Now That They Have You – Fear Sets In.
The hot pursuit has won you over. You have been swept off your feet and are convinced that love is possible. Feeling reassured by the romantic promises, you are now open, willing and expecting some form of commitment. The tables turn and the pursuer begins to run.
Welcome to Part 2 of the 4 part series that explores the 4 Stages of the classic commitment-phobic relationship.
This 4 part series will explain step-by-step, how a warm heart turns into a cold shoulder.
This article is a continuation of: Part 1 – The Beginning: They Must Have You – The Hot Pursuit!
The Sweet Spot
There is a delicious place in the beginning of a relationship where you are both enthralled with “the chase”. You are both in the discovery or fantasy phase and are going with the flow. This can be as short as one brief conversation, one date, one week or it can even last for years. At this stage, you are both happy without placing any pressure or discussing the future. The critical shift out of the sweet spot and into the panic mode happens when the person being pursued has been “won over” and is now ready for more than the pursuer is actually willing to give. It is the moment when the request for a deeper commitment is made and demands to deliver begin.
The Panic Button
The pursuer realizes that they have “caught you” and fantasy is quickly becoming reality. They are not as ready as they thought they were and everything is all together too suffocating – panic sets in. They begin to pull away and look for space to think things through. The act of pulling away confuses their partner and pushes their panic button. The roles reverse, the dynamic changes. The avoid-er now becomes the pursuer and looks to minimize the distance with attentive behavior. This pushes the commitment phobic partner further away and the escape tactics begin. [i]
Note on marriage: People with commitment phobia can even get married. Things may be fine until the fear of “forever” is triggered. This can be the day after the wedding, after a major purchase or change (home) or a child. They begin to feel trapped; like they cannot breathe and panic sets changing their loving behaviour.
The Middle: Indications that You are in the Middle of a Commitment Phobic Relationship.[ii]
Check all that apply
1. You sense them pulling away and resisting connection. (Fewer phone calls or less attention). You no longer feel like a priority in their life and they have believable reasons why things have changed.
2. You are receiving mixed messages from their words and actions.
3. They exclude you from certain areas of their life (family, friends or work) and make it clear that you are a separate part of their life. They make excuses that seem logical.
4. They avoid spending serious time with important people in your life.
5. The sexual patterns change and you are now making the first moves. You shift into the “pursuer”.
6. The natural flow of the relationship turns and they now define when and how they have time for you.
7. You start to feel that your requests seem like demands and they resent you for being counted on.
8. They don’t seem to hear what you are saying and pay less attention to your needs.
9. The more attentive, caring and loving you are, the more uncomfortable they get and pull away.
10. Seeing you becomes more difficult. They start to find issues and problems in the relationship that keep them at a safe distance. For example: “There is no parking by your house.” “We can’t watch movies on your couch.” “I think I am allergic to your dog.”
11. They start to find fault with you and looks for reasons why the relationship won’t work. They bring them to your attention. You feel hurt because they are mostly things you cannot change: your height, your body shape, your nationality, your family, your religion etc. These were things they had no problem with in the beginning, but now bother them as they look for ways to end the relationship.
12. You start getting hints that they are looking at, thinking about or actually seeing, another person (often someone from their past).
13. Even if they are seeing someone, they continue to tell you that your suspicions are unwarranted and you are the most important person.
14. They are deeply conflicted, become emotional and promise to change when you threaten them that you will leave.
15. You don’t see any signs of change, there is no progress and they are not open to talking about the relationship.
Now that the relationship has reached this stage, the inevitable is on the horizon – the end. In some relationships, this begins the pattern of “break up and make up”. Others can drag on in this dreadful dance of push and pull and even get married; feeling slighted, insulted and abused. This is why we encourage you (both men and women) to have high self esteem before going into a deep relationship so you can recognize when you are not being treated right – or getting crumbs, and leave. Others may also stay in the relationship – enthralled by their partner and lower their expectations for commitment just to be together. They will say things like, “We are just having fun.” Or “We agreed not to talk about anything serious until next year.”
To make this conversation more relevant to you, ask yourself these questions:
1. Have I exhibited these traits in previous relationships or in the relationship I am in now?
2. Am I or have I been in a relationship with a person who exhibits these traits?
3. Am I or have I accepted less than I deserve from my relationships?
4. What is now clear to me from reading this article?
5. Digging deeper within yourself – is there a part of you that secretly fears being in a lasting relationship?
We want you to know that as futile as all of this sounds, there is hope. Commitment phobia is a pattern behavior that can be overcome. It is just fear – subconsciously programmed fear that can be reprogrammed to enable people to enjoy fulfilling and long lasting love relationships. You will learn more about the last 2 phases in our next 2 articles.
Be courageous and uncover what’s keeping you undermined in your life. Discover 7 Subconscious Beliefs that Sabotage Your Life (and Relationships), read our new book UnderMind www.pnrt.ca/undermind
Courageously yours with love, Joanna and Tanya
[i] Carter, Steven, and Julia Sokol. “The Middle: When Your Ambivalence Translates Into Action.” He’s Scared, She’s Scared: Understanding The Hidden Fears That Sabotage Your Relationships. New York: Delacorte, 1993. 270. Print.
[ii] “The Middle: The First Rumblings of Panic.” Men Who Can’t Love. New York: Berkley Group, 1987. 39-40. Print.
[…] This is Part 3 of the 4 part series that explores the 4 Stages of the classic commitment-phobic relationship. This series will explain step-by-step, how a warm heart turns into a cold shoulder. It is a continuation of: Part 2 – The Middle: Now That They Have You, Panic Sets In […]