People who have a fear of commitment often had these 10 childhood experiences

Marriage. Contracts. Kids…

Did you just wince thinking about these things?

Well, you’re probably a commitment-phobe like me.

While some find it so easy to say “yes” to any kind of commitment, others like myself find it extremely difficult—impossible even.

And it’s all linked to the horrors we experienced in childhood.

Wondering why some people just can’t commit?

They probably had these 10 childhood experiences.

1) Abandonment

Abandonment issues often result in commitment issues.

Even something as “minor” as not being picked up at school would have an impact on a child’s psyche.

An adult who experienced any form of abandonment as a child—especially by a loved one like a parent or trusted caretaker—likely has some fear of commitment.

It’s easy to see why.

Those experiences have probably taught them early on that most people are inconsistent and unreliable.

And, no matter what others may tell them, there’s always that possibility that they will get abandoned.

To protect themselves from disappointments, they might have told themselves that the only person they can truly rely on is themself.

2) Betrayal

Whether they experienced it directly or they’ve witnessed it happen to others, any kind of betrayal will have a big impact on a child.

And if they experienced it often?

You can be sure it will be hard on them to trust people later in life.

Betrayal can be very traumatic!

It has other damaging effects on a child aside from fear of commitment.

Do you also notice that they find it hard to manage their emotions? 

Do they have attachment issues? Are they generally anxious? 

Then their childhood experiences of betrayal must have cut very deep. It will take a lot of time in therapy for them to stop fearing commitment again.

3) Being lied to over and over again

And I’m not just talking about “Santa is real” or “There’s a ghost in the basement.” 

These are just cute lies that every kid would just find fun.

I’m talking about the ones that directly impact a child’s perception of the adults—the ones that make them question their integrity and morality.

If, once upon a time, their father told them that they’re going to the supermarket but then they found out that they actually went to a bar…

And then their mother told them they have no money to pay for their school trip but then they found wads of cash in her bag…

They’d, of course, start losing trust in people.

Things like this may seem “no biggie” to grown ups. But for a child, it’s a very big deal. 

It can transform how they see the world, how they see people, and how they see relationships.

4) Being made fun of for being “gullible”

When we’re kids, we’re too trusting of others. That’s because we still haven’t experienced trauma.

When someone tells us something, we believe them without hesitation.

Perhaps some people bullied them. They’re made fun of for being too naive and gullible. 

Those people probably played pranks on them because they enjoyed seeing how “stupid” they are for believing everything others tell them.

Well, if you experienced this as a child, of course you’d try your best to be “smart” and “tough” so others won’t think you’re stupid.

Unconsciously, you start to lose trust in others—even the ones with good intentions.

You’re scared that they too would just laugh in your face and say “Well, you really believed that?!”

And this could definitely lead to one developing a fear of commitment.

If they’re in a loving relationship, for example, they can’t help but think “what if my partner’s just pretending to love me all along?”

“What if one day they too will say “And you really believed that?!”

5) Seeing healthy relationships turn toxic

It could be their parents’ or their uncle’s…or even the celebs they idolize.

Just knowing that nothing lasts forever—that people will eventually lose feelings for each other and hate each other and move on—is enough to crush a sensitive soul and make them fearful of any kind of commitment.

After all, how can something so good just end?

If this happened to them early in life and to someone they hold very dearly, the more impact it will have on their ability to commit.

6) Learning about cheating

signs that your childhood wasnt as happy as your parents made out People who have a fear of commitment often had these 10 childhood experiences

I have a friend who witnessed her mother cheat on her father.

She saw how her mother kissed the other man… and how her mother lied to her father as if everything’s normal. For years!

Her parents didn’t break up but that incident left her with a permanent scar.

Now, as an adult, she is always suspicious of everyone!

When she meets someone, even if they’re the nicest and most trustworthy person around, she can’t help but think “Hmmm, what is this person hiding?” or “Sure, they’re nice now but…they’ll change pretty soon.”

And even if she’s now in a loving relationship, she doesn’t want to commit fully. 

She’s scared of marriage and it’s as if she’s always ready to flee.

She believes that that episode in her childhood played a big role in how she has a big fear of commitment. And her therapist agrees.

7) Witnessing parents go through divorce

Children of divorce suffer from trust issues and fear of commitment, among other things.

Most divorces don’t happen in a snap of a finger.

You see your parents fight (a lot!).

You see them try their damndest to make things better.

You see them hate each other, betray each other, and destroy the family day by day.

And then you see how divorce affects both of them in all aspects—financially, emotionally, physically, socially.

And then they date other people. Then break-up with these “other people”. Then date again…and so on.

It’s not easy to witness this as a child.

And while most children find relief when their toxic parents finally separate, this experience will make them fearful of commitment.

8) Unfulfilled promises

My parents used to give a lot of promises they can’t keep.

They said things like “We will go to Disneyland for your 10th birthday!”, but then when my birthday arrived, nada.

They also told me “Yes, we’ll buy you shoes. Just wait.”, 

“We will give you a reward if you get good grades”, 

“We will buy you a guitar.”

Nada, nada, nada.

And this has made me numb to people’s promises.

I developed a fear of commitment because I worry that most people are like my parents—that they’d just keep dangling a carrot on a stick to win my affection.

We have to be careful about the things we tell our kids. If it’s not sure that we can make things happen, it’s better to just shut up—especially on the things that are very special to them.

9) Any kind of assault

Luckily, I never experienced any kind of assault growing up.

But for many others, this is the one that has made them fearful of commitment.

Perhaps they trusted someone in the same way they trusted their parents…but then they physically abused them.

Perhaps they let someone in their house, but then they turned out to be a thief.

Perhaps they helped someone in need only for them to hurt them.

These experiences can change the way we think—especially if we experienced them as a child. It can make us think that people are generally bad…even dangerous.

And when one thinks this way, it follows that they’ll have a fear of commitment.

10) Death of a loved one

When we’re young, we rarely think about death.

Those thoughts might cross our minds but we never think they’ll happen—at least not anytime soon. It’s always something that could happen in the very distant future.

And so when it actually happens to us when we’re younger—whether it’s the death of a pet or a loved one— we start to think that there’s no order in the universe.

That life is unfair.

That the world is a cruel and sad place.

That no one is ever really safe.

If a child has experienced the death of a loved one early on—and in a very tragic and abrupt manner— they might turn into adults who have anxiety and  fear of commitment.

They’d rather not get too attached to someone because they, too, might just leave one day.

And the pain of that is just so hard to bear.

They don’t want to be too hurt again when something ends. 

Final thoughts

It’s important to note that people who have a hard time committing aren’t just assh*les who can’t make up their minds.

They probably really love you.

They probably really want the job.

They probably really want to stay in your life forever.

It’s just that they’ve experienced too many traumatic incidents during childhood that has made them fearful of giving something (or someone) all they’ve got.

Do help them heal by going to a therapist.

But while waiting, be gentle with them and keep showing them that there’s really nothing to be scared of. 

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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