Yes, I admit it. I’m afraid of commitment.

Written by Kristin Feenstra


Is Fear of Failure Holding You Back?

Truth hurts. When hanging out with one of my buddies a while ago, he tells me that he thinks I’m scared of commitment.  My first reaction was to defend myself against this allegation, I’m not scared of commitment, I’m just independent! But then I really got to thinking about his comment.

Here I am… I’m a single woman in my early twenties.  I’ve completed my college education which I paid for entirely myself. I work at a professional job in my field of study. I rent a townhouse with some roommates. Yes, society may classify me as successful, independent woman; but what is it that lies below that facade of independence?

And the more I think of it, the more I agree with my buddy, I have an intense fear of commitment! So, what is it that terrifies me about being committed to something or someone?

Related: Find the Acceptance that Matters Most.

Commitment puts my freedom in jeopardy. Last summer, I considered giving up my professional, secure job to spend my summer surfing on Oregon’s coast. Regardless of the money or benefits offered at my job at the time, I felt that I might be missing out on the adventure of a lifetime by being tied down to a full-time job. Unlike the generation before me, the idea of working at the same job for the next 30 years does not appeal to me at all.

My living arrangement choice is to rent a townhouse with some roommates. As much as I see the logic in paying into a mortgage sooner rather than later, I couldn’t imagine being tied down to the same place for the next 25 – 30 years. I’m unsure what my life holds for me and I want to be ready to move if the opportunity presents itself.

Commitment means I have to make a choice. Though I’m in my early twenties, I still haven’t had a serious boyfriend.  One of my friends is getting married in couple months.  Though I’m ecstatic over her happiness, part of me questions if she can truly know that she’s making the best choice. In contrast to my friend, I am all for casual dating. When asked to commit my time and attention to one man in particular, I start to panic. What scares me the most is that I might make the wrong choice and get hurt in the process! I’ve watched many of my friends commit themselves to a relationship only to struggle through betrayal and rejection later. In the future, I would love to be in a committed dating relationship, but until I met a man that I’m willing to risk my heart for, I will remain single.

Commitment means I can’t just think of myself. I used to volunteer with a kids club on Friday nights. There was no doubt that my leadership was positively influencing the lives of the kids, but after a couple months, I quit.  I quit because I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my Friday nights to spend time with the kids.  Instead, I chose to spend my Friday nights partying with my friends, which just seemed much more fun than playing Dodgeball with some Grade 7 kids.

Like millions of others in the world, I admire the devotion of Mother Teresa who sacrificed her life in the service of others. I always say that I want to do the same, but in reality, it’s tough to make the decision to give up some of the things or activities that are enjoyable to me.

Unveiling my secret desire for commitment. Despite my efforts to remain unattached and uncommitted to anything or anyone, I have to admit that deep in my soul, I have an intense longing for security and belonging – both of which cannot happen without commitment.

Though I don’t want to be tied down to a job or a house, I still want the security of knowing where my next pay cheque will come from or where I’ll live next month. And as much as I’m scared of committing myself to a dating relationship, I truly desire to be with someone who is 100% committed to our relationship. I think we’re all built with a desire for security.

So what’s the issue? When I think about my commitment fears, it boils down to one issue: truly loving and being loved by others because that means that I’m opening myself up to the possibly of being hurt.

I know that I can’t truly love someone else unless I am vulnerable – whether it’s loving a man or my friends, family or the kids I volunteered with.

When I love someone, I can no longer just think about myself. I need to be willing to put time and energy into our relationship and always live with the possibly that the person I love could destroy my trust.

Being committed demands remaining faithful to someone or something even when times get rough. Whether the person I love treats me poorly or I don’t see the results of my project. Commitment means I need to stick to it because I love and believe in it.

Looking for examples of commitment. I can’t honestly find many good example of commitment in our culture. Yes, I can think of a dozen names of famous people committed to the success of their career or personal dream. But often these ambitions are mixed with impure motives of greed, pride and envy. Do we really have examples of true selfless, altruistic people who lived a committed life?

