Created By: paycheckgurl on July 9, 2013 Last Edited By: paycheckgurl on July 18, 2013
Troped

Commitment Issues

A character that is terrified of being in a committed, monogamous relationship. (Hats, please?)

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Index: Character Flaw Index, Love Tropes, Unrequited Love Tropes, This Index Is Not My Girlfriend, Characterization Tropes
"You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear."
--Sammy Davis, Jr.
Oh Crap!

Also known as Commitmentphobia, a character with commitment issues is just that, someone that for whatever reason, does not want to settle down with a Love Interest. Perhaps they think that being Happily Married is inherently boring and unadventurous, they believe they're still not old enough to be serious yet, their issues stem from observing the dysfunctional relationship their parents had, being a swinger is just too much fun, or maybe they're Really 700 Years Old and are afraid that by committing they'll out live the person they love. Whatever the reason, don't expect these types to jump into a Relationship Upgrade anytime soon. A possible justification for a Will They or Won't They? series dragging out is if part (or both) of the main couple have this vice as it WILL take characters with commitment issues forever to get to They Do.

The "I Love You" Stigma is a Sub-Trope and common symptom of this problem.

Compare Insecure Love Interest, where the love interest's damage is specifically they don't think themselves worthy, Runaway Bride (which may or may not be the end result of this trope) and The Ditherer who cannot be complied with any kind of commitment, showing immaturity.

Truth in Television for a lot of people.

Has nothing to with Commitment Anxiety which is about the fear of starting a Long Runner.

Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  • Haruka in Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu, despite being ostensibly in a relationship with Akiho, keeps applying Skinship Grope on other girls, much to Akiho's anguish. Eventually, Akiho makes it abundantly clear that she doesn't like it, and Haruka stops. While not necessarily afraid of commitment, until then Haruka didn't see a need for it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comics]]
  • Mary Jane Watson of Spider-Man fame had this vice because of the bad relationships both her parents and her sister and brother-in-law had. Peter proposed to her about three times before she said yes. And then...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
  • A central focus of the film Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The main characters cheat, lie, and even enter a polygamous relationship that's doomed to fail instead of finding and settling down with a single person in a healthy relationship. In the end the film is a Shoot The Shaggy Dog Story in that the main characters remain the same people and their experience in no way helps them with their issues in the future.
  • Uncle Buck has this in regards to his relationship with his girlfriend, the car repair business owing Chanice. It's just one of several ways he's presented as being unreliable at the beginning of the film.
  • Runaway Bride is about a woman with commitment issues that has almost been married three times, but has runaway from the wedding each time because of her fear (in addition to leaving a long list of boyfriends that never even made it to the engagement stage). Considering the film's genre it's not a spoiler to reveal by the end of film she finds someone to finally settle down with.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • shows up in Dave Barry's works, notably Dave Barry's Complete Guide To Guys, where men are afraid that they'll get in a relationship and get married and have kids and get old and one day they'll be walking down the beach and see a single guy relaxing in a hot tub with several supermodels and invite him and he won't be able to join them AAAIIIEEEEE!! He notes that to get the same amount of love and devotion with more reliability than a man, you might as well get a dog.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Penny has this problem in regards to her relationship with Leonard. The couple eventually works through it by Leonard putting the power to propose marriage in Penny's hands, so she won't have the weight of it on her shoulders until she decides she's ready.
    • From the same show, Sheldon struggles with committing to Amy and then from there moving forward in their relationship. In his case, the issue stems from having previously thought of himself as a Celibate Eccentric Genius who is above time wasting romantic notions, and having an aversion to change. In one episode both Leonard and Amy decide to move too fast for their partners and put moving in on the table. Sheldon and Penny are forced to confide their hesitations about it to each other.
  • Torch Wood's Captain Jack Harkness has this, primarily of the afraid-of-outliving-love-interest variety.
  • Men of a Certain Age has this as Terry's main problem to overcome. He's a middle aged man that still goes through multiple girls like he's a young twenty something.
  • Friends: It's one of Chandler Bing's defining traits. His parents had a messy divorce, and he's unable to trust, commit and be happy. He had many dates and girlfriends, but he always broke up with them over minor issues. He was also stuck in unhappy relationships with girls like Janice who was caring and in love with him, but a fairly insufferable woman, and he thought he couldn't do better and that she's his only chance for a long-term relationship. He freaked out several times that he's destined to die alone. He later got together with one of his best friends Monica and they had a stable, loving relationship, but he still had several crises when he either got cold feet or thought that a minor argument means they are breaking up for good.
  • Drake from Drake & Josh goes through a different Girl of the Week every episode (sometimes he'll go through multiple girls in the same episode). He's been shown to be afraid of being steady for too long and will often get bored with his current girlfriend very quickly (possibly the only exception is Carly, the record store worker, and even she disappears eventually). When his brother is struggling with The "I Love You" Stigma and asks him for advice, Drake's immediate response is that saying I love you is a trap.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
  • In Bell Book and Candle, after Shep and Gillian have been close for two weeks, he asks her when they are going to get married, and she recoils at the suggestion. They point out that they're reversing the usual male and female roles in this kind of argument. Her problem is that she would have to give up being a witch, but that's a secret she doesn't want to divulge to him yet.
  • Nathan in Guys and Dolls has been engaged to Adelaide for over a decade.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • In the The Sims 3 this a trait you can give one of your Sims. Sims that have it will often get the wish to break up with whomever they're romantic with, and for other Sims to get a Relationship Upgrade with them the relationship meter must be particularly high. There is also a book entitled "Commitment Issues" Sims can read.
  • Some people cite Sonic the Hedgehog's aversion to romance as being scared of settling down and giving up his free and adventurous lifestyle.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
  • Rayne in Least I Could Do. At first he is presented as an unapologetic Jerk Ass womanizer, with little to no desire to ever be in a serious relationship. As the strip goes it delves into some Hidden Depths revealing his issues with commitment actually aren't as straight forward and shallow as they are initially presented.
  • It's implied Riff might have this hang up in Sluggy Freelance, although it could also be a combination of attracting crazies (even the ones he remains friends with) and not being the best at expressing himself.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • Ginger Foutley in As Told by Ginger expresses this doubt in the finale. Ginger's mother is getting remarried, and Ginger's new boyfriend Orion is pressuring her to go steady, but Ginger doesn't want to because she doesn't feel comfortable. She wonders if this is wrong, but her friends suggest that she has commitment anxiety due to her parents being Amicably Divorced and because she once dated her best friend Darren. She and Darren had since broken up after he showed interest in Simone and felt guilty about two-timing Ginger. She also wonders how her mother could take getting remarried after being divorced once, but her mother reassures her that while nothing is certain, she's happy to remarry anyway.
  • One of the plot threads of Despicable Me 2; Gru is shown several times having problems romantically relating to women, though at one point he goes on a date with a Paris Hilton Expy (a date which goes disastrously wrong, to his evident relief). At the end of the movie, he marries his colleague Lucy.
[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • July 9, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    • Ginger Foutley in As Told By Ginger expresses this doubt in the finale. Ginger's mother is getting remarried, and Ginger's new boyfriend Orion is pressuring her to go steady, but Ginger doesn't want to because she doesn't feel comfortable. She wonders if this is wrong, but her friends suggest that she has commitment anxiety due to her parents being Amicably Divorced and because she once dated her best friend Darren. She and Darren had since broken up after he showed interest in Simone and felt guilty about two-timing Ginger. She also wonders how her mother could take getting remarried after being divorced once, but her mother reassures her that while nothing is certain, she's happy to remarry anyway.
  • July 9, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    ^ Good one. Added.
  • July 9, 2013
    313Bluestreak
    Would this be a part of the Character Flaw Index?
  • July 9, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Probably.
  • July 10, 2013
    XFllo
    live action TV

