Fear of commitment (and a wake up call)

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Committing to another person seems like one of the craziest things one can do. It’s not in our nature to spend our entire lives with only one person. Save for a few animals (penguins, lobsters, etc.), remaining with only one partner isn’t something that is natural to us at the core of our being. Commitment takes away freedom for personal exploration. It takes away our sense of independence and free will. It requires that we place the feelings of another above our own. Commitment removes the opportunity to be guiltlessly promiscuous.

Woman are much more drawn to the idea of commitment and marriage than men are. I’m not going to delve into the sociology and psychology of this fact