Hello everybody, welcome to episode 67 of Optimal Living Advice. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Glad to have you hear for another episode. We’re answering a question today that was sent in about fear of commitment. It’s a really good question, and I think that commitment is definitely more of an overarching cause of problems than it’s given credit for – definitely seeps into more issues than we realize. So let’s have a look and see what we can do to help this listener…
QUESTION: “It’s occurred to me that maybe I am one of those people that’s afraid of commitment after all. I think a lot a lot about things that are worth committing to, but it’s hard for me to actually commit. What can I do to get more comfortable with this? I worry that if I do not master this skill soon, I will miss out of a lot of great things in life because I was too busy thinking about them. I think I’ve already missed out on some of them.”
All righty. Sounds like you’ve caught the FOMO a little bit – fear of missing out. That’s ok. I’ve definitely been there myself and there is certainly hope for you. Thank you for sending this question in, we appreciate it and are happy to have a look and do what we can.
Detach Yourself from Stereotypes
The way you opened this question interests me, this idea of being “one of those people that has a fear of commitment.”
I understand why you have this idea about yourself. It’s a popular stereotype to refer back to. Everyone’s familiar with the guy in the romantic comedy that never finds love because he’s always jumping from woman to woman and likes he’s freedom and ultimately we find him to be tragic because he's afraid of commitment. It’s terminology we all know, and because it’s repeated so much, it’s easy to fall into thinking it’s more serious than it actually is.
The truth of the matter is that, just like the guy in the romantic comedy who inevitably falls in love with Sarah Jessica Parker, everyone who is seemingly afraid of commitment really only struggles when it comes to committing to certain things and/or for certain periods of time. This is hardly a permanent label; it’s instead just a phase and it’s fleeting.
The concept of stereotypes can be massively influential on an individual or wider cultural scale. They can influence the type of information that you seek or the social behavior you subscribe to.
So it’s both dangerous and uninformed when anyone attaches themselves to this stereotype that, like most stereotypes, aren’t even real. You need to detach yourself from this false image and false negative commentary, because not only is it lowering your self-esteem, but it’s giving you more and more of an excuse to not commit to things in the future, as you’re convincing yourself that it’s in your DNA not to commit.
That’s the first step.
Take Small Steps Toward Commitment
You also need to be understanding of the fact that not everyone who doesn’t easily commit to things have no control in the situation. For some people, shying away from commitment is a conscious choice that they make and build happy lives around for as long as that choice is serving them.
It doesn’t sound like this is the case with you, but remembering that will only help you become more patient with the idea of not committing.
For you, this seems to be a perfectly normal phase that can be broken by acceptance and some personal challenges. You’re already on the right track in that you’re questioning this. And IN questioning this, you’re proving to yourself that you care about finding meaning in things and making good choices – a habit that will only lead you down a good path.
As for those personal challenges, I think there are two things that would really serve you right now and help you commit to things more gracefully. Let’s treat commitment like a muscle that you need to warm up with small weights before it can actively push large weights. So let’s take an outside-in approach and start making tiny commitments that affect you far less than some of the bigger ones you’re wrestlin’ with. Make mini commitments by trimming the fat in your life.
Commitment and Minimizing
Maybe this means unfollowing or unfriending social media accounts that bring you more pain than pleasure. Maybe it means donating a lot of old clothes. Maybe it means throwing a lot of stuff out in your garage.
What we don’t realize is that commitment is a form of minimizing – and making a statement to yourself that you don’t need all of the things that you’ve kept around “just in case.”
Committing means saying goodbye to a lot of those things. The more you declutter mentally and physically, the easier it is to recognize the value that comes from the commitment you have to things that you chose not to remove. So in all these small fat trimmings that I mentioned, and God knows there are more of them, you’re warming yourself up to the idea that you have enough power to make it on your own without the possibility that these things may offer in some scenario that’s unlikely to occur.
You’re getting into the rhythm of drawing boundaries for yourself and making strong choices which inevitably come with sacrifices. Over time, this gets easier and easier as you start to see that you’re just fine without all of these things after all.
Limit Your Distractions
And equally important to removing these distractions that you already have is limiting your exposure to NEW incoming distractions.
A massive reason as to why more and more people are sharing this concern is because we’re all exposed to more and more options. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but the paradox of choice is that we we’re exposed to more dating prospects, more jobs, more places to visit, more everything, it’s harder to commit to the lanes that we’re already in.
So while ridding yourself of your current distractions helps you build a good habit, minimizing your exposure to new distractions creates an environment in which it’s easier for that habit to thrive.
Can’t stick to one romantic partner? Try getting off the dating apps for a while. Can’t decide where to live? Stop traveling so much. Can’t decide what job to stay in? Stop looking at job openings.
I’m absolutely not saying that being aware of possibilities is a good thing – that’s a luxury that comes with the time we’re living in. But it’s plain to see that we’re being overstimulated with options and that we need to figure out where a healthy line is for ourselves.
Fear of Commitment and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
Finally, the last thing I want to address is your ending concern about that which you feel you will miss out on or have already missed out on. These feelings of anxiety or lowered self-esteem are not unusual, especially if it's related to fear of commitment associated with something like chronic career indecision.
Look, we’re always missing out on things, and this FOMO is often amplified with heavy social media usage. If you're not careful, it has great potential to decrease your self-esteem.
For each decision we make and path we go down are countless decisions we haven’t made and paths we haven’t gone down. To make the best overall decision and the best overall commitment would basically be to defy statistics. It’s nearly impossible. Some of the outcomes you thought would be great that you’ve missed could’ve led you down a dark road to a premature death.
And some things you’ve dodged because they were clearly not in your best interest might have brought you to an amazing place in life. You can’t know. Stop trying to know.
This is one of my biggest hurdles too, if it makes you feel any better. It’s a noble cause, but it’s not realistic. You can only weigh your options so much before weighing options is the choice you’re unknowingly committing to.
Don’t be afraid to let go after whatever amount of measuring and act without certainty.
And that brings us to the end, my friends. Thank you so much to the woman who sent this question in. Like I said in the intro, definitely a foundation of a lot of problems we all go through that we wouldn’t expect. So I hope this episode helped everyone who listened and that you all now recognize ways in which you can practice commitment on a daily basis.
If you have a question of your own that you’re struggling with and you’d like our help here on the show, please submit your question via email to us at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
Hope you all have a wonderful day, my friends. Can’t wait to talk to you next time. Until then.
1. Buglass, Sarah L., et al. “Motivators of online vulnerability: The impact of social network site use and FOMO.” Computers in Human Behavior 66 (2017): 248-255.
2. Serling, Deborah A., and Nancy E. Betz. “Development and evaluation of a measure of fear of commitment.” Journal of Counseling Psychology 37.1 (1990): 91.
3. Macrae, C. N., Stangor, C., & Hewstone, M. (Eds.). (1996). Stereotypes and stereotyping. Guilford Press.