    • Friends: It's one of Chandler Bing's defining traits. His parents had a messy divorce, and he's unable to trust, commit and be happy. He had many dates and girlfriends, but he always broke up with them over minor issues. He was also stuck in unhappy relationships with girls like Janice who was caring and in love with him, but a fairly insufferable woman, and he thought he couldn't do better and that she's his only chance for a long-term relationship. He freaked out several times that he's destined to die alone. He later got together with one of his best friends Monica and they had a stable, loving relationship, but he still had several crises when he either got cold feet or thought that a minor argument means they are breaking up.


    Some of your examples need context, e.g. Film.Vicky Cristina Barcelona. (See Zero Context Example)

    Also, if you click on the yellow pencil icon, you can copy the examples from the discussion with wiki mark-up. I see you added As Told By Ginger in plain text.
  • July 10, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work titles.
  • July 10, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Examples have been expanded upon, some possible indexes have been listed on the top, fixed the Wiki words on As Told By Ginger Example, and some more examples have been added. We're at twelve now (we only need a minimum of six, right?). Thanks for the tips (my first time working on a YKTTW if weren't obvious).
  • July 10, 2013
    Trueman001
    This is one of the plot threads of Despicable Me 2; Gru is shown several times having problems romantically relating to women, though at one point he goes on a date with a Paris Hilton Expy (a date which goes disastrously wrong, to his evident relief). At the end of the movie, he marries his colleague Lucy.

