Do you suffer from commitment issues?
- Are you someone who finds it simple to date and be at the very early stages of relationships, but who struggles to find a way to commit longer term?
- Do you find yourself starting to get interested in people but then being unable to sustain your interest?
Some people are, as it were, serial-daters. They start things, but they cannot stick with them. This is a problem when it comes to developing long-term relationships. Maybe you are one of them? Maybe it is time to find a way of changing this pattern?
When commitment breaks down
It is one thing to start dating people, but how do you go on to develop lasting relationships and so build a satisfying future for yourself?
If you don’t find a way of taking this commitment problem on, then your relationships will probably all go the same way. You will leave a string of what could have-beens behind. And you will probably hurt and damage a lot of people along the way.
So, what’s it to be? Do you want to repeat the same mistakes? Or do you want to try to find a way into something new?
Often the reason you hear given for why someone left a relationship is down to something they say they rejected in the other person, in their partner. But, over a period of years this pattern of rejection, of nobody being quite right, might make you ask some questions about what you are hearing.
Is the problem really all about the other people? Could it be something to do with you?
Do you have problems with commitment?
Where do commitment issues stem from?
To explore a question like this it is helpful to understand more about your history, the history of the way you commit to people and things. The facts of your early history and the way people committed to you when you were young.
- What has your experience of relationships been like?
- What kind of home did you grow up in?
- How were you loved?
- How were you disciplined?
Often your commitment problems will relate back to your early experiences.
Many of us have grown up in homes in which relationships were difficult and complicated and we were left to get on with things by ourselves.
We may have been brought up by parents who did not really know how to relate to themselves very well, and that then may have become the template for how they related to us.
Consequently, you may not have felt like they were committing to you. In place of commitment you may have grown up with a sense of being rejected.
It is time to change and repair these early injuries and so create better opportunities for ourselves and other people now.
Commonly in life we end up living a version of these early experiences without being very conscious of it.
This is why psychotherapy helps. Because in psychotherapy you start to see how you commit to the process of the therapy. The therapy is a miniature version of how you commit to other things.
You need to find a way of identifying these commitment issues and find a way to change the pattern. This is part of what Irving Yalom has his character Fredrick Nietzsche comment on in his novel When Nietzsche Wept : unless you find a way to stop repeating the way you live, with all of the things that are wrong with it, you are destined to repeat it again and again.
Do you want to continue to live with all of these commitment issues?
The home you were born into may have had these limitations, but you might not have to live like that now. Now you have a choice.
With the right care and support, by developing insight into the way you live, you can find a way to repair the injuries you suffered in your early years and start having satisfying and fully committed relationships.
You just have to find a way of committing to changing the pattern.
It is time to commit to yourself
When there are problems committing to other people and to joint relationships it is often the case that there are problems committing to part of oneself.
To change things you have to start by repairing the way you relate to yourself. This is something Jordan Peterson describes in 12 Rules For Life, chapter two; Treat Yourself Like Someone You Were Responsible For Helping.
If your need for care, affection and commitment was overlooked by your family when you were small, you are likely to overlook your own needs and feelings now. But you can change this.
You need to find a better way of looking after yourself
- When we are caught up in a crisis of commitment it is often the case that we are really experiencing something of the way in which our parents’ families and early lives failed to commit to us.
- We are unconsciously forcing ourselves to live out, repeat and do to others, the very thing we did not like others doing to us.
You can start to repair this now. You can stop trying to build your life on the failed experiences of your past.
You need to find a way of putting an arm around yourself, a way of being patient with yourself now. One way we can improve our relationship with ourselves is by being kinder to ourselves now.
Commit, don’t reject
Instead of impatiently rejecting part of yourself, which can easily then become part of you rejecting your partner, try to put a metaphorical arm around yourself – around the parts of yourself that you end up rejecting.
Learn to spot your anxious tells
There are usually certain ‘tells’ that indicate we are developing a critical and rejecting attitude.
You might find you start to use more critical and contemptuous language when you think about the person. This is often a sign that the rejection has started.
You might notice that your body language has changed, that you are tense. That your muscles are tight and you are starting to complain about back ache and headaches. Again this is often a sign that the process of rejection has started. These ways of thinking and being indicate anxiety, they indicate that you need some care.
Question: Can you respond to your anxiety not by becoming angry with yourself, not by rejecting, but by becoming more compassionate and caring to yourself?
Answer: Yes, you can. It might take some work and commitment, but you can do it.
You can learn to spot these signs and use them as routes into a more accepting attitude to yourself. As you start to do this you will avoid the predictable and unhelpful outcome of rejecting yourself. And, you will create new and more satisfying ways of connecting and committing to others.
I have twenty years experience of helping people find ways to engage with these issues. Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my work might help you.