The only person I can think of is Jesus Christ. Although he lived 2000 years ago, this man who only lived 30 years made a tremendous impact on the world even until now. Some say it’s not possible to live like Jesus Christ or follow his example. They’re right. It’s impossible to live and love like Jesus Christ. It’s impossible to copy what he did. But I do know it’s possible to have Jesus Christ as part of your life because I experience a personal relationship with him everyday.

Why have Jesus as part of my life? Jesus is slowly changing me and teaching me a better way to live, act, think, behave, feel and react. If I want to know how to love others, I look to Jesus – he knew how to love another person.  Jesus didn’t go into relationships thinking, “Oh, I better be careful, this person might hurt me.” Instead he chose to love all of humanity with a deep, passionate love that eventually lead to his death.

He is the ultimate example of commitment – he was committed to selflessly loving others including you and me. Jesus gave up his freedom and in a selfless act, came to earth to die for the wrong things and I have done. To me, that’s unbelievable that someone would be 100% committed to me even before I knew who He was. Despite my commitment phobia, I can rest assured that I am wholly and completely loved by God. And can than strive to follow his example of loving other people.

Kristin is graduate of British Columbia Institute of Technology, currently works in Human Resources and recently travelled to Ireland. Copyright 2005 May not be used without permission.

Related Reading:

Picture Perfect: Finding Acceptance that Lasts

Copyright 2005. May not be reprinted without permission.

72 Responses to “Yes, I admit it. I’m afraid of commitment.”

  • Paul says:

    Well i can tell you one thing for a Good man that was married twice and now Single again which i was a very Good husband that was very Committed, Loving, caring, and very Faithful to Both of my wives at that time which it still Wasn’t Good Enough for them since they eventually Cheated on me. My first wife was tired of being married and told me that she met someone else which i really knew the guy as well. My second wife was Bi Polar and her daughter had Autism which was a real Challenge for me which i did very well and was very Protective of her daughter since many times she was being Teased by the other children at the school that she was going too which i told her teaches about it. Now Single again for the second time and i am very Afraid to get married again especially after what just happened to me. But i have a steady girlfriend who i met Recently which i am very happy again since she was married at one time herself.

  • Alfred says:

    Hi Faye, this expressing of your feelings is rally great! The young man that’s interested in getting to know you better is also human, may have attitudes and habits that he is wanting to change, and possibly is carrying some bad baggage. As you both get to know each other and as you find what you have in common, you may gradually realize that you are helping each other to grow.
    It will be good to not have too many expectations that he needs to live up to. Just let him be himself, whether this is what you’d hoped he would be or not. You are best off not to try and change him, but to see how the two of you are able to complement one-another. Above all, be at ease (as much as possible) in talking about Spiritual matters, for a common Christian faith is of paramount importance! I have found that there’s a fine line between “putting your best foot forward” and “putting on a false front”. Now I like to “just be myself” with nothing to hide. Does that feel like it could help you a little?
    Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that Faye is looking to you for guidance, wisdom and courage. YOU alone are able to fill all her needs. As she trusts you more, help her to be at ease, knowing that with you she is in good hands. In Jesus name, Amen.

  • Aldo says:

    Faye, we can never be sure of how people are going to react to our commitment to them. What we can be sure of is the Lord’s commitment to us. If we have accepted and received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are under His Providential care. That does not mean that we will not be hurt in our relationships with others, but that whatever happens to us is happening for our good because we love the Lord, and He allows those things to happen for our growth and maturity.

    When we realize that, we will have the freedom and courage to leave ourselves open to being rejected knowing that God knows what is best for us, and if we allow Him to, He will bring it about.

    May the Lord grant you the wisdom, strength, and courage, to pursue the relationships which you believe He is desirous of you to have, Amen.

