Without realizing it, many relationship problems in couples stem from commitment issues that plague one or both of the partners. Commitment issues affect South Asians just as they affect couples from any other culture. They can be present in a relationship that is only a few weeks old or can affect a relationship that has been going on for decades. Understanding the common reasons for difficulties in committing to a partner can help improve the many conflicts that remain unresolved.
A very common reason for why people are afraid to commit is that they feel anxious about change. Often assumed that it is just a fear of losing independence, the true underlying reason is that getting married changes your life significantly and that can threaten a harmony that is already present in your life. This can come from worrying how your family will react to the new relationship to fears about having to change your daily routine.
While this may seem selfish to the outsider, making changes to your life, whether it be for college, moving to a new city or getting married, can be very anxiety-provoking. The anxiety is rooted in not knowing how your life will look after making a big change. For some, this anxiety can be so difficult to manage that they tend to avoid committing to a relationship, worried about losing the happiness and security that they already have attained.
Another common reason for being resistant to committing is a fear of intimacy, whether it be sexual, physical or emotional. Intimacy in all its forms is the core foundation of a committed relationship but it can be a scary thing for some individuals. Witnessing or experiencing abuse in your past can make you wary of becoming intimate with your partner as can witnessing an unhealthy relationship between your parents while growing up. Having your heart broken in a prior relationship, having a history of feeling rejected or experiencing emotional or physical betrayal someone close to you all lead to a wariness of being intimate with a partner.
Related to a fear of intimacy is having low self-esteem, which is another common cause of fear of commitment. There are countless reasons for why anyone can have low self-esteem including growing up with one or both parents with low self-confidence or who are overly critical, experiencing abuse or neglect, being bullied or having perfectionistic tendencies, among others. With low self-esteem, it is common to assume that your partner will see all of the flaws that you see in yourself and judge you as harshly as you judge yourself. This creates a need to protect yourself from your partner even before they have had a chance to hurt you. People with low self-esteem commonly exhibit signs of commitment issues.
South Asians who are raised to be family-centered can feel pressure from parents on who to commit to. If parents are unsupportive of the person you are dating or disapprove of the person you have married, you may feel torn as to where your loyalties lie. Feeling guilty about hurting your parents feelings or disappointing them with your decisions may make you feel resistant to committing to your partner fully.
Finally, having trust issues can significantly impair a person’s ability to commit completely to a relationship. Just like with the other causes of commitment issues, difficulties trusting a partner often come from unrelated experiences in the past, including watching your parents have an unhealthy marriage, growing up with unpredictable parents, having low self-esteem or being burned in the past by people close to you. Experiences such as these can teach people from a very young age that others cannot be trusted. This lesson is then applied in intimate relationships as well, whether the partner has proven to be untrustworthy or not.
Being hurt in the past or feeling poorly about yourself causes us to put our guard up to protect yourself from future pain. Unfortunately, this results in significant conflict in relationships where intimacy and commitment is required and expected.
Commitment issues can be overcome and the best way to move past them is to identify why committing is difficult. By pin pointing the reason that drives your fear of commitment, it will become easier to notice when you are taking out on your partner emotions that are meant for someone else in your life, whether it be a parent, a previous partner or a best friend. If you are having trouble knowing your specific causes of commitment issues, you may benefit from speaking to a counselor who is trained in identifying underlying causes of behaviors.
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