Why Can't I Commit?By Dr. Margaret Paul
March 10, 2014
Do you have problems committing to a relationship, or are you involved with someone who has a fear of commitment?
Louis wrote to me:
"I have been dating an amazing girl, but recently ended it because I am not sure if she is good for me. Our relationship has been very dramatic, partially due to my uncertainty of wanting to be with her. I could not determine if my feelings were coming from unreasonable fears that I should overcome, or from a real warning inside me that knew it wasn't right for me. Even now after I have ended it, I have deep regrets for doing so, and am trying to figure out how to apologize and get her back in my life. Yet, I am no less confused and still do not know if I want to commit to her as a partner, or just as a friend, or if it’s best to just leave it alone and not attempt to reconnect. I feel like I love her, I don't want to lose her, but I don't know what I can offer her."
Louis is suffering from a deep fear of engulfment. In attachment terms, he has an avoidant relationship style. He feels like he loves this amazing girl, but he is obviously terrified of commitment, so he keeps finding reasons not to be with her. He wants her back, but he doesn't. He doesn't want to lose her, but the real issue is that he is terrified of losing himself.
Until Louis learns to love himself – which he obviously doesn't, indicated in the statement, "I don't know what I can offer her," he will continue to be torn apart by wanting to be in a relationship with her and being too scared of losing himself.
If Louis had a good sense of himself, he wouldn't have the fear that he doesn't have anything to offer her. If he had done the Inner Bonding work of learning to love and value his essence, he would know exactly what he has to offer her, and he would not be vulnerable to giving himself up to protect himself from losing her.
The fear of commitment comes from not having a strong loving Adult self who will set limits against being engulfed and controlled – against losing oneself, to protect against losing the other. Because a strong loving Adult makes the decision that we would rather lose the other than lose ourselves, the fear of engulfment goes away.
But, you may ask, if Louis is so afraid of losing his girlfriend, why has he brought this about by leaving her?
By ending the relationship, he ends the drama and turmoil of worrying about losing her or losing himself. He doesn’t have to deal with these deep fears as long as he is not in a relationship.
But then he misses her and feels lonely. His fear of engulfment is gone ,but his fear of rejection is up. Now he is worried that he has lost her, so he starts to think about getting her back . He might work hard to get her back, but if she opens to him again, guess what? Up comes his fear of engulfment!
Louis is on a seesaw. When his fear of rejection us up, his fear of engulfment is down – which is what happens when he is not in a relationship. But once he is back in a relationship, his fear of engulfment is up and he has thoughts like "Do I really love her?" "Do I really want to be with her?" "Is she the right one for me?"
Louis, no one will be the right one for you until you practice Inner Bonding and develop your loving Adult self, so that you can heal your fears of rejection and of engulfment.
Join me for my 30-Day at-home Relationships Course: "Loving Relationships: A 30-Day at-Home Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul - For people who are partnered and people who want to be partnered."
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Have you ever noticed that when you smile you feel good? Or, do you believe that you have to feel good first to smile? Try smiling more and see what happens!
By Dr. Margaret Paul