  • faye says:

    I thought i was the only one who’s got this fear of romantic commitment but then thanks to this post i felt clarified and bit relieved by what i’m feeling right now. I realized that i was just being very independent to others that i got used to handle things on my own. Altrough out i never had a guy who really say he loved me because all was just fling-fling ! I wanted to have serious relationships and this time around when someone knocks in, and i can sense hes serious about me, i suddenly felt anxious, worry and threatened. i dont know how to handle him. i was overthinking somethings like what if’s?
    Im just too scared to let someone go inside myself. Im afraid that if ever he would know my real thoughts, attitudes, habits background, etc. they would be disappointed. i worry that his feelings for me would pass so quickly. Also i dont want to be dissappointed. Since i had so many expectations and standards/likes that i wanted to exist in my future relationships, I’m afraid he or i will not be able to meet that standard. What to do???

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Hanna, I can see that you have really been putting a lot of thought and emotional energy into this issue. I really appreciate your desire to make your relationship with God the first priority in your life. How would you describe your relationship with Him currently? Have you had a hard time following through with commitment to that relationship as well? How would you describe what making God the first priority in your life looks like?

    You suggest that God led you to your boyfriend. How did He do that? Would your boyfriend agree with you on that?

    In what way are you afraid of being hurt by your boyfriend? Has there been anything that he had done/said that triggered that fear?

    Let me pray for you: Heavenly Father, I pray for Hanna and ask that You would help her understand what is going on in her heart. You know the hurt that she has gone through in the past and how that is impacting her openness to this young man. I ask that You would help her to secure her trust in You and then follow Your leading in her life. Help her and her boyfriend to be able to speak honestly about these things with each other to seek Your leading together. Amen.

  • Hanna Faith says:

    Hello, I am Hanna.
    I truly was seeking for some advice, and I thank God for showing me this, so even I can better understand myself. I have a boyfriend, we’ve been dating for almost 7 months now. Mind you, this is a distance relationship, and I actually have never met him yet. However, coming up he his coming to visit me for a week, so this is definitely a legitimate relationship. I wasn’t seeking a distance relationship, but I felt God truly led him to me so I followed what He said. My boyfriend and I are very strong Christians, actually by my example he has become even closer to God, which I am truly happy to have had that influence on him. Anyways, this isn’t about him necessarily, but about the fact that I think I have a hard time committing myself to anyone, or anything. I don’t think I ever personally admitted it because I didn’t clearly understand it myself.

    In the past I have had a lot of relationships.. Yes, I have gone through my fair share of mistakes which in turn has made me stronger, but also left me with scars that seem to hurt even if they have been healed. For the longest time I would talk to my boyfriend all the time, I loved it, never had a problem, but then suddenly I lost the interest of talking with him like I had previously. It was so instantaneous, really, I don’t know what happened. I lost the desire to talk with him on the phone, or hardly. I still love him with all my heart, but I just don’t like this feeling, or making him feel bad too. As I tried to explain why it happened, I seemed to have made it more and more complicated all the time. My feeling is that this contributes to the fact that it is a distant relationship and still haven’t met him, and also I believe this may be from something lacking in my relationship with God. After reading your article, I realized that I truly am having a hard time in committing myself to my relationship with this man. Before him I had like 2 actually pretty serious relationships, but I felt like I got cold feet and also other circumstances which made me lose interest in them. Possibly went about things the wrong way, and was just lacking the bond of Christ in our relationship. Now, I am doing everything right, but then this feeling deep in my gut returns, and I can’t explain why. So now, I feel that this has do with me committing myself to this relationship entirely, actually committing myself to God and giving Him first priority every single day.

