Fear of commitment is an important predictor of singlehood, new study confirms

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Singlehood is a state experienced by a significant portion of the adult population. A recent study published in Evolutionary Psychological Science sheds light on what leads individuals to remain single, focusing on the role played by the fear of relationship commitment.

“Singlehood appears to be on the rise, but there is limited research in understanding its causes,” said study author Menelaos Apostolou, a Professor at the University of Nicosia.

Conducted online at private universities in the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, the study recruited 453 Turkish-speaking participants, with an average age in the early 30s. The study involved a questionnaire on Google Forms, encompassing six sections, including measures for mating performance, self-esteem, personality, fear of relationship commitment, demographic information, and, for those in relationships, relationship quality. Items in each section were presented in random order. Each section employed Likert scales for responses, with higher scores indicating higher levels of the construct being measured.

“In the current study we found that one reason why people are single is having higher fear of relationship commitment. Simply put, many people fear to commit to an intimate relationship, preferring to be single instead,” explained Apostolou.

“We also found that the fear of relationship commitment was predicted by mating performance, i.e., how well people do in the domain of mating. In particular, we found that poor mating performance was associated with higher fear of relationship commitment, which was associated with higher probability to be single than in an intimate relationship.”

Further, higher self-esteem, extraversion, and openness were associated with a greater likelihood of being in an intimate relationship, mediated by higher mating performance and lower fear of commitment.

Poor relationship quality was associated with a higher fear of relationship commitment, although none of the predictors directly affected relationship quality. Indirect effects of self-esteem and extraversion on fear of relationship commitment were observed through mating performance and relationship quality, indicating that higher self-esteem and extraversion can lead to lower fear of commitment by improving mating performance and relationship quality.

Overall, the study found evidence that mating performance, personality traits, and relationship quality play important roles in influencing fear of relationship commitment and, by extension, relationship status.

“There are many factors which are likely to predict fear of relationship commitment, that future studies need to identify,” the researcher said.

“Fear of relationship commitment can keep people from finding intimate partners and remain single instead. Singlehood is associated with several negative outcomes such as negative emotions including sadness and loneliness. Thus, it is a worthy endeavor to attempt to identify the various factors that lead people to develop a fear of relationship commitment and address them in order to reduce this fear.”

Apostolou noted the correlational nature of the study, explaining that the observed associations between variables of interest are not necessarily causal.

The study, “Fear of Relationship Commitment and Singlehood”, was authored by Menelaos Apostolou and Burcu Tekeş.

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