What Do I Do if My Partner’s Afraid of Commitment?

Young couple.
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Commitment doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and you may find yourself in a situation where you’d like to have this kind of serious relationship with your partner, but he or she’s too afraid to do so. In fact, there are many different reasons why your partner may fear fully devoting him or herself to you, and once you understand and openly discuss these motivations, you’ll be able to recognize if having a committed relationship with this person is a possibility.

Why is my partner afraid of commitment? If your partner is apprehensive about devoting him or herself to you, there are many causes and explanations behind this type of behavior.

1. Your partner may have been hurt in the past. One common reason behind your partner’s fear of commitment is that he or she may have been hurt in a past relationship. In other words, by keeping your relationship with each other casual, he or she won’t be vulnerable to heartache yet again.

2. Your partner wants to play the field. It’s also a possibility that your partner doesn’t want to be tied down, and a commitment to you would prevent him or her from being able to have relationships or sexual experiences with other people. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that a fear of commitment has become a type of euphemism for someone who simply wants to keep his or her options open.

3. Your partner is just getting out of a serious relationship. Another motive behind your partner’s fear of commitment may also be tied to his or her ex.

In fact, your partner may not be fully ready to jump back into this type of serious commitment at this point and may be apprehensive about making such a significant relationship decision regarding a new significant other.

4. Your partner is afraid to let you down. It’s also interesting to note that your partner’s fear of commitment may stem from his or her fear of disappointing you.

In other words, your partner may be so afraid of failing at commitment, cheating on you and/or not living up to your expectations that he or she doesn’t make the leap to fully devote him or herself to you.  

5. Your partner isn’t sure about his or her feelings toward you. An additional explanation for your partner’s fear may be due to the fact that he or she isn’t totally sure about his or her feelings for you. Specifically, this apprehension may come from not being confident that you’re the right person, and your partner’s fear of missing out on someone else may cause him or her to have a fear of commitment.

What can I do if my partner’s afraid of commitment? If you’re interested in taking your connection with your partner to a new level but he or she's simply afraid to commit to you, there are different steps that you can take right now to help you deal with these issues.

1. Have a discussion about why he or she fears commitment. To fully understand why your partner is apprehensive about fully committing to you, it’s important that the two of you have an honest conversation about why this is the case. After all, being completely open and forthright with each other is a cornerstone of a serious and long-lasting relationship, and if you’re seeking to have this kind of deep connection, it’s imperative that you both discuss the basis for this fear.

2. Look out for red flags. Once you’re able to have this meaningful conversation, you’ll be better able to recognize if your partner actually wants to work toward conquering this fear or is simply using it as a crutch or excuse. For instance, if your partner is giving you no indication that he or she wants to commit to you and beat this reluctance, then you should take him or her at his or her word—or lack thereof. On the other hand, if your partner is seeking your support and/or the support of friends, family or a therapist to deal with these apprehensions, this is an excellent indicator that he or she’s serious about working toward having a serious relationship with you.

3. Decide what’s right for you. It’s also imperative that you consider your own feelings, wants and needs when dealing with a partner who’s afraid of commitment.

For instance, if he or she’s interested in having an open relationship with you but you’re not comfortable with this arrangement, you should be true to yourself and find someone new. In a word, if your partner’s fear means that he or she’s not going to work toward having the committed relationship that you’re looking for, then you should commit to moving on.