The fear of commitment is a common psychological issue that doesn’t discriminate by gender. The stereotype often implies men are more likely to exhibit commitment phobia; however, women can experience it equally. This fear of commitment in women, also known as “gamophobia,” can stem from numerous factors and can significantly affect a woman’s love relationships.
For example, fear of commitment might be deeply rooted in a person’s past experiences or traumas. For instance, physical or sexual abuse in childhood, one’s own bitter divorce or that of her parents and other traumas. All of these can can lead to a fear of repeating similar patterns in one’s own intimate relationships.
Understanding Fear of Commitment in Women
Fear of commitment in women can manifest in a variety of ways. For example, some women might repeatedly break off relationships as they become serious, avoid making long-term plans, or exhibit an inability to make decisions about the future. They may also choose partners who are emotionally unavailable or incompatible, thereby ensuring the relationship doesn’t progress toward commitment.
In my clinical experience, there are three major ways in which fear of commitment plays out in women. These relationship patterns are: The Flame Out, I’ll Make you Love me and Chase Me. We’ll describe each of them with an actual client example.
Three Types of Fear of Commitment in Women: The Flame Out
This is one of the most common type of fear of commitment relationship patterns. You meet a guy, there’s lots of sparks, and he says all the right things! Wow, you think to yourself, He’s different; he’s the One. You are higher than a 747. Then, you jump into the sack and have urgent, mind-blowing, maybe even unprotected sex. He says he wants to spend the rest of his life with you. You talk for hours and he understands you in a way that no one else does. Some of the texts he sends you are amazing—short love poems (about you) that zap your heart. You spend a glorious weekend together. Then kaput. Finito. Nada. You sit there alone, making excuses for why his text, e-mail, or call never comes.
Ginger, a 28-year-old artist, describes her Fear of Commitment Relationship Pattern
Justin seemed to be almost the opposite of my ex. Very talkative, very expressive and openly sensitive. I got a feeling he might be a little like my brother-in-law, John—just a real good guy. We spent five hours on the phone together the first time we talked. He said he can’t stop thinking about me, that he’d never met a woman like me.
Over the next few weeks Justin started crying about how much he “felt for” Ginger. How amazing he felt when he was with her. Just when Ginger started daydreaming about a simple sunset wedding at their favorite beach, Justin disappeared into the dating Nether-worlds, never to be heard from again.
Fear of Commitment in Women: Pattern #2 I’ll Make You Love Me
You’re turned on by the challenge of changing and winning over a guy who has “potential.” When you meet a guy you like, you immediately work overtime to get him: hopping right into bed, making exotic dinners, even buying him tickets to the playoffs. When you’re with him, you’re not yourself with him. In fact, you’re busy trying to be the image of what you think he wants in a woman. You’re his love slave, chef, therapist, and savior. But one thing you are not being is authentic, a real person, with real needs and desires. Those you keep hidden. You may feel that you are not that lovable, or that if you started asking for things, you’d be a drain.
All you want, consciously at least, is for him to stay and never leave you. What you get is a phone that never buzzes to announce a text from him. Ironically, your over-giving may even propel him into the arms of the nearest girly-girl who needs him to take care of her! When you finally get the bad news through the grapevine, you’re completely baffled at how stupid men can be.
Sheila, a thirty-three-year-old nurse, put it this way:
I’ve only had a few real long-lasting relationships. The worst part is that in each one I felt like I lost myself, my friends, my whole identity. I would come home and just do what he was doing, or hang out with his friends. I felt like I was being compromised, yet I wanted the relationship and really loved this person. The weird thing is that somehow in each relationship, the guy came to the conclusion that we were very different people, so we broke up and went our separate ways.
Fear of Commitment in Women: Pattern #3 Chase Me
You meet a guy, have great sex in his king-sized bed, and open up not only sexually but emotionally. Everything is unfolding perfectly. Too perfectly. After the cozy coupling and three-hour confessionals, you instinctively pull away. Almost against your own will, you find yourself running away while secretly hoping he’ll chase after you.
Your fear of commitment surfaces like a Loch Ness monster and starts running the show. You pull back and become unavailable, distant, or quiet—or you act crazy and dump him. Even if he acts loving, you insist that he doesn’t really care about you. It happens almost against your own will and for no particular reason.
The Chase Me is all about fear. When you start to fall for someone, you ultimately end up breaking up with him before he can hurt you. This way, you can control the heartbreak. What you really want is for the man you care for to smash through the barricades you’ve thrown up and ride in on his white horse and claim you, even if you are halfway around the world in Tokyo. But you never tell him. You set him up to fail you. Because you’ve pushed him away, he doesn’t chase after you. And you say to yourself and your friends, “I knew it all along.”
Fear of Commitment in Women: The Case of Shoko
Shoko, a 40-year-old, successful litigation lawyer, describes her fear of commitment relationship pattern:
John was an up and coming superstar lawyer in a firm we often went up against. I loved to watch him work, even when we were on opposite sides of a case. One day we wound up having dinner, going to my place and hooking up. I think I had about four orgasms (and I had never been multi-orgasmic before that time). John and I were on the same wavelength; we got each other without having to say a word. After four weeks of juicy dating he used the L word and for some reason I felt totally turned off. I took a three-month assignment in Vegas and he came to visit me regularly.
We talked about living together back in Chicago but I told him to go out with other women in the meantime just to be sure. I don’t know what possessed me to say that, but when he asked if I was kidding, I said no. I think I wanted him to sweep me up in his arms and tell me how ridiculous that was. Instead he got this sad look on his face and left. I never once told him how I really felt about him and gave him very little encouragement. I hear that he’s gotten married, and meanwhile, I’m still waiting for Mr. Right.
Fear of Commitment in Women: Bottom Line
So there you have the top three fear of commitment relationship patterns that push men away. As you can see, these kinds of patterns truly work against you in love. It is great to ask yourself, am I unconsciously stuck in any or these patterns? If the answer is yes, work on consciously breaking your old self-defeating patterns by dating against type. Date guys who are different–who maybe don’t look the way you usually insist they look! Or ones that are more into you than you are used to! Or ones that like to claim you if you do pull away. And if you catch yourself beginning to act out in a self-sabotaging way, nip it in the bud!
The fear of commitment in women is a significant issue deserving of more attention and understanding. It’s crucial to remember that everyone moves at their own pace when it comes to commitment, and what might seem like fear might just be a person needing more time. However, if fear is hindering your ability to form and maintain healthy relationships, seeking professional help could be a valuable step forward.
In fact, a huge resource is also available to you right here. Have a breakthrough session by phone or Skype with one of my expert dating coaches. Our team has helped tens of thousands of singles break self-sabotaging relationship patterns and find love that is just right for them.