Identifying Your Partner's Commitment Issues Is Hard (& Knowing When To Leave Is Harder)

Choosing to be in a relationship usually means you're dedicating your affection to your partner and actively opting to be open, honest, and authentic within your partnership. Unfortunately, sometimes you may show up in a relationship with open arms and an open heart only to discover that your partner isn't reciprocating your vulnerability and commitment. There are many reasons why a person may have commitment issues, whether they are habits developed during childhood or emotional walls they've built following past romantic experiences that were less than positive. And some people with commitment issues aren't able to — or aren't willing to — recognize and appropriately address them through applicable means such as therapy or self-reflection. In this case, you may be posed with the question of whether or not it's time to step away from the relationship so that you can be the best version of yourself and find a partner who is fully available and committed to you.

Commitment issues most frequently arise from a fear of long-term investment in situations, according to GoodTherapy. Since commitment issues often extend beyond romantic partnerships, take notice of your partner's level of dedication to their job, friendships, family members, and other areas of their life. If you see a pattern that indicates they may be afraid of dedicating themselves to situations for extended periods of time, then there might be some yellow or red flags you need to be aware of. However, many signs of commitment issues are more nuanced and difficult to discern.

Abandonment fears create abounding anxiety

People have different attachment styles that are generally the result of the attachments they developed as children. Psych Central reveals that potential attachment styles include anxious attachment, avoidant attachment, disorganized attachment, and secure attachment. The latter is indicative of healthy attachment cultivation and the greatest potential of having healthy relationships in adulthood. However, that doesn't mean that the other attachment styles are permanent fates since it's possible to change your style by putting in the proper self-reflection and self-development work. When it comes to anxious, avoidant, and disorganized attachment styles — including variants such as anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant — there is a high probability of attachment insecurity that is likely to stem from deeply rooted fears related to connecting with others in vulnerable and intimate manners.

Non-secure attachment styles frequently coincide with fears of abandonment, which can lead to relationship anxiety. When someone has a fear of abandonment, they may refrain from allowing themselves to become close with others altogether, per Healthline. If your partner has a fear of abandonment or non-secure attachment style, you may realize that they're constantly anxious, extremely sensitive to perceived criticism, prone to self-blame, tend to overextend themselves to please others, or hesitate to trust the bond of your relationship — no matter how many times you try to reassure them of your affection for them. Most importantly, know that you cannot change another person's attachment style for them, nor can you heal their fear of abandonment.

Dismissiveness is detrimental and dreadful

If your partner dismisses your needs, this is definitely a yellow or red flag. When someone fears abandonment, they may create a self-fulfilling prophecy of pushing you away by neglecting your needs or dismissing your input during conversations. This can be a sign ofa commitment issue, but it can also be a sign of simply being disrespectful, and you should always prioritize your well-being when it comes to how you deserve to be treated. 

Another reason why your partner might dismiss your needs could be founded in a fear of losing their independence, so they overcompensate, says Berkeley Well-Being Institute. If you feel like your partner isn't paying attention to your needs or you find that you're constantly having to reiterate your needs, then an unhealthy dynamic — rooted in commitment issues — is likely making itself at home in your relationship. 

On the flip side, some people with abandonment fears may overcommit and go overboard to meet your needs, ultimately sacrificing their own needs in the process. If this happens, your partner might experience resentment because their needs aren't being met, even though they're the one who isn't expressing them. Should your partner overcommit and refrain from prioritizing their own needs, only to turn around and accuse you of an unbalanced relationship, this can be indicative of a toxic environment. Try speaking with your partner to understand their needs and how to meet them as a team, but don't allow yourself to be steamrolled.

Pining for a past love plagues the present

Moving away from abandonment fears, another type of commitment issue that can exist in relationships is a lack of dedication to the present because your partner is still devoted to a past flame. Your partner fantasizing about reuniting with an ex — or actively pining for a past love — is going to result in your present relationship being unhealthy and lacking full commitment. The International Psychology Clinic reports common signs of someone still pining for an ex, including drunk dialing their ex, speaking about their ex and bringing up anecdotes about their past relationship during intimate moments in their current relationship, and reacting with noticeable emotion whenever their ex is mentioned or they share stories from their former relationship. It's normal to share select information about previous relationships with a new partner so they can understand your past experiences, and discussing these former bonds can allow you to share what you've learned about love and commitment. The key is to know when your partner is sharing information about their background to serve a constructive purpose in your present relationship, and when they're sharing information about their ex because they still have feelings.