    Throughout my life I have had many friends, but when we all started growing up we all went our separate ways. Due to my friends choosing to go down different paths that I, being as a Christian could not follow if I was to uphold my morals, have really secluded myself and have become very independent. I’m used to being by myself, doing my own thing, having time to do whatever I choose. However, coming right out of high school as of last year I’m realizing I really can’t do that anymore. I’m having a very hard time grasping this concept, of where I need to get things together and commit myself to what I want to do, in which God has given me. All my life I have had commitment issues. For various reasons such as when I was little I wanted to learn piano, and practiced, but when it got hard I think I just gave up. I have started MANY things, but have failed to finish them. I am very versatile to where I draw, sing, play piano, write music, write books, dance ect. SO considering all that I do I have a very hard time finishing things. I don’t know why I feel this way, I am trying to seek guidance, but it’s very difficult. Even to come to terms with admitting that I have this issue is pretty difficult. I still continuously do all the activities listed and more, but I start projects and don’t finish them, is what my issue is. When the going gets tough I have a hard time staying together. I’m even an anti- routine person because of not being committed. I thought maybe it was a good idea to seek for advice from those whom have or are in the same predictament as me. I am unsure of how to change this attitude and really putting myself up to challenges and committing myself fully to them.

    Do you think I give myself too much to be committed to? Am I afraid to let go of my personal time and let someone in? I guess one answer is to put God, honestly number 1, absolutely NUMBER 1. First priority and everything. For if I do not, nothing else will get better, because I need Him for everything in my life. Everything begins and ends with God.

    Thank you again for this wonderful article, it has helped me recognize the problem in which I am facing and could not decipher on my own.
    I’m still struggling, but I will NOT give up the fight.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Carriann, Jesus said that He came to bring us true life in all of its fullness and it is truth that we find real freedom (John 10:10, 8:32). His recommendation for us to experience that full life of freedom from anxiety is by seeking after God and allowing His righteousness to fill us (Matthew 6:22-34). So when we are held captive by fear it is a symptom that we are not focused on following God but we are responding to life in our own wisdom. The remedy is not to say ourselves “Stop being afraid!” but rather focus our attention on God. Spend time reminding yourself about His care and provision. Study what He has to say about relationships in the Bible. Ask Him for peace and guidance on how you should proceed in this growing friendship. Talk to other believers (like you are doing now) and ask for their prayer and direction for building your trust in God.

    We have to be honest, no matter how wonderful this guy may be, he will hurt you at some point. If you are trying to avoid all hurt you will have to harden yourself against people. But that is not what God calls us to. Because our trust is in God’s leading in life we are able to face the risk of hurt because we trust Him to guide us through whatever our paths may cross. So build your trust in God, and let Him guide you about how to trust other people.

    But also remember, God has set down guidelines for human relationships. He is not going to lead you in a way that contradicts what He has said in the Bible. So study those passages. Pray for God to help you know how to apply those to your own life. Seek the counsel of other godly men and women who use the Bible as the foundation for their advice. If you are committed to seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness in your life He will guide you into the best path.

    Let me pray for you: Jesus, I pray for Your daughter Carriann. Thank You for calling her to be Your child. Thank You for paying the penalty for her sin. Thank You for being raised to Life and leading her to follow Your paths. You know the hurt that she has been through and I ask that You would bring comfort to her. Heal those memories and help her to see how You have used those experiences to shape her for Your service. Free her from the fear of being hurt and build her trust in Your care and protection, Your leading and provision. Give her wisdom to know what is Your path for her and give her the courage to be obedient no matter what the cost. Bring more people into her life who can help her to know Your voice more clearly and follow You more passionately. And may she have the joy of seeing You work in her and through her to shine Your Light to our world. In Your precious Name, Amen.

    Cariann, let me encourage you to go have a look at this study series It is a call to a radical commitment to following Jesus; the very same commitment that He calls us to. Through this study you will be pointed toward knowing Jesus better and challenged to follow Him no matter what. There are other going through that same study and you can encourage one another and spur each other on. You can also connect with a mentor who will walk through the study with you and pray with you. I would love to hear what you think of it.

