As a breakup coach many people ask me whether commitment-phobes feel guilty. I always ask them why they want to ask this question. The answer is often because they want to know that the commitment-phobe is suffering as much as they are.
Is The Commitment-phobe Suffering Too?
A commitment-phobe’s behaviour sends a message to the other person that they are not important enough to them to make a commitment, which is often perceived as I am not good enough to have a committed relationship with. Anyone in a relationship with a commitment-phobe will be hurting to a certain extent. This is because there is a mismatch in what the two people want (i.e. one person wants a commitment and the other one doesn’t). When we don’t get what we want, we become frustrated and feel psychological discomfort as a result, which causes us to feel a certain amount of pain. In addition to this, a commitment-phobe’s behaviour sends a message to the other person that they are not important enough to them to make a commitment, which is often perceived as I am not good enough to have a committed relationship with. This realisation hurts like hell, especially if the person already suffers with low self-esteem and doesn’t feel good enough anyway. Can you imagine how painful it is to believe that you are not that loveable (which is painful enough in itself) and then have someone you love confirm on a daily basis your painful belief by sending you a message though their behaviour that they don’t value you enough either. That’s double ouch!
Whenever someone is hurt by another person’s behaviour, they believe that they will feel better knowing that the other person is hurting too because it’s a pretty painful feeling when you have been hurt by someone and they aren’t suffering as well. For many, the injustice of it is just too much to bear.
The answer to the original question is that many commitment-phobes do feel guilty as they are aware that they are disappointing people, but this guilt is not great enough to stop them from avoiding commitment as the pain of committing to someone outweighs the guilt that they feel. In addition to this, many commitment-phobes reduce the guilt that they feel by making excuses (often totally crazy & irrational) to their partner and themselves, so that they can feel better about themselves and continue to avoid commitment as they have managed to find a “justification” for their behaviour. What I would say to anyone who is questioning whether commitment-phobes feel guilty is this…
“Whether a commitment-phobe feels guilty or not does not change the fact that you are hurting. Stop asking whether they are hurting (though the experiencing of guilt) and start asking why you are choosing to stay with someone who is behaving in a way that results in you feeling unloved and rejected every day. Everyone deserves to be in a relationship where they feel loved and if you aren’t then it’s time to ask yourself some questions about your definition of a healthy relationship and what prevents you from leaving this relationship and finding someone who makes you feel loved and wanted.”
Every person who waits around for a commitment-phobe to change has self-esteem issues, as those with healthy levels of self-esteem would not choose to stay in a painful situation. Those who are in a relationship with a commitment-phobe are people of worth, they just don’t realise it and the longer they stay in this damaging relationship, the worse they will feel. The day that they decide to leave the relationship is the day that they can stop the daily damage and start working on healing themselves ready for a healthy & loving relationship.