by Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
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In my counseling
work, I often work with clients who have a deep fear of commitment.
These individuals generally say that they want to be in a loving
relationship, yet they keep picking “the wrong people.”
Susan, 38, sought
my help because she was in two relationships at the same time. This
didn’t feel right to her, so she knew that she had to make a choice.
Yet she could not seem to decide which relationship was right for
Susan had been
in a relationship with Shawn for two years. Shawn, 43, was a delightful
man, fun loving and sweet. However, Shawn would emotionally disappear
for long periods of time, and he was clear that he did not want
children – which was very important to Susan. In addition, Shawn
was always living on the edge financially.
Then Susan met
Calvin, who was totally different than Shawn. Calvin stayed emotionally
present, had a job he loved and made very good money, and wanted
to have children. Susan was very attracted to Calvin and in her
heart she knew that he was a much better choice for her than Shawn.
Yet she could not seem to let go of Shawn.
As we explored
the situation, it became apparent that Susan couldn’t let go of
Shawn because she was terrified of commitment. With Shawn there
was no chance of being in a committed relationship – he was not
really available. Yet Susan felt “safe” with Shawn. Safe from what?
that she was terrified of really being in love, which was a possibility
with Calvin but not with Shawn. In her mind, being in love meant
losing her freedom. When she thought of being with Calvin, she felt
like she couldn’t breathe. Her concept of a loving relationship
was that, “You are together all the time. I couldn’t just go and
be with my friends or take a vacation with a friend. Commitment
means giving up freedom.”
No wonder she
felt safe with Shawn! As long as Susan felt she had to give herself
up to be in a loving relationship, she would not be able to make
another client of mine, has the exact same problem. When he is in
a relationship, he is a very “nice guy.” He tends to try to please
his partner because, in his mind, taking care of himself and doing
the things he wants to do is selfish. Yet, in giving himself up
to his partner, he ends up resenting her and ending the relationship.
Like Susan, he is operating under the false belief that he has to
give up his personal freedom to be in a loving relationship.
Both Susan and
Douglas have a major false belief that is causing their fear of
commitment: that loving another person means doing what that person
wants instead of staying true to themselves and taking loving care
of themselves. They both have a false definition of selfish. They
think they are being selfish if they take care of themselves instead
of care-take their partners. I offered them this definition of selfish:
Selfish is when
you expect someone else to give themselves up for you – to not do
what they want to do and instead do what you want them to do. Selfish
is when you do not support others in taking loving care of themselves
and instead expect them to take care of you.
up is a form of control. You want to control how the other person
feels about you by doing what they want you to do. When you do what
another person wants you to do from love and caring, with no agenda
to get their approval, you feel wonderful. But when you give yourself
up from fear of your partner’s anger or withdrawal, you will feel
trapped and resentful. To be in a committed relationship, your first
commitment needs to be to yourself – to your truth, integrity and
take loving care of yourself is the key to healing a fear of commitment.
When you are taking loving care of yourself, you will be filled
with love and you will have much love to share with your partner!
Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books,
including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You? and "Healing
Your Aloneness." She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding
healing process. Learn Inner bonding now! Visit her website for
a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com
or email her at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phone sessions available.
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