Fear of Commitment in Relationship – Nigeria

Key words: Commitment phobia, intimate relationship, Nigerian, gamophobia, fear of commitment.


Fear of Commitment in Relationship – Nigeria.  Why are certain people afraid to commit in an intimate relationships? Is commitment phobia a mental illness?

Commitment phobia, which can be fear of commitment in relationship, is also known as gamophobia. It is actually an irrational fear of entering into marriage or wedding. Irrational means that there is no basis for the fear. This is different from ordinary fear which is rational. There are different types of commitment phobia, but this writeup will focus on commitment to relationships.

Commitment phobia in an intimate relationship is a form of an anxiety disorder. It presents with irrational fear of making a commitment, bonding or attaching to a particular person. So being an anxiety disorder, the person has an irrational worrying or fear that comes with the anticipation and avoidance. Thus, apart from having fear, there is anticipation that something will go wrong somewhere along the course of the relationship. So the individual will do all in his or her power to avoid such a commitment or bond.

What causes fear of commitment in a relationship – Nigeria?

One reason is being afraid that it will cut short their ambitions in life. Especially for women who are academically ambitious, or financially ambitious. Some men may not want such women, they will want a woman to be in the kitchen. For women this could be one of the causes of fear of Commitment in Relationship – Nigeria.

Some people are afraid of losing their freedom, their privacy, etc. Because they believe that starting a family may tie them down. Some are afraid of having children.

Some are so attached to their family members, that they are afraid that the incoming person may steal their affection. They see intimacy as being dangerous, because it will separate them from the love of their mothers.

Some people will prefer experimenting from one romantic relationship to another. They are not ready to be tied to one person. Settling down with one person is believed to require a lot of emotional commitment, honesty, loyalty, respect, etc.

Others are afraid of getting hurt from the relationship, or fear of abandonment. This could stem from past experiences from disloyalty and pain.

Some people have issues with trust, so they have difficulties in trusting other people. This can emanate from past experiences.

Some believe that they are not good enough for their partner. This means that they don’t deserve such a good person. So they are afraid of failing their partners.

What causes commitment issues?

Here are the underlying factors to what can cause or predispose someone to commitment phobia in Nigeria. And being an anxiety disorder, gamophobia, is brought about by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Genetic issues.

Due to the fact that commitment is a type of anxiety disorder, there is a genetic predisposition. A genetic issue inherited from parent(s). It runs in the family.

Environmental factors.

It is important to know that adult relationships are affected by experiences one had in childhood. So if a child had good relationship with parents, then the child will grow up as a socially secured adult. And a neglected or abused person will have problems in forming intimate relationships in adulthood.

In Nigeria, the role that parents play in ensuring that the child experiences love, attention, socialization, etc. is hugely inadequate. Parents do not spend quality time with their children and their parenting and disciplinary methods are too harsh.

Attachment disorders or insecurity.

Attachment is an emotional bond or tie that exists between a child and his/her primary care giver. Most of the time it is usually the mother, but can occasionally be the father. It is due to the interactions between the mother and the baby.

This attachment helps the child develop emotionally, socially, etc. It helps to determine future relationships. And attachment also helps provide security and a coping method for stress.

Without a secured attachment, the child will have the risk of breaking down with psychological and social issues in adulthood. And one of these social issues is commitment in relationships.

A secure attachment leads to a healthy social adult. The baby developed trust for others and sees the world as a safe place.

An insecure attachments consists of avoidant, anxious and disorganized types. Such babies grows up seeing the world as a dangerous place where no one can be trusted.

Parenting issues in Nigeria.

The Nigerian culture requires respect to be given to parental authority, which impose a lot of strictness. So, the authoritarian type of parenting is mostly practiced, but with modernization, the authoritative parenting is beginning to surface.

There are actually four major parenting styles practiced globally. These are:

The authoritative, where the parents have high demand on the child, but also very responsive to the child’s need. This is far more beneficial to the child than the other types of parenting. The children grow up socially competent.