Sometimes, the situation can be less about still being in love with an ex and more about jumping into a new relationship too soon after a breakup. Be open with your partner and ask them if they need more time to move past their former romance before committing to a new relationship.

Low self-esteem and lack of self are lamentable

Low self-esteem can be a result of an insecure attachment style (such as anxious or avoidant), a fear of abandonment, or because a person lacks a sense of self. No one should be made to feel patronized because they have low self-esteem, as this can actually make them feel far worse about themselves. But being in a relationship with a partner who has low self-esteem or lacks a sense of self can create barriers to developing a healthy dynamic and full commitment. Healthline reveals signs of low self-esteem, such as constant self-blame, self-deprecating remarks, negative self-comparisons to others or ideals, intense sensitivity to criticism, and an all-consuming focus on improving their perceived faults. 

In a healthy relationship, you and your partner should be able to genuinely compliment one another, be appreciative of one another's affection, and discuss obstacles through the lens of being teammates. If your partner has low self-esteem, their ability to commit to a healthy relationship may be hindered. Should you find yourself constantly trying to convince your partner of their strengths and what makes them great — yet they refuse to believe that you're telling the truth when you compliment them, or they approach obstacles as full attacks on them and their faults — then you may need to consider if the relationship is viable. Again, it isn't your responsibility to heal another person's insecurities or fears, nor are you liable for helping your partner develop a sense of self.

Secrets threaten emotional safety and security

When you think about secrets in relationships, you probably jump straight to cheating or keeping secrets about one's whereabouts. Cheating and infidelity are indicative of blatant commitment issues and are clear red flags akin to blaring neon signs warning you of your partner's lack of commitment. In a much more nuanced dynamic, though, secretive behavior in a relationship can arise if you commit to a relationship with someone who doesn't work toward including you in other areas of their life. NBC News reveals that this can take the form of pocketing, a behavior in which your partner hides you from the rest of their life. 

Of course, there are legitimate reasons why your partner may not want to introduce you to their family, especially if their family dynamic is unhealthy or they've distanced themselves from their family members. But if this is the case, your partner should be open about it with you and communicate with transparency. Scenarios in which your partner doesn't clarify the situation with you, doesn't provide honest explanations, or makes excuses for why they don't include you in other areas of their life are strong inklings that there are commitment issues at play. The reasons why your partner doesn't weave you into areas of their life can be vast, but the result is the important factor. If speaking with your partner about your feelings doesn't lead to positive change or understanding, then take it as a sign that it's time to move on.

Boundaries are bankable and beneficial

Whether your relationship has fully equal commitment from both people or you suspect that your partner has commitment issues, setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is one of the most mature and beneficial habits you can instill in any relationship. Establishing relationship boundaries is essential in ensuring that you are treated fairly and that you can thrive in your life. Real Simple acknowledges the reality that it can be easier to identify and acknowledge geographical boundaries on a map than it can be to set and maintain figurative personal boundaries, especially for people who are used to going out of their way to accommodate others. The act of setting boundaries is commonly associated with saying no to things, which is a truthful component of boundaries. But in the context of relationships, boundaries go further and require identifying what makes you comfortable and uncomfortable and then verbalizing your comfort levels to your partner. If your partner's commitment issues make you uncomfortable and they don't respect your boundaries, it's time to stand your ground and end the relationship.

If your partner is a kind person and there aren't any abusive or manipulative behaviors in your relationship, then it's okay to stay in touch with them on a platonic basis. Just because your partner has commitment issues doesn't mean that you can't remain friends. Who knows, perhaps they'll work on their personal growth, self-reflect, and develop healthy communication skills — and one day become a partner who can fully commit to you.

Love yourself with limitless loyalty

Knowing your worth and how you deserve to be treated are the two most important pieces of information that will help you discern if you should leave a relationship, especially if your partner has commitment issues that you don't see being resolved. Of course, ending a relationship is easier said than done, even when you know that your partner isn't treating you the way you deserve. Reassure yourself that you are worth being with a partner who fully commits to you, and if you need extra reminders, try reaching out to your support circle, family members, or your best friends. Forbes Health reports that being in a relationship with someone who has commitment issues can lead to emotional uncertainty, so finding ways to replenish your emotional well-being is vital and valuable. 

Practicing self-care is imperative, even if it's simply by giving yourself gentle reminders that standing up for yourself and the commitment you deserve. According to Cleveland Clinic, choosing an affirmation to repeat to yourself on a daily basis can help reinforce your self-worth. Tell yourself that you are loved, that you're amazing, and that you're deserving of someone who is over-the-moon excited to fully commit to being in a relationship with you because they think that you're the most incredible person in the universe (because you are!)