  • carriann95 says:

    God led me to this site and I am not a student. I hope that’s OK. I, too am afraid of commitment. (I got saved in 1995). I guess it’s because I have been hurt. I have a close christian male friend and we are attracted to each other. I was thrilled talking to him about God! And he initiated prayer and held my hands. I explained my hurt past and he said it will take you a long time to trust in a man. We are friends at this point, but since he is a gentlemen and compliments me a lot, I liked that a lot and I get butterflies, nervous with him, but at ease at the same time. He said He gets nervous around me because I am a very pretty woman. Shocked the socks off me! 2 days later I started to get scared wanting to run, avoid him as I did in my previous relationship. Tonight I called out to God and cried, realizing I am still in the grieving process of my past relationship and that is why I grieve and sometimes I want to get close to this man but sometimes not. I am scared. Thanks for letting me share.

  • Alfred says:

    Dear Kyra, I am sorry that previous relationships have hurt you. However, the most important relationship of all is that with Jesus; so being committed to Him is the very best thing that you can do! Since each person is unique, it is not important to be like your siblings. In God`s eyes you are special!
    Dear God our Father, I thank you that Kyra is open to continue building a relationship with you. YOU have a plan for her life. May she be content with that, knowing that you are guiding her, and that whatever happens, she is in Good Hands! Fill her heart with joy, peace, hope and love. I pray in the name of Jesus, our intercessor. Amen.

  • Kyra says:

    Yes, I know I’m only 14, but I’m afraid if commitment myself. I struggle with getting close to people–due to old friendships. I have never dated anyone because of it. My twin has no problem with commitment, and my younger and older siblings for either. They just don’t understand. It’s hard for me to commit, and people just don’t understand why. I have drifted away from friends because of it. I love how you incorporated the Bible into this article. I love how you aren’t afraid to do that. Really right now the only one I can commit to is Jesus.

  • Sharon says:

    good article thank you for posting it

  • Mr. Guest says:

    i have a friend whose been close to me in less than a year. he is currently looking for a better opportunity outside our organization and has pending application from other company. whenever he would inform me of the latest status of his application, it pains me but I don’t want him to know that because I know it is for his growth however I really got affected and lonely of the thoughts that in a few months from now I am now on my own. I inspired to work with him everyday, he’s the one im thinking first thing in the really pains me to see him go away..if only I could do something to have him with me always..i hate to admit it to myself but I think he is becoming special to me..but that this is unusual. I just wanted him to know, that I care..and im here for him..

  • Doris Beck D. Beck says:

    So glad to hear that you are assured of where you will spend eternity Terry! You are so right…..with that assurance you know where you are going to be after you die so there is no fear! Awesome!

  • i’m not afraid to die,because i’m going to live with our LORD~!:)

  • M. Jantzen says:

    Hi Max,

    I would encourage you to keep on seeking God as you’re doing. Who we marry is such a profound and life altering choice. You might want to read this article/video. It has some advice on What God says should be our top priority in choosing who we will marry. Take care.

  • Max says:

    Ok so first off I must say that I really like this because I am afraid of commitment and I want to get over this because I have a beautiful girl who wants to be with me but I am scared to take that step.

    So we have known each other since we were little kids. Our families know each other they like me my family likes her, but we never spoke to each other until our senior year in high school. Found out that we like each other! So we dated. I eventually moved away for college and she stayed home. The long distance thing got to us and so we broke up we dated for 10 months. Two years have passed by and since then I have only dated one other girl only because I thought I moved on. So me and this new girl break up (only dated for two months nothing serious). With my old girlfriend I sent her a long message about how sorry I was in the past, and for the breakup. Finds out that after two years without saying nothing to each other we still like each other!

    So check this out we now go to the same school. I am in the process of pursuing her. But the only thing that is holding me back is being committed to her again. We claim to be just friends but she tells me that she doesn’t want to be friends forever. I also have everything going good for me. I am almost done with school, I have an amazing personal relationship with Christ, I pay for all my bills, I am putting myself through school no help from anybody. I also have really good friends too who are also a positive influence on me, iron sharpens iron.

