, at the end of the day, we all enter this world alone and leave the same way, so I should never rely on someone else for my happiness? Why do I constantly think he’s going to leave me?

“It’s stupid, I know, but I go through periods when I withdraw from him and also find it hard to open up and tell him what I’m thinking. I really want this relationship to work but, at the same time, I want to be independent. I can’t bear the thought of getting stuck in a rut or routine, but my only way of avoiding this is to never settle down.

“I’m 28, have one failed marriage already behind me, and I’m feeling really down in the dumps. Why am I so scared of committing myself to someone?”

Fiona says…

“While no one can dispute the fact that we all enter this world alone and leave it the same way, that doesn’t mean you can’t share the rest of the time with people. You say you’ve one failed marriage behind you and that is, perhaps, a hint that you been badly hurt in the past. If that’s the case, then it’s hardly surprising that you are reluctant to risk committing yourself.

“Every real relationship carries with it the risk of being hurt; that’s unavoidable. If you invest respect, trust and love in a genuine relationship and these are not returned or are abused, getting hurt is inevitable.

“That’s no reason to avoid commitment though. Whilst you’ll probably never get hurt, you’ll lose any chance to experience the very real happiness that a genuinely loving relationship can bring.

“I think your reluctance goes much deeper than simply avoiding getting hurt. You talk of not wanting to get stuck in a rut; not having to rely on someone else for your happiness and wanting to be independent. This suggests that you equate a relationship with sacrifice and also being controlled.

“While I agree that some compromise is usually necessary, that doesn’t always mean sacrifice and it certainly shouldn’t mean someone else is controlling you. Being in a relationship certainly doesn’t have to mean you will find yourself in a rut – whilst some couples end up like that (and may even enjoy it), it certainly isn’t inevitable. If you work to develop new challenges and interests in life, you can avoid this.

“As for a loss of independence, that is up to you. These days many women have their own source or sources of income, even when/if they have children.

Relationships don’t have to mean sacrificing yourself (iStock/PA)
Relationships don’t have to mean sacrificing yourself (iStock/PA)

“I am not trying to convince you that your present relationship is the right one for you – I am suggesting that you open up and try it – even at the risk of getting hurt. You say you’re happier than you’ve been in a long, long time and yet you also say you’re feeling down in the dumps.

“It sounds very much to me as if you might be quite depressed and might benefit from talking to your doctor. I also think it might be worthwhile letting your boyfriend know that your periods of withdrawal are about you coming to terms with your problems. It must be quite worrying for him, so it’s worth taking the time to reassure him when you’re not feeling withdrawn.”

:: If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

- Press Association

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