As already mentioned earlier, most articles on commitment phobia focus on the experiences of the partner of commitment phobe. Here I will try to give an overview of my own commitment phobic experience.
In my two first relationships I never even committed fully because I treated those as temporary. I started a relationship knowing it is going to end. I was so afraid of being seriously hurt and rejected so I actually never gave those guys a shot. Given, there were some signs that made me more careful along the way, but mostly I came out of the breakup looking good. Then I met the ex with capital letters. He was someone who represented most things I wanted to see in my husband: we had many many things in common, common values, common interest etc. One could say that there was a stable basis for the relationship, also because I really admired him. I liked so many things in him. At the moment when I was forced to commit more, I started doubting. I was scared as hell, also because the relationship included moving to another country. I had to sacrifice everything. I did move, but my ex was not sure he wants to move and told me he cannot give me any warrantees. Fast forward another year and my ex still had not told me that he loved me so I confronted him. He admitted that he had no idea what he felt for me. I felt pain. I truly felt very hurt at this moment, but there was somewhere a wish to avoid this pain, so I continued the relationship. Less enthusiastically.
I had already checked out of the relationship, or so I thought. I thought that the final breakup would not hurt because after all I had anticipated it for quite some time. It hurt like hell. Knowing that he did not love me truly broke me. For him it was just another relationship, whereas for me it was THE RELATIONSHIP. My experience with my ex made me so much more commitment phobic. I did not dare to plan the future with anyone anymore. I canceled all the possibilities with guys I could reasonably see the future with and instead chose my current boyfriend. I always treated him as a temporary solution. I never committed to him, but instead was pining over my ex. After all, it was the ex. The ex that had told me something I had dreaded in my heart- that I am not lovable.
My boyfriend patiently listened to me talking about my ex. He made a lot of shit over the years, but it was all the time obvious that he loves me. I just never really fully participated in the relationship because my boyfriend had some obvious problems which made it very difficult for me to imagine a future with him. He was nothing like I had dreamed my husband to be like. He was the complete opposite in so many ways. We did not have common values, no common interests. The only thing we had was some deeper level understanding. Something I actually never had with any other guy before. Somehow my boyfriend understood my pain, probably because rejection was not a foreign word to him either.
It was scary to be together with someone who is real, not the dreamguy from Hollywood. Who has expectations and wishes. Who has anger outbursts. Who smells. Who has tons of annoying habits. Who has the capacity to really really hurt me because he knows me so well. Someone who opens up and actually confesses me his love (seriously, someone confessing me their love is a scary experience for me). See commitment phobia is not there for no reason. It is there to warn us that we are not really ready to let anyone close. That we are way too vulnerable to actually allow for the presence of another person. It is a good defense mechanism, because I was never ready. I pushed my boyfriend away, I got hurt so many times, I distrusted him, I was a mess, still am to a degree. Commitment phobia is a little bit like a casket, it is there to protect, because something is broken. If you remove the casket too early, you end up doing more harm than good. That was what I did. I opened the casket too early and ended in a very stormy relationship with very uncertain future.
There is no smooth way out of commitment phobia, but my suggestion would be to start with therapy and then move on to relationship at some point. Me and my partner ended up hurting each other a lot. However, after my failure with the ex, I was already very very broken. I could not spend a day without crying for about a year and a half, so I guess that is quite radical.
In the future I will spend some more time talking about my very scary experiences in my current relationship- how it is for someone with some very strong fears to let someone else close. I hope it will also help to at least somewhat increase empathy for all those commitment phobic guys around.