Watch who you date
HE TREATS you like his girlfriend but constantly avoids commitment. He doesn't want you to date anyone else but he won't be your boyfriend
Does that sound familiar to you? You are dating a commitment phobic serial dater according to Asiphe Ndlela, a psychologist based in Illovo.
"Usually the woman is so in love with him she can't let it go, but knows he is no good and won't ever be in an official relationship though he and she act as if they are. Just when a woman gets over this man and moves on, he creeps back in to her life."
Ndlela says those who fear commitment are not likely to hold down a job for many years, will avoid getting married and basically do not follow through with plans.
"They might date a person and seek out the thrill but quickly move on to the next person.
"This could be the next day, the next month or the next year. If together for a long time, he or she will avoid and put off marriage for as long as possible or even leave the relationship to avoid any further commitment.
"The commitment phobic is unlikely to stay in one job for a long time and might even switch careers often.
"The commitment phobic is a thrill seeker. He or she seeks instant thrills that are short-lived. This might lead to serial dating or even becoming promiscuous."
She says commitment phobic people's backgrounds usually include coming from a dysfunctional family or childhood trauma from either the death of a parent in their early formative childhood years, abuse or parents who had drug and or alcohol problems.
She says that this behaviour is very common in charismatic churches.
"I do not know how many charismatic church women we have counselled after being hurt by a commitment phobic dater.
"In many cases these men go after the ladies with everything they have and will even seduce them into a relationship. Once they get them into it and when they develop deep feelings for them, that's when they begin planning their escape."
She says they start each new relationship with high, and usually unrealistic, expectations.
But it doesn't take long for them to feel suffocated and trapped by the thought of a long-term commitment. She says it's at that point that they start searching for ways to end their relationship.
"They are often looking for who they think would be their 'perfect' partner to fill them up emotionally, but they will usually experience a cycle of disappointment when each new lover fails to meet their idealised expectations."
Ndlela says a commitment phobic is rarely alone.
"He is always dating someone and most of his relationships are short because he likes to keep his options open.
She says sometimes commitment phobia can be a personality disorder. Professional help is often helpful in treating such cases.
Ndlela says women are also not immune to this condition.
"Things like fear of divorce, increased financial independence, delayed motherhood and the fact that more women than ever no longer feel the urgency, or the ability, to settle down."
But she warns that commitment phobia can often be misdiagnosed.
"Phobia is a word that carries a negative connotation, implying irrational, even neurotic, fear. But you should be careful before accusing your partner, or yourself, of being 'afraid' to commit.
"Cautious deliberation when making a decision with implications that could affect the rest of your life is not necessarily irrational or fearful. Sometimes it is the most prudent thing to do."