    Incidentally, one only needs three examples minimum to launch a YKTTW. Casabianca, which was launched ages ago, has only seven (two of which were recently added) to this day.
  • July 10, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    huh. I always assumed the shorter trope lists were left overs from before the YKTTW...
  • July 10, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Would the Despicable Me example be western animation or film?
  • July 10, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    Here's another idea for a page quote:
    "You know? I don't mind getting married and having babies. It's no big deal. I just don't want to do it TOMORROW!"
    Psychostick, "Throwin' Down"
  • July 10, 2013
    Trueman001
    That is a good point, and I think is a major problem with this wiki; some people seem to regard "animation" as being a synonym for "(moving) cartoon", and file any and all other animation techniques (stop-motion, marionette, glove-puppetry, CGI etc.) under "film". This results in CGI in particular appearing under "Film" or "Western Animation" according to the whim of the editor, even for the same work on different pages.

    My own view is that animation is animation, and should be listed as such. I also think that this issue should be taken to the forums as it's an important one.
  • July 10, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Picture is a placeholder until I find a better one.
  • July 10, 2013
    MorganWick
    You technically only need three examples, but tropes with that few tend to languish until being discovered by TRS.
  • July 11, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    I can't decide if the Runaway Bride trope would be a sub trope or not. A lot of examples stem less from this and more from just having a Disposable Fiance and someone they'd rather be with instead, so for now I have it listed as "compare".
  • July 11, 2013
    Koveras
    • Haruka in Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu, despite being ostensibly in a relationship with Akiho, keeps applying Skinship Grope on other girls, much to Akiho's anguish. Eventually, Akiho makes it abundantly clear that she doesn't like it, and Haruka stops.
  • July 11, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Was that specifically because Haruka was afraid of commitment though?
  • July 11, 2013
    Koveras
    Not afraid per se, she just saw no need for commitment until Akiho got the point across to her.
  • July 11, 2013
    randomsurfer
    @Trueman001: Casabianca, being a work, has different rules than tropes.
  • July 12, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Bump.
  • July 13, 2013
    XFllo
    I made a small edit regarding Example Indentation. Please note that:

    THIS IS INCORRECT (but one of the most common mistakes on the wiki):
    • Show A: Example 1
      • Example 2

    This is CORRECT Example Indentation:
    • Show A:
      • Example 1.
      • Example 2.
  • July 14, 2013
    Prfnoff
    Theatre
    • In Bell Book And Candle, after Shep and Gillian have been close for two weeks, he asks her when they are going to get married, and she recoils at the suggestion. They point out that they're reversing the usual male and female roles in this kind of argument. Her problem is that she would have to give up being a witch, but that's a secret she doesn't want to divulge to him yet.
  • July 16, 2013
    Chabal2
    Literature: shows up in Dave Barry's works, notably Dave Barry's Complete Guide To Guys, where men are afraid that they'll get in a relationship and get married and have kids and get old and one day they'll be walking down the beach and see a single guy relaxing in a hot tub with several supermodels and invite him and he won't be able to join them AAAIIIEEEEE!! He notes that to get the same amount of love and devotion with more reliability than a man, you might as well get a dog.
  • July 16, 2013
    DAN004
    Compare The Ditherer who cannot be complied with any kind of commitment, showing immaturity.
  • July 16, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Picture now better demonstrates trope, although I had some issues re-sizing it (I only have MS Paint available to me, the original here: http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating/diagnosing-commitment-phobia/#.UeYYh42cfCs). Also the caption "Oh crap! went below the quote for some reason...is that a common YKTTW quirk or did I mess up the formatting somehow?
  • July 18, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Bump
  • July 18, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Theatre
    • Nathan in Guys And Dolls has been engaged to Adelaide for over a decade.
  • July 18, 2013
    SneakySquirrel
  • July 18, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Looks like five hats, can I go ahead and launch then?
  • July 18, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    By which I mean I'm a noob at this and I'm afraid of screwing it up....
  • July 18, 2013
    XFllo
    All looks very good and as far as I'm concerned, you may indeed launch it. Good job working on this trope!

    Only next time you run a trope through YKTTW, don't add the tag Up For Grabs if you intend to launch it yourself. This one means you don't want to take care of the draft and polish it up for launching yourself, but that you hope somebody else will do it instead of you.

    Also the current picture illustrates the trope well, but it's extremely blurry. I suggest you open a thread in Image Pickin' forum. (It's one of my favourite places on this wiki and usually great fun.)

    Also if you are still a newbie (judging from your saying that this is your first YKTTW), don't forget to cross-wick the trope. It means that you should list the trope on the work's pages. That way more people can learn about the trope and add more examples.
  • July 18, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Thanks:) I have the original picture linked above, but I ran into some trouble editing it down. Should I still bring it to Image Pickin' if I just need to find someone with cropping software that's better than MS Paint? The original pic has good resolution, it's just long.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=z7zht7kd7fo7prprg1ne6kg7&trope=CommitmentIssues