7 little things you can do if you’re seriously afraid of commitment

Let’s say the “no strings attached” lifestyle is the only option for you, and the thought of settling down and leaving your days of serial dating behind terrifies you and leaves you with an advanced case of FOMO. If you won’t say it, we will: You’re scared of commitment, and it’s totally understandable — but not impossible to overcome.

So, you passed (or failed, depending on how you look at it) the fear of relationship commitment test with flying colors, but despite what your reluctant mind tells you, when we commit to relationships, it’s less about losing options and risking rejection. In reality, it’s more about opening ourselves up to connect with another person on a deep level, which feels extremely scary (Are you shuddering because we can totally tell).

But anyone who’s ever fallen hard for someone will tell you that the payoffs can be tremendous.

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Now that we’ve established your reluctance to let your guard down, it’s time to get you out of your shell and on to less terrified turf. If you don’t want to be a commitment-phobe all your life, here are some *little* things you can do if you’re seriously freaked out by the thought of settling down.

1Practice being vulnerable.

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Often, vulnerability is viewed as a weakness, but willingly owning up to your flaws and insecurities doesn’t make you weak — it makes you human and more relatable to others. Take baby steps towards becoming more vulnerable by sharing something personal — maybe a tiny embarrassing fact about yourself, or one of your quirkiest habits — and sit with the discomfort of being so open and raw until it feels natural.

2Talk to someone who’s in a committed relationship.

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If you’re mostly surrounded by other commitment-phobes, it might help you to discuss your reluctance to settle down with someone who’s done just that.

Getting acquainted with someone who’s overcome the very fear you’re trying to conquer will help you to see that being in a committed relationship doesn’t have to be as stifling and nightmarish as you think.

3Take your time dating.

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If you’re afraid to commit, you should definitely consider taking a break from dating, at least until you’ve gotten a grip on your issues. Quite frankly, being afraid to settle down is some major baggage that shouldn’t be imposed on some unsuspecting new person you’re going out with.

If you know you’re not ready to be serious with someone, hold off on dating and spend that time working on yourself.

4Get real with yourself about your commitment phobia.

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What is it about the word “commitment” that immediately causes you to break out in hives? Try and sort out the cause — whether it’s being rejected, not feeling worthy or you’re afraid of being hurt — so that your fear can no longer hold you hostage.

5Give yourself time to heal from past relationship trauma.

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If your ex treated you horribly or you just went through a really difficult breakup, it’s perfectly normal to harbor some bad feelings for a while. But if you’re still not over your last relationship, give yourself time to heal so you can enter the next potential courtship with a clean slate, prepared to move forward without a debilitating fear that the past will come back to haunt you in the form of a new untrustworthy partner.

6Date like-minded people.

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Associating with people who share your values makes room for a genuine connection, which can allow trust to form in a natural, healthy way. Commitment will feel far less daunting when you’re with someone who fully accepts and appreciates you as your perfectly imperfect self.

7Be patient with yourself.

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Whatever is causing your fear of commitment didn’t develop overnight, so don’t expect your feelings to change quickly. Sift through the issues, go forth with an open mind and open heart. The mere fact that you’re willing to openly admit your fear of commitment is a huge step in the right direction.