I hear from so many people who feel as if they’re breaking their backs trying to ‘get’ someone to commit. There’s a lot of angst about why the person won’t commit, often blaming themselves for that person’s resistance.

In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I delve into the topic of commitment-resistance and why behaving as if we have to influence, coerce and force people into commitment is an ineffective habit that’s also a recipe for pain.

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Some nuggets from the episode:

  • If we see commitment as something that we need to influence, coerce, force somebody else into doing, we’re setting ourselves up for pain. It also makes how much someone is prepared to commit to something that’s dictated by our worth and effort.
  • We make a commitment without knowing exactly who this person is going to blossom into, without knowing how our relationship is going to shift and grow (or not grow), and without knowing what the future holds for us personally.
  • Commitment starts with the decision to do something, to try, but then we’ve got to keep showing up to the decision again and again. It’s a decision that we keep re-making with the actions, choices and attitude every day.
  • Undercover commitment dodgers appear to give outward signs of wanting to commit but they passive-aggressively resist it.
  • Sometimes we find it difficult to acknowledge that we’re with a commitment-resistant person, but the clue is how much we’re pussy-footing around. What are we afraid to ask? Which subjects are we afraid to broach? Where do we fear being and doing certain things in case it causes them to bolt?

When the relationship is in jeopardy, a commitment-resistant person will often suddenly feel invested and want to fight to get us back. They’ll promise the sun, moon and the stars… and then backtrack to their original position.

  • Imagine relationships on a scale of 0-10. Emotionally unavailable and commitment-resistant folk like to keep the relationship at ‘five’. When things behave in ways that undermine the intimacy and whatever commitments have been made to bring it back to a ‘five’. Not too hot, not too cold, just ‘right’. This is the Status Quo of unavailable relationships.
  • You want to feel when you’re with somebody that you have the option of going somewhere.
  • An upfront commitment dodger will remind themselves (and you) that they were ‘honest’ with you. They see their warning as a Get Out of Jail Free card.
  • Premature commitment is when we commit, not to the person or even the relationship but the idea of it. We don’t even know them yet (and possibly haven’t even met) and we’re already ‘in’.

Trying to commit to every single person you become involved with shows lack of discernment.

  • Some people commit once they know that commitment isn’t on the table. Struggle activates their interest and desire to commit because they register an opportunity to people-please and be a perfectionist with their ‘efforting’.
  • For some folks, titles (e.g. girlfriend, boyfriend, partner) are about claiming the other party. They’re effectively branding them to have power while giving themselves license to do what they like.
  • Why do people say one thing and do another about commitment? Because they don’t want to see themselves as someone who isn’t capable of commitment or who has issues that are standing in the way. Pursuing the commitment (even though they later undermine it) is a way of avoiding addressing their issues.

If you’re pushing someone to commit, that’s a big clue that it’s not a mutual relationship or endeavour.

  • Societal conditioning has a lot to answer for in our attitudes towards commitment. In the past, for example, the message was that men don’t want to commit and that commitment is something that they only do for the ‘right’ woman.
  • A one-sided relationship commitment is like rowing a boat with one oar.
  • If we meet somebody who has a similar personal vision for a relationship, that creates a shared vision for the relationship.
  • Conscious commitment is about committing with integrity and based on your reasoning and values. It’s the difference between choosing based on preferences instead of programming. It’s vital to be aware of who you are, what you’re committing to and why. So many people pursue commitment because they think that it’s what they’re supposed to do, not because they want to. They do it because they think that it’s supposed to be what they want. That’s programming.

Links mentioned

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