    I just have this girl who I know for almost all my life that wants to be with me. The opportunity is here. Am I just not ready to date? I need to become more mature? She knows me better than any girl on this world. I just don’t want to break her heart again. And plus I am constantly busy with school and work and I am a small group leader also I take turns teaching Sunday school. I don’t know what I should do. But I know she just likes me for who I am and she wants to be with me.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Cheryl, have you been able to connect with a mentor? How is it going? You can know that you have been on my mind and in my prayers. In fact, let me pray for you now:

    Lord God, I thank You for bringing Cheryl to this place and giving her the courage to ask for help and choose to follow Jesus. Help her to trust that You indeed are helping her through all the difficult circumstances of her life right now and to look to You for leading. Thank You that You have a plan for her life and that You are showing her how to follow that plan. Guide her to relationships that would help her to know You better and be able to trust You more. Amen.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    That’s great Cheryl! Can I suggest that you connect with one of our Mentors? It would be a great way to get some help as you start off. Our mentors are not professional counselors or anything, just normal people who are followers of Jesus and love to help other people get to know Him better. There’s no cost or strings attached and your conversation will be a lot more private. Just fill out the mentor request form at and one of our mentors will get in touch with you by email.

    Let me pray for you: Lord God, I thank You for Your love and that You want us to know You. I pray for Cheryl as she begins exploring relationship with You. You know the uncertainties that she has and the fears that she has. I ask that You help her to recognize your presence and that she would hear You speak to her. Amen.

    Cheryl, there is an article that will help you understand what following Jesus is all about Have a look at it and let me know what you think.

  • Cheryl says:

    Okay.. I am ready. I mean I’ll try that. I don’t know what i’m doing because if it were that easy. I am not going to lie, talking to god feels an awful lot like talking to yourself but I will give this a shot!

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Cheryl I have found that when some people have tried the “God thing” they were following a religion rather than what God wants–which is a relationship with Him. There is a huge difference between following a religion and being in a relationship. Pursuing a religion means focusing on doing things like attending church, reading the Bible, praying, helping the poor, etc. All of those are good things and someone who is in a relationship with Jesus does all those things as well. But pursuing a relationship has a different central focus: knowing God. So when a relationship-focused person reads their Bible and prays their goal is to have a conversation with Jesus; to hear Him speak through the words of the Bible, to tell Him about the things that are happening in life and asking for His help to respond to life’s circumstances the way that He wants.

    A lot of people get the religion and the relationship thing confused and think if they do all the right rituals and good deeds that then God will come through with His blessing. But in relationship there is an awareness that Jesus is with you all the time and He is revealing Himself and His plan to you. So when you focus your attention on knowing Him and His plan you are then guided by Him through all aspects of life.

    Your calling is not to church. Jesus is calling you to know Him, the one who created everything that is; the one who has no limits and no boundaries to His love, power and wisdom; the one who loves you and all of humankind so much that He accepted the penalty of our rebellion against Him and died in our place so that we could have a relationship with Him; the one who looks on you with His infinite attention waiting for you to respond for His offer of that relationship. That is what He is calling you to.

    Now let me be clear: just because you are in a relationship with Jesus does not mean that your life will no longer have any problems or pain. We still live in a world of people who rebel against God and hurt other people in the process. We still make those same mistakes ourselves that create our own problems and hurt other people. But what Jesus does promise is that as we learn to look to His leading and guiding in every circumstance we will more and more make His choices our own and find that His help in responding to the problems of life is always best.

    I don’t know if all that makes sense. Sometimes I don’t communicate well the things that are in my heart. But don’t let my ill-chosen words or the imperfections of other followers of Jesus that you may have met in your life get in the way of you having a relationship with the perfect Jesus. His love will change your life in ways that you could never imagine. The Bible says, “What this means is that those who become followers of Jesus become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2Corinthians 5:17) Are you ready for a new life?

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