Commitment phobia is the fear and avoidance of having to commit
to anything, relationships in particular.
Usually the sufferer will be overly critical of the other
partner in the relationship. They will set out to annoy or hurt
the other person, thus sabotaging the relationship even if its
thought to be going well.
Sometimes the commitment phobic will reject others from the word
go, thus not allowing a potential relationship to develop and
keeping themselves at a safe distance. Other commitment phobics
can be flirtatious and affectionate and appear to want a
relationship until the fear wins out and the other person is
pushed away, broken hearted.
Some commitment phobics genuinely want to meet Mr or Miss Right
and get married, but will often have somewhat unrealistic ideals
regarding possible suitors. They may fall in love with someone
who they know isn't interested in a long-term relationship. This
way they can deliberately choose a person who can't/won't commit
to them, therefore leaving them "safe" from long-term commitment.
The causes of this phobia are sometimes associated with a loss
or trauma of some kind such as parental separation or
bereavement. Maybe as a child they had poor role models or
witnessed/were victims of abuse. This can have an effect on
their approach to adult relationships. Often, at the heart of
the fear, is the fear of rejection by others. To pre-empt this
they will reject first, impose distance between themselves and
others and thus feel safe.