Signs your ‘person’ is a commitment-phobe

You know a commitment-phobe when you see one on TV, or you wouldn’t have groaned every time Blair and Chuck got back together again. But in your own life, spotting that commitment-phobe in between all the “I’m not sure when I’ll be free tonight’s” is a tougher challenge. Here, Dr. Berit Brogaard, Professor and Director of the Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Research at the University of Miami, explains how to spot avoidant attachment in the wild:

1. You don’t feel “matched” in your texts. 

In your messages, you’ll actually go deep into details about how your day was, providing plenty of opportunities for the other person to ask you, well, anything. But a commitment-phobe, according to Brogaard, will have “a tendency not to continue a text message thread, by replying briefly or submissively with ‘K,’ ‘Sounds like fun,’ ‘Wow,’ ‘IDK’ and so on.” So before you let them off the hook for bad texting, consider the fact that they could be emotionally unavailable.

2. Even after a great date, you won’t hear from them anytime soon. 

Brogaard warns that commitment-phobes tend to not initiate contact first and will go through long periods of radio silence after dates—meaning YOU always have to do all the romantic legwork.

3. They’re irritatingly vague about their schedule. 

Here are some key phrases that Brogaard says raise commitment-phobia alarm bells:

  • “I’m really busy at work right now. But let’s get together in a few weeks when things slow down a bit.”
  • “Sorry I haven’t been in touch for so long. Things have been crazy around here. What have you been up to?”
  • “Sorry, didn’t see your text ’til now. How are you?”

Ok, we’ve all sent the “omg so sorry, just saw this!” text after a four-hour Netflix binge. There’s a huge difference, though, when someone does this all the time, to the point where your main interaction with them is rainchecking.

4. They only plan dates around what’s convenient for them. 

Since their schedule is just ~too busy~, their ideas of dates include inviting you to a bar where, oh wow, *their* team is currently playing and it’s suuuuuch a tight game! Who cares that you don’t know the full rules of basketball and don’t really care? Not this guy, who only tells you when he’s free three hours in advance!

5. They’re chronically late, chronically flakey, or a lovely combo of both. 

Because they don’t want to view dating as “serious”, they don’t stress over or prioritize getting there on time and don’t really care if them canceling screws up their chances with you.

6. They’re pretty impulsive, but only when it comes to you. 

“They may be very conscientious and hardworking at work or in school but then be impulsive when it comes to going out or getting together,” says Brogaard. Everything comes before the person they’re dating.

7. They constantly reiterate how casual everything is. 

Another key phrase Brogaard says to be wary of is “Not sure I’m ready for a relationship right now. Give me some time.” You’ll make your desire for monogamy clear, and rather than breaking things off to spare any hurt feelings, they’ll string you along with promises of a “maybe-one-day” relationship.

8. They’re “not great” with PDA. 

“It’s difficult for commitment-phobes to show signs of affection, especially in public,” says Brogaard. “They will tend not to say ‘I love you’ back, or they will only say it after drinking or the like. Some can only put it in writing but not say it (or vice versa).”

9. They usually don’t have true, close friends. 

While “they may still be part of a big circle of people who meet up” according to Brogaard, they don’t have friends they’ve stuck with for a long time and have a deeper relationship with.

10. They won’t actually admit fault in their past relationships. 

“They might blame the other person or simply say ‘we weren’t a good match’ or ‘we were just really bad for each other’,” says Brogaard. They have yet to experience any crucial post-breakup epiphanies about their own patterned dating flaws.

11. Or they won’t even call a past relationship a relationship. 

That girl he saw exclusively for six months was completely casual, and he has no idea why she freaked out and deleted their whole Eurotrip album when he sent her a breakup text.

12. They had lots of short relationships or pretty shallow long-term ones. 

“If they had long relationships, they were usually not very committed,” says Brogaard. “Even when they were committed on the surface (for instance, engaged or married), you might discover that the two of them led very separate lives.”

13. They’ll keep saying they want to “take things slow” as an excuse. 

Of course, cautiously easing into a new relationship is a perfectly normal (and emotionally healthy!) thing to do. But you have to wonder if your relationship is moving anywhere at all. “People who are taking it slow will tend to move forward,” says Brogaard. “Commitment-phobes will tend to provide obstacles to any relationship progress.”

