Relationship failures - commitment phobia

Relationship failures low self esteem and commitment phobia.   So how are they linked?


The above issues can often be rooted in the fear of intimacy because we have a fear of abandonment, betrayal, or rejection.  We may feel like this because we were wounded in early childhood (but it can be later in life) - we experienced feeling emotionally abandoned, rejected, and betrayed at some point or just not good enough. By being made to feel inadequate, we may eventually perceive this to be true. Lets look at the family dynamic that causes attachment and intimacy issues.


As a child we are not able to understand what is happening. A child's brain is not able to understands abstract concepts until about the age of 7 (the age of reason.)  Children are ego-centric and do not have the capacity to understand that our Higher Powers  (parents, church, etc.) were not perfect.  We grow to model their behaviors in part, and experience their behavior as personal. We may also strive to gain their approval by various means but this often fails as we are living for them and approval and not ourselves, therefore we are often unhappy.


When we are children we cannot imagine ourselves separate from our families. We cannot see our individual worth, as it is all tied up in theirs. Therefore the only reality we know is the one we grow up in. When we are caused pain in our families we assume it is because we have got it wrong… and this feeling can be taken into adulthood without us knowing. We then find it hard to establish intimacy (I do not mean sex) intimacy in opening up to another fully. We cannot do this, as we feel vulnerable.  It is hard to do because often we do not feel good enough and believe at some point we will be rejected or abandoned. If we do try, often we retreat back to a safe position.

Some people yearn for intimacy (to be loved) but learn to experience it only sexually. These people may have many short sexual relationships. I guess you could describe it as a bit of a binge. This never makes for feeling long-term satisfied and therefore it eventually ends, often abruptly and on to the next. We describe these people as having attachment anxiety and the growth of the Internet making available almost instant sexual partners is throwing them deeper and deeper into a hopeless place. The high of the next encounter is swiftly followed by a low or boredom… and the only way to fix it, is another high (date).  This type of behaviour can become addictive.

Sometimes we can avoid the pain of dealing with humans by throwing ourselves into work, campaigns or becoming close to animals or becoming spiritual. Often people will say they prefer animals to humans or find it easy to become engrossed in a spiritual concept without fully demonstrating it within their own world/society/family etc. Again it feels safer.

Material success or notoriety also gives a feeling of control over a damaged ego. Needing to be in control can be a sign of fear of others hurting us. It is lack of trust in other humans. All these methods of feeling a sense of worth or happiness can be a way of avoiding healthy committed relationships with humans a way of keeping safe.

Often we will attract people who offer up a familiar way of being, closely related to our early experience. Why you ask if it causes such pain? Well, mainly because it is familiar. We know (or we think we know) how to be in this type of relationship. Also, we have not grown and learnt yet how to be an emotionally healthy self. This is why I see clients again and again that tell me they are always getting hurt, let down.  It is because they are locked in repeat patterns. The efforts to avoid pain, causes more pain.

The trouble is, that if we keep the same patterns of behavior and are stuck in our early feeling state, we end up with repeats of the same poor relationships. We really need to start to understand what has happened in our lives and learn to understand what is dysfunctional and what is healthy. We need to look closely at our behaviours and relationships and start to work towards a healthy mindset and this will most definitely mean change of some sort. Scary? Yes. For most people letting go of past behaviours  thoughts and feelings can be a tough road, one where counselling with a good therapist can make the process an easier one.

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