Dear Guru,

I am looking for a therapist for my boyfriend and/or myself. We've been together for the better part of 6 years and he suffers from what I believe- based mostly on the book "He's Scared She's Scared" and our history together- to have fairly severe commitmentphobia.

I am hoping to find a counselor who is familar with the patterns of a commitmentphobic and possibly specializes in helping couples develop in spite of it. We went to a relationship counselor a couple of years back and she did not seem to understand Jon's issues. He felt "ganged up on" and like it was unproductive so we stopped going. All was really great between then and now but recently the cycle has begun again and I am looking for some help.

Would you happen to have any suggestions?

I appreciate any help you can provide!


Dear Kari,

As a therapist, I fully appreciate just how common commitment phobia is.

Your boyfriend may have a history where early attachment figures were either intrusive or neglectful. He probably has trouble trusting and depending on others although the truth might be that he is quite needy. He may only know how to manage vulnerable feelings with distancing and avoidant behavi

A relationship with someone who is commitment phobic can be quite challenging. For example, the person with commitment phobia may be extremely critical of their partner, the environment the relationship is in, or of the relationship itself. Criticism like this is an unconscious attempt by the person with the commitment phobia to deflect the ‘blame’ off of themselves onto their partner.

In a relationship with a commitment phobic person you will see a push/pull dynamic. This can happen when a commitment phobic is in a relationship, but suddenly feels trapped or pressured. Their response is often to push their partner away…. they might sabotage or end the relationship, even at the expense of their partner’s feelings. However, once they have ‘run away’ from the relationship, the commitment phobic often starts to feel ‘emptiness’. They start to realize that they did love their partner after all. This emptiness… missing the other person, can often cause them to go back to them.

Commitment phobic individuals and their partners can benefit a great deal from therapy. A therapist can help both partners deepen their awareness of their emotions and learn to talk about their feelings from "the insidie out" - revealing instead of controling. Therapy can help both partners learn how to slow down their reactions when under stress and learn how to process feelings and problem solve more effectively. Ultimately, the goal of counseling would be to make the relationship "safe" for both people.

Hope this helps Kari. Let me know if I can help you further.

Guru For Two

Author's Bio: 

Rhonda Audia, LISW,has over 25 years experience counseling and educating individuals and couples about relationship success. She believes, "We can all use a relationsionship "guru" who can disperse the shadows and enlighten our path to connection and happiness." Her professional mission is to help inidviduals and couples acquire the insight and the tools to have more loving and lasting connections. Rhonda's belief is that "Conflict in a relationship is unavoidable but DISCONNECTION IS OPTIONAL."