Life Support: How to commit

Essential skills for the modern world

Feel the fear

For some, even the word is scary. Others harbour a deep-seated fear of commitment without even realising it. It is worth bearing in mind that this aversion doesn't just affect romantic relationships – it can be just as difficult to commit to a job or long-term plans as to a partner.

Spot the signs

If you find yourself coming up with reasons to leave jobs and relationships, it may be that you are really just afraid of cutting off your options and giving your all to something. Committing means admitting, either to yourself or others, that you have got something invested in an arrangement, and that you are no longer looking for an alternative job/relationship/ flat. This makes you vulnerable.

Work out the reasons

Men are often pilloried for their reluctance to commit, but in reality women can find it just as difficult to be tied down; for evidence, look no further than Cameron Diaz's confession this week that she is a "commitment-phobic". Try to work out why you are reluctant to commit. Genuinely believing your lover isn't right for you is a valid concern, while fears that the relationship won't work out, or thoughts that there might be someone better just around the corner are less sensible.

Learn to compromise

One thing that puts people off commitment is that it usually involves compromise. Perfectionists can often find this difficult, as it means accepting that a job or relationship isn't problem-free. Accept that life will always involve sacrifices and compromises and you will find committing a whole lot easier.

Think of the benefits

It's not all bad news. Weigh up the benefits of commitment – such as stability, and the sense of having invested in something – before bolting. The alternative, a life spent with one foot out of the door, isn't that appealing either.