Cold Feet to Commitment

by | Jul 6, 2018 | Engagement | 0 comments

Question

I have been dating a guy for the past 7 months. He is wonderful in many ways and our relationship is strong, even though it is not what I had ever imagined. There are things that bother me, yet not enough to break it off. I think we are in a good place and don’t feel the immediate need to move to the next stage.

He is very ready for marriage and I know that he is eager to propose in the near future. I‘m not ready! I don’t want to hurt him, yet I’m not sure how to get over my panic, fear, anxiety, and lack of clarity. I’m not ready to accept a proposal and not ready to break up. All advice and guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:

I feel your struggle. Many people in your position want to just hold onto that comfortable dating dynamic and maintain “the good times” as long as possible. The reality is, dating is a process in constant motion. Either it is getting closer to the goal of marriage or further away.

If you continue to leave thing as is, he will eventually walk away. As much as he wants to marry you, he clearly wants to be in a committed relationship. If you can’t provide that he will find someone that can. This may be hard to hear, yet it’s always better to be prepared for reality rather than get lost in our projections and get hurt later on.

Commitment anxiety can either be the result of a problem with the relationship or a problem with the decision. I’ll address the scenario where one recognizes that their dating partner is the right person (the relationship is good) they just can’t “pull the trigger” (the decision is tough.)

Often this is due to fear, anxiety, trauma from bad dating experiences, a family divorce, unhappily married parents, the loss of a parent, fear of failure, trouble with change/transition or low self-esteem.

Ultimately the decision of marriage is yours. We all have the free will to ruin a great opportunity. We also all have the ability to convince and rationalize to ourselves why it was OK to walk away from that great relationship.

Here are 8 tips that will help you overcome commitment fears:

  • 1. Ask yourself “Does my date meet my basic needs.” It’s imperative to ensure a prospective spouse meets our fundamental needs and that we share common goals and values. Other non-negotiables are respect, like, attraction, good character, and personality balance. Finally, you must feel understood, valued, kindly treated, and that a close friendship is developing.
  • 2. Get into a calm and relaxed headspace. Healthy decisions are best made in a calm headspace, free from pressure or stress. Get yourself to a happy place – your favorite scenery or coffee shop – that will give you the peace of mind and clarity to do some deep soul searching and heavy duty thinking.
  • 3. Imagine life without this person. Imagine how you would feel if your best friend married them. Would it hurt? Would you care? Would it mean anything to you if they walked away? While not foolproof, this exercise can be a real eye-opener.
  • 4. Don’t feel pressure to make a decision based on societal norms. Every person is different and requires a different length of time to arrive at clarity. On the other hand, if you’ve achieved clarity, more time won’t change anything. It will only cause the courtship to go stale. Strike while the iron is hot, don’t wait till things burn out.
  • 5. Ask yourself “Am I stuck in a routine?” You may be comfortable with your job, city, friends, etc. and don’t want to change your life. If you are young, this may be a sign that you’re not ready for marriage. If that’s the case, get out of the game and stay out until you’re ready to join your life with somebody else for good. If you are older, don’t be delusional to think that your life will satisfy you this way long term. Plan for your future. The best time to marry is sooner, not later.
  • 6. Don’t be too shy or proud to seek help. You may need to work with a professional – a therapist or dating coach – to get to the root of your fears, anxieties, and traumas so that you can move forward. Marriage is not a hospital for problems. Taking ownership for problems is not only a good for dating, it’s a critical skill for marriage.
  • 7. This might be about your ability to trust your own judgment. You may need to work on your self-esteem to gain confidence in your decision-making process. This critical life skill will pay dividends well beyond marriage. There are many resources that can help you diagnose and address deficiencies in self-esteem.
  • 8. Embrace the notion that a lifelong commitment will need to be made when there is uncertainty. If you wait to make a commitment when you are free of doubts, it will never happen. Even if you did wait, we both know that even strong relationships can unravel. There is no reward in life without risk. Marriage is rewarding enough to accept this risk.
  • Ultimately the decision of marriage is yours. We all have the free will to ruin a great opportunity. We also all have the ability to convince and rationalize to ourselves why it was OK to walk away from that great relationship. Sometimes saying “no” is the easy, but not the right, answer.

    Looking for the “right one” is important, but it won’t ever solver internal struggles. Nobody else can work on our issues for us. With calmness of mind and clarity of soul may you find the shortest distance to your longest relationship.

    Rachel Burnham

    Get clarity and traction in your dating today!
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