Commitment phobia is the fear of commitment, especially in a marriage or a long-term relationship. For a long time, it was believed that only men had this fear. In the recent years, however, the population of women who actively choose to be single are increasing rapidly. A classic example of a commitment phobe is Maggie Carpenter in the 1999 romantic comedy film “Runaway Bride” (starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere). After leaving three grooms-to-be waiting at the altar, she makes yet another attempt to get married—this time with Bob, a high school football coach. The marriage didn’t take place, after Ike kissed Maggie at the wedding rehearsal.

Soon after, Ike and Maggie decide to marry, since the wedding plans are all set. But, Maggie gets cold feet on the wedding day, and left Ike, like all her previous grooms-to-be, standing at the altar. Commitment phobia is not just a movie plot. It is a real problem that a lot of women are dealing with nowadays. Commitment phobes are capable of cultivating natural relationships and actually want to be committed. They have high, unusually unrealistic expectations at the initial stage of each relationship. The feeling doesn’t last that long, though. Pretty soon the thought of being in a long-term commitment makes them feel trapped and suffocated.

They are then overpowered by fear, and they do everything in their power to get out of the relationship. All over the world, the population of single women are skyrocketing—and we simply have to ask: why? Why are women becoming terrified of commitment? The causes of commitment phobia can sometimes be traced back to a loss or trauma of some kind such as a nasty divorce or death of a parent, poor role models or the child has witnessed / has been a victim of abuse. Some women have purely professional reasons. Women today are more empowered and have more choices than in the past.

A brilliant career often demands a lot of their time and is prized greatly than a relationship or marriage. But, a lot of them fear commitment because of very obvious reasons: they have been cheated on, used and manipulated, and left to fend off on their own because their men bailed out on them. Getting her heart torn into shreds if she commits could happen again. So how do you know if your Maggie is a commitment phobe or not? Spot the signs and save yourself needless pain: Take a look at her history of relationships. How many times did she get married? Did she have a string of unavailable partners before you? If she did, then your relationship is probably not for the long haul.

You can always convince yourself that she will eventually change, once she knows how terrific a partner you can be. Ask her what she wants—a commitment phobe will either give you a vague description of what she’s looking for or admit straight up that she is indeed one. Have you met her family or friends? Has she ever made plans for your future together? Are you dating exclusively? If not, then she just might be scared to commit or maybe not looking for an exclusive relationship just yet. What's so exciting about her? Sometimes your own ambivalence in relationships makes the commitment phobic woman attractive.

It could be that your own fears could possibly draw you to the un-availableness of the person. A commitment phobic woman doesn’t have to be in a church, filled with attendants and a groom waiting at the end of the aisle, to have cold feet. Being in a relationship with a Maggie is hard, but there is always a chance that she could exorcise her fears. Seeking professional help or counseling may help her understand the roots of her fear and how to conquer them.

Author's Bio: 

The author of this article Ruth Purple is a Relationships Coach who has been successfully coaching and guiding clients for many years. Ruth recently decided to go public and share her knowledge and experience through her website relazine.com. You can sign up for her free newsletter and join her coaching program.