In self-help literature, "fear of commitment" is the avoidance of long-term partnership or marriage. The concept is often much more pervasive, affecting school, work, and home life as well.
The term "commitmentphobia" was coined in the popular self-help book Men Who Can't Love in 1987. Following criticism of the perceived sexist idea that only men were commitmentphobic, the authors provided a more gender balanced model of commitmentphobia in a later work, He's Scared, She's Scared (1995).
The use of the term "fear" or "phobia" imparts an inherent linguistic bias. It recasts specific lifestyle decisions (such as bachelorhood vs. marriage, or a conscious decision to remain childfree by choice) implicitly as generalised, irrational phobias while failing to identify, describe or address an individual's specific motives. For instance, the men's rights movement, citing high divorce rates and expensive alimony and legal costs, would speak not in terms of "fear of commitment" but of "marriage strike" to reflect their position that non-marriage is an entirely valid, logical position based on rational consideration of the very real economic factors involved.