- Dr. Love in the Media
Woman With Commitment Phobia
June 12, 2000 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
I am a 23yr old female with serious committment issues. . . is that a contradiction or what?
Anyway, I have never had a serious relationship (2mths max) I know I have pretty high standards for the kind of guy I'm looking for and now I'm wondering if I'm overlooking the obvious Mr. Right.
I recently met a very nice guy (30yrs old) we have a lot of similar interests, he is very giving, but in the 3wks that I've known him, he's mentioned marriage (I'm sure jokingly) 7 times. I told him point blank that I had a fear of commitment. He is also very smothering, always wanting to hold or touch me (continuosly) when we are together.
I think he's insecure a bit, I think he was used in some of his previous relationships. My delimma is I told him I needed some space right now, I've already kind of ruled him out but am wondering if I really should?
I should mention that I have fended for myself since I was 14 and am very independent and rely souly on myself. He wants to be so involved in my personal issues. . even though we've only known each other for a brief time.
I just don't want to overlook someone just b/c he doesn't match every thing on my 'list'. I'm confused, and unsure. . but know that I can't help my feelings. I can say that there are some things annoying about him, but am I being to hard? I also am fearfull of being with someone who will hold me back in life, and just want to have kids and call it good, but I don't want to be a hermit for the rest of my life either.
thanks for any help. . . . if there is help possible for me! :o)
I know that you consciously think that you are afraid to commit because you haven't found a man who corresponds to your wish list.
I got news for you. No man or woman can ever be as perfect as our wish lists. What's more, your unconscious mind is snowing you into believing that you are avoiding commitment because you haven't found a guy who matches your list.
In reality, your mind is using this list as an excuse to keep you single: since no man will ever perfectly match your list, you will always have an excuse to stay uncommitted. What we need to do is forget the list and find out why you are so afraid of commitment.
You gave me a big clue as to why you are afraid. You said you've been on your own since you were fourteen. I can only guess at what caused you to go on your own. Whatever were your reasons, they must have had something to do with your being deeply discontent with the way you were being treated at home.
If you were mistreated or abused by your parents, it is no surprise that you would be afraid to get close to someone else. If you can't trust your parents, how can you trust someone who isn't even a blood relative! Having been hurt and striking out on your own, has taught you to push away the dependent, weak, vulnerable side of yourself.
I can understand why you would have wanted to turn off that side of yourself. Trusting others, I mean your parents, got you hurt big time. If you were to allow yourself to commit to someone else, you would have to reopen the vulnerable, dependent side of yourself. I am sure that you are less than eager to do this.
The only hope for you is to establish a really solid therapeutic relationship. This is a dry run for real life, and a chance for you to learn to be vulnerable and dependent in a controlled way.
Believe it or not, lying on the analytic couch would actually help you do this healing. You see, when you lie down, your mind is more able to allow you to feel small, and dependent on the analyst who sits behind you, symbolically holding you like a child. If you can allow yourself to experience this type of dependency, in this controlled setting, you can, little by little, work through the hurts of the past and learn to trust someone for the first time.
This is a hard problem to heal. It takes guts and patience, and the help a therapist who you can truly connect with. Remember, theories and interpretations about why you ended up in this bind aren't going to heal you. You need a real-life, hands on relationship in which you can actually experience and talk about all the fears that come up when you actually allow yourself to get close to another person.
The best person to do this with is a well-trained modern psychoanalyst. If you want, I'll help you find someone in your area.
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