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Getting To Commitment

Mr. Steven Carter's great insights into relationship dynamics are presented here in an easy-to-understand language, and without overdoing the psychological perspectives. Many commitment questions are answered here in this book. A must read for anyone afflicted with commitment issues or involved with someone who is.

He's Scared, She's Scared

Available for the first time in paperback, this follow-up to the phenomenally successful Men Who Can't Love tackles the issue of commitmentphobia, that persistent obstacle to truly satisfying contemporary relationships. Authors Stephen Carter and Julia Sokol explore why modern men and women are torn between the desire for intimacy and the equally intense need for independence. Drawing on numerous interviews and real-life scenarios, and written with humor, insight, and the kind of wisdom gained by personal experience, He's Scared, She's Scared offes guidance for all of us who want genuine, sustained intimacy with our romantic partners.

Men Who Can't Love

This book saved me from going crazy and from wasting any more of my precious time with a man who is a consumate commitmentphobic. I got this book after a therapist friend of mine said that all my complaining and moaning about my commitmentphobic boyfriend sounded just like the people in this book she'd read - "Men Who Can't Love". I got on line and nabbed a copy. What a life saver! My jaw dropped as I read this book because it describes the behaviors of commitmentphobics precisely as I have been experiencing my boyfriend's behavior. It's so true that the more I pressed him for answers while trying to understand his avoidant behaviors, the more he withdrew from me. "I don't wanna talk about it" is his mantra. All his behaviors were laid out like his biography in this book. It was shocking and revealing at the same time.

I Hate You, Don't Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality

This is a great book for an inside look at Borderline Personality Disorder. If you have a person with BPD in life this book is a must have. If you have BPD it will help you understand that some of your behaviors that seem unusual to other are understandable and can be explained and treated.

Conquering CommitmentPhobia
By Janice D. Bennett, Ph.D.

The process of creating a life partner relationship typically progresses through various stages. At one important point, a couple will decide to become "exclusive," agreeing not to date anyone else. While being exclusive has its benefits, it is really only one stop on the road to a life partnership. That's because creating a life partner relationship requires taking the ultimate step of making a commitment.

This is the point in relationships when I frequently hear a lot of complaints, such as "She's worried about being only with me," or "He's got 'commitment phobia'." The term "commitment phobia" is a rather new addition to the English language. The original use of the term "phobia" comes from classical psychoanalysis, and is defined as "an obsessive, persistent, unrealistic intense fear of an object or situation." Common phobias are acrophobia, the fear of heights; claustrophobia, the fear of closed spaces; and agoraphobia, fear of open spaces. These unrealistic fears are thought to stem from "the displacement of an internal (unconscious) conflict to an external object symbolically related to the conflict." (A Psychiatric Glossary, Fourth Revised Edition, American Psychiatric Association.)

However, modern behavioral psychologists say phobias result from painful and/or traumatic events. For example, being stuck in a crowded elevator or subway train for a long period of time can cause phobic (fearful) reactions to, and avoidance of, elevators and subways, i.e., claustrophobia, in the future.

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Defining the term "commitment" is a bit easier. It is a promise, a pledge or a vow. Making a commitment or a promise is essential when pursuing a goal. For example, an athlete wanting to win a gold medal in the Olympics must make a commitment to do everything it takes to win. As it pertains to the goal of creating a life partner relationship however, the commitment requires being loyal, trustworthy and faithful to another person.

Putting the two words together, the term "commitmentphobia" becomes "an unrealistic fear of making a promise, a pledge or a vow to be a faithful and loyal partner to another person."

It would be understandable if a person has relationship fears because of some direct, painful experiences. A common precipitator is the experience of relationship failure, either that of one's own or of a close loved one. Here's an example --

Janet's parents divorced when she was 8 years old. While she lived with her mother and older sister, Jan had regular visits with her father in his new home. Her mother remarried a man whom Jan felt was vulgar and rude, and her father remarried a woman who Jan felt took advantage of her father's good nature. As a teenager and adult, Jan had relationship failures of her own, and eventually realized that she had no role-models for a healthy, working marriage. She entered psychotherapy and worked on clarifying what she wanted and needed in a relationship. She hung out with couples she respected, and got closer to attaining the kind of relationship she wanted by the time she met Mark on an online dating website.

Jan and Mark hit it off quite well, sharing many interests and life goals. They agreed to become exclusive after a couple of months, and within 7 months they were talking about marriage. This was when Jan found herself obsessing and worrying about her future, crying, losing sleep and sweating nervously whenever the topic of marriage came up. She knew she loved Mark and wanted to marry him, but her fears were so strong that she refused to discuss it with him anymore.

Psychotherapy helped Jan to see that she was not her mother or her father, that she had the skills and abilities to be in a loyal partnership, and that Mark was nothing like her father (a pushover) or her stepfather (crude and overbearing). Once Jan got a handle on the realities, she was able to move forward with wedding plans and married Mark one year to the date they met.

Janet's experience of her parent's divorce, coupled with her own relationship failures, set the stage for her fearful reactions to committing to Mark. With U.S. divorce rates hovering around 50%, witnessing dysfunctional relationships is quite commonplace, so it's not difficult to understand why many singles might experience commitment phobia.

Unfortunately, I see another manifestation of commitmentphobia today with singles who suffer from perfectionism. They fear having to compromise their vision of an ideal mate, and believing that there will always be someone better around the corner, they reject date after date after date. Rejecting suitable partners then becomes a habit they become experts at, and their "pickiness" masks their true "commitment phobia."

Sam is a successful stock broker in his early forties. He says he has been dating for the purpose of marriage since his mid-twenties, and has dated almost 200 women. He says that he is capable of commitment, pointing to the exclusive relationships he has had, some of them lasting for over a year. Sam almost got engaged twice, but the first woman wasn't as educated as he, and the second woman's mother was overweight. He claims that the reason he's not married is because he "hasn't found the right woman yet."

Expecting perfection is an unrealistic and unattainable goal, yet fears of making a mistake can be paralyzing. Sam needs to learn how to focus more on the quality of the connections he's making with his dates, rather than continue to judge them based on the specifics. If he's unable to change his approach, then his inability to make a commitment is beyond coaching, and would require the deeper introspection that psychotherapy offers.

For most singles, however, conquering the fear of commitment, or "commitmentphobia," involves managing the risks inherent in attempting any new endeavor. For many, this "risk-management" can be accomplished by making sure that you are truly ready, willing and able to be in an exclusive, committed relationship.

But for the true "commitmentphobes," more help might be needed to overcome the paralyzing fears preventing them from attaining their ultimate goal of a loving and committed life partner relationship. But it can be worth it.

© Copyright 2006 Janice D. Bennett, Ph.D.

About Janice D. Bennett, Ph.D. Practicing as a psychologist for over 20 years, Janice has treated many singles looking to get married, but who had become depressed and demoralized by the dating process. She now uses her skills and experience to help healthy singles overcome the obstacles preventing them from attaining the relationships and lives they really want. Janice has been quoted in Cosmopolitan Magazine, writes the "Love Coach" advice column on, has a free e-newsletter and gives teleclasses, lectures and workshops. Check out her "Get Your Love Right!" blog, read other dating-related Q's&A's and articles, and sign up for a complimentary 40 minute telephone coaching session by visiting her website at

From Commitment Phobe to "I Do"! A ten-step plan for winning your CP's heart and getting that long overdue & much deserved commitment. Get the Commitment Phobe to Make a Commitment! Join Our Awesome Community and talk with other CPs and CP Lovers!

Dream Chasers: The Commitment Phobe Addiction (Falling in Love and Dealing with a Commitmentphobic Person). You can be reading this insightful information, written especially for those who are in love with a commitment phobic person, in less than two minutes! (NOTE: This webBook is free when you join our community!)

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The Girls' Guide to Surviving a Break-Up
The essential female companion from the first moment he walks out of your life! The Girls' Guide to Surviving a Break-Up offers step-by-step advice for getting over him.

The Hell with Love: Poems to Mend a Broken Heart
Finally a book of poetry that describes every emotion you go through when you are in love and heart broken. This book is amazing and wonderful. I recommend it to who ever loves poetry and ever had a broken heart.

He's Just Not That Into You (The Newly Expanded Edition): The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys
It seems like everywhere you turn the phrase "He's just not that into you" is being thrown around. And for good reason! The ladies are finally done waiting by the phone - hey, why sit at home for the phone to ring when it's so obvious that he's just not that into you?

Women Men Love, Women Men Leave: What Makes Men Want to Commit?
In easy psychological terms, this book helps a woman understand why a man may react negatively to her even when she feels she's doing everything right for a relationship. With different female personalities portrayed, the reader will find themselves fitting one or more of the profiles.  |  |
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