The authoritarian, where the parents are highly demanding of the child, and not responsive to the child’s needs. Children from such parents have poor social skills and low self esteem.

Indulgent or permissive, where the parents are highly responsive to the child’s needs, but low at demanding. These children have good social skills, but they end up as deviants.

The uninvolved, where the parents are both low in responsiveness to the child’s needs and in demanding. These children will lack confidence, have low self esteem, and will be unable to stresses of life.

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

This entails stresses and traumatic experiences the child had to go through in the hands of the parents or guardian. It involves being physically or psychologically abused or neglected as well as being sexually abused. Others are witnessing maternal abuse, divorce or separation, or even death of a parent. Even witnessing community violence is one of the ACEs. Adults from such dysfunctional homes have difficulties with trust and commitments. These can lead to fear of Commitment in Relationship – Nigeria.

Unfortunately, most parents in Nigeria make use of corporal punishment or physical abuse as a disciplinary measure. And with the frequency of its use, it becomes physical abuse. Physical abuse can reduce social competence.

Due to the economic situation in the country, parents are unable to give their children the material things that the require. These includes being unable to provide school fees when due. Thus such children face the shame of being asked to leave the school frequently. This can reduce self esteem.

Maternal abuse, which is abuse of the mother is seen as a norm, because the Nigerian culture accepts this. And presently the rate of divorce in Nigeria is increasing, due to many factors. All these can psychologically affect children.

Witnessing community violence in Nigeria is very rampant, be it Boko Haram, herdsmen and farmers, police brutality, etc. Children are caught in between all these.

Personality disorders.

Those with borderline personality disorder find it difficult to trust others. Also those with schizoid or schizotypal personality disorders, find it difficult to make intimate relationships.

Past experiences.

Those abused in past relationships, will have difficulties in trust, and will fear reoccurrence of the abuse, for example, infidelity. Even reading or hearing stories, especially from social media, about abusive and failed marriages, can predispose to commitment phobia.

Fear or phobia can also arise from cultural issues. Most African men are not comfortable with the present financial independence of modern women. So they are afraid of losing their respect.

Family modeling, which can result from growing up with a single parent that never married. Also family over involvement in the individual’s issues can be a risk factor to commitment phobia. This can arise when the mother or the sisters want to control the individual.

Low self esteem.

Self esteem is actually a subjective feeling of self worth. So those with low self esteem will see themselves as not good enough for the partner. So committing to an intimate relationship becomes difficult.

Signs of fear of Commitment in Relationship – Nigeria.

The individual will not be willing to discuss future plans of the relationship. This discussion gives the person anxiety symptoms, like palpitations, tremors, has the feeling of being trapped, etc.

If the individual does discuss the future, it is usually self centered. So they maybe using the word ‘I’ instead of ‘we’.

The individual will refuse to be called a girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, fiancé. This could make the individual feel caged. So the individual prefers a casual relationship. And will want to end any serious relationship, quickly.

The individual will be asking the partner too many questions concerning the relationship. The person wants reassurance.

The individual finds it difficult to use the word ‘love’ in the relationship. And may avoid attending wedding ceremonies. Such a person may also avoid having friends that are married.

How to stop being scared of commitment.

Self help tips for the individuals who suffer from commitment phobia.

Talk the issue over with your partner, and let him know about your fears. So let him or her know about your past experiences.

Get the social support you need from your partner, and both encourage one another. As many things as possible should be done together.

Both partners should be open to each other, as well as respect each other’s boundaries. This will help to develop trust in each other.

But when necessary, the individual should be given his/her personal space. The individual should not be put under pressure.

Try to overcome your fears by attending wedding ceremonies, and do positive talks to yourself. This will help change your perception about commitment.

The need for professional help.

There is need to consult with professionals such as a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist. The clinical psychologist will use talk, to do individual, couple therapy, etc. And the psychiatrist will use medications to treat the anxiety disorder and other psychiatric issues.

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