Overcoming the fear of commitment

Thursday April 08 2021
By Joan Salmon

Commitment or the lack thereof is a key factor in relationships. Evelyn C Kharono, a counselling psychologist, says commitment is one of the key elements that may lead to a stable relationship.

“However, this has been abused time and again, especially by young people nowadays who are fascinated by the idea of being in a relationship only for the ‘benefits’ and when they are no more, they look for the quickest way out,” she says.

Fear of failure

Growing up, Jane* always watched her parents fight and insult each other. From a young age, she knew that relationships involved breaking each other’s hearts and this had a profound effect on her future relationships. She never settled down into a marriage and even in her old age, she is comfortable with just flings. Usually, due to past experiences and exposure of self plus those of friends and relatives, Beatrice Balitenda Kakembo, a counsellor, says one may choose to stay single or avoid getting into anything that will turn out to be serious. 


Many people are in the habit of glossing over issues such as the kind of family one comes from, their culture, and how finances will be handled in a marriage. However, Kharono says under normal circumstances, discussions surrounding marriage are meant to happen during courtship. “If these important topics are not discussed, then both parties are not looking at the long-term,”  she notes.


Perks of single life

When one is non-committal, Kakembo says, they do not have to answer to anybody and only do what they want. “Such people enjoy the freedom of dating different people as and when they wish,” the counsellor says.  She adds that there is also that comfortable feeling and idea that long time relationships are not for everyone, which may be attributed to peer pressure from friends and relatives. “If these are single and give off the air of being ‘happy and comfortable’, then one may choose not to commit,” Kakembo says.


Some people are indecisive in nature, which affects their commitment.

“Marriage is a decision and if there is no clear indication of what the partners intend to do to strengthen their relationship then commitment will not take place,” Kharono explains, adding that others will go through one relationship after another yet never commit, expecting to always meet someone better.


Commitment comes with responsibility which some people are not ready or willing to shoulder. “If you are not willing to give your all and take care of your partner, then you have no reason to commit. Commitment means selflessness and the ability to always be there,” Kakembo says.

Emotional baggage

Relationships are fully embedded with emotions yet everyone would choose to enjoy their comfort zone without the worry about anyone else’s emotions.

“Human beings are quite emotionally fragile and, therefore, may have that fear of having to continually deal with or nurse someone else’s emotions,” Kakembo shares.

Starting a relationship is easy but sustaining one is usually a challenge. Kakembo says commitment takes the challenge to a whole new level. “But in a bid to find a solution to the fear or lack of commitment, one has to identify the reason behind it,” she explains. 

That said, talking to a relationship counsellor will also help. “The counsellor will objectively explore available options and help one look at the bigger picture. It is important to note that everyone’s life reality is uniquely different,” Kakembo advises.


While it is important for a couple to understand what marriage entails in order to be committed, Beatrice Balitenda Kakembo, a counsellor, says failure to know the role of a man and woman in a relationship affects commitment. “You cannot go into a committed relationship if you have been raised to think that a woman will take over the home, including roles meant for the husband,” Kakembo says.