14. They always need more space than you’re giving them. 

Even the honeymoon period of seeing each other a lot scares them. For commitment-phobes trying to work on their dating issues, Brogaard recommends dating someone who “is very busy in their own life”, so that space is never an issue.

15. They complain about the pressure to be in a monogamous relationship a lot. 

Obviously, societal norms can be annoying, but if they talk negatively about marital expectations more often than any of the upsides of a strong partnership, it kind of shows that they deep down think monogamy never really works out.

16. You can tell that something about relationships clearly freaks them out, but they can’t articulate it. 

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, after all. Brogaard suggests possible questions to ask a commitment-phobe about their fears of relationships: “Is it that they impose on your need for alone time? Is it that you have intimacy issues? Is it that you set unrealistically high standards for potential partners? Once you realize what it is, you can work on that particular issue (for instance, make sure that your partner is willing to give you plenty of alone time, if that is what you are craving).”

Commitment-phobia is definitely curable if a person wants to work on it and explore why they think that ALL relationships will end up being disappointing. But that dude sending you another “haha :)” before ghosting for two days is probably not on that path right now.

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From Cosmopolitan by Julia Pugachevsky

 

How to Deal with Depression

Depression can drain your energy, hope and drive, making it hard to do what you need to feel better.But while overcoming depression isn’t easy, there are plenty of little things that can help you on the way to recovery.Many people make the fundamental mistake of presuming that depression is sadness, but the two are entirely different things.

While sadness is a normal human emotion that comes and goes and is usually caused by certain events, depression is a constant feeling of sadness and hopelessness.

And while the mental illness, which can last for weeks, months or even years, can’t be overcome through willpower alone, there are ways to beat it.

Even if your depression is severe and persistent, small steps like avoiding isolation, exercising and learning relaxation techniques can help ease the symptoms.

Here, life coach and clinical hypnotherapist Sloan Sheridan-Williams reveals her top tips for dealing with depression:

1. BREAK TASKS DOWN INTO SMALL STEPS A common symptom of depression is the feeling of being overwhelmed even by ordinary day-to-day tasks.Even getting out of bed and getting dressed can feel like a huge hurdle and people become more withdrawn and less active as depression becomes more severe.

The best way to overcome feeling overwhelmed is to break down the activity in small, easier-to-achieve chunks.

This can either be in the form of writing a step-by-step list of everything that needs to be done or mentally visualising all the actions that would take place to complete a task and then doing those actions in sequence, slowly but surely.

2. AVOID ISOLATION BY CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE

Depression evokes behaviours in people which tend to cut them off from the outside world. As a result they can become more withdrawn and less talkative or sociable.

This develops into a vicious cycle where the less time the depressed person spends with others, the less time they want to spend with others.

Connection is one of the six basic emotional needs and when depression takes hold it is often the need that gets most neglected in favour of satisfying the need for comfort through isolation.

When the first signs of depression appear it is important to spend more time cultivating relationships with family, loved ones and friends, for these are the very people who will be there for the individual as their support network.

Being able to talk about your problems makes dealing with them easier and therefore it is very helpful to identify the people you can trust and rely on.

3. GO FOR A WALK The correlation between exercise and feeling good has long been established.And feel-good hormones such as dopamine and endorphins which are produced during exercise can improve mood in individuals with mild to moderate depression.

It can be difficult to stay motivated when depressed so vigorous exercise such as running or going to the gym can be tough to keep up.

However even moderate exercise like a brisk walk has been shown to improve mood.

I suggest to my clients a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, five times a week as it has shown to have a significant positive influence on the symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

Even better is walking with someone you care about, as this will increase the level of love hormone oxytocin in the brain.

4. ACCEPT PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

The power of the mind is an amazing thing, and although pharmaceutical intervention is certainly beneficial in cases of severe depression, individuals can work towards overcoming mild or moderate depression faster if they start to take personal responsibility for their actions and behaviours.

This advice is not about “pulling yourself together” but more about what decisions need to be made by the individual to make them feel more powerful and happy.

We have all the answers we need inside of us and the challenge is to find ways to access those answers to help improve our quality of life.

It is good to establish the fact that you are the one who can make things happen rather than have things happen to you.

5. LEARN SOME RELAXTION TECHNIQUES 

Deep breathing and relaxing the muscles are the basis of all relaxation techniques and these two physiological actions work very effectively to help the psychological aspects of depression.

Breathing should be slow and rhythmic, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

Deep muscle relaxation is an excellent technique for everyone to master – not just those with depression – as it can be used anywhere to help deeply relax the body.

Each part of the body is tensed for a few seconds and then relaxed moving from the toes to the head systematically.

Yoga and tai chi are also great ways to help relax the body, and can provide the individual with much needed connection if done in a class.

6. CHALLENGE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS Negative thinking and obsessing on unhelpful thoughts are two common symptoms of depression.Shifting the focus of the mind is key to getting perspective on the situation and reclaiming your power.

When you take responsibility for your thoughts and turn such focus towards gratitude you will start to feel comforted about the more positive aspects of yourself and your environment.

It is important for the individual to identify any warped thoughts, like negative filtering and over-generalisation that are not representative of reality, by getting perspective.

7. IMPROVE YOUR DIET 

Eating four to six small meals throughout the day rather than two to three large ones can help stabilise blood sugar, giving you more energy to deal with the day and avoiding sugar crashes and cravings that will sap what energy you do have.

Reducing the amount of simple carbohydrates like refined sugar and white flour in your diet can also help keep blood sugar levels stable and therefore help improve mood when depressed.

Although we head straight for the biscuit tin when we are feeling blue, eating processed carbohydrate-rich foods like sweets, biscuits, cakes and white bread will leave you feeling sluggish and heavy.

Swap these foods for healthier wholegrain or low GI alternatives which will have less impact on blood sugar and also keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Some of my clients find eating a high protein, low carbohydrate diet can also help. Seeking a nutritionist’s advice can play a huge part in helping you seek the balance you need, both nutritionally and mentally.

8. TAKE AN OMEGA-3 SUPPLEMENTOmega-3 is an Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) which has a positive effect on mood when taken in high enough doses as a supplement.It is present in fish, shellfish, flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds so can easily be supplemented into a diet naturally should you so wish.

Alternatively, they are commonly taken as fish oil, krill oil or linseed oil supplements.

9. LIMIT ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE 

Alcohol and caffeine in the form of coffee are used by many who are depressed to purportedly help them through the day.

This form of self medication may seem like a useful coping strategy to some, however it is far from helpful as both alcohol and caffeine are psychoactive drugs which cross the blood-brain barrier and affect brain function resulting in changes in mood, thinking, behaviour, perception and consciousness.

Alcohol is a commonly abused substance within the general population and in cases of depression sufferers often use alcohol for its depressant effects.

Caffeine is known to be a stimulant used to keep awake and more alert.

Such seeking of comfort or stimuli to just make it through the day shows that a fundamental human emotional need is not being met by other means and so we look for a short-term fix which is not only temporary but hollow.

The short-term effects of these psychoactive drugs may appear beneficial but in the long term brain chemistry is in fact being altered and mood ultimately becomes more unstable which can make the symptoms of depression worse.

10. HAVE A REGULAR SLEEP TIME

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone but especially for those suffering from depression. Conversely too much sleep (over eight hours) can exacerbate depression.

As with most things it is about balance and everything in moderation.

Regular sleeping hours are essential in managing mood and having a regular bedtime and rise time is important too.

The depressed individual should be going to bed and waking up at the same time every day of the week including weekends.

Go back to basics, set alarms, create a routine and introduce calming rituals before bed.

Studies have shown that regular sleep routines have a positive effect on mood and actually reduce depressive symptoms over time.

Darkness and light are also very important in this. Other tricks that work for my clients include avoiding bright lights of TV, computers and overhead lights after 9pm as this allows you to get a better night’s sleep.

***

From EXPRESS by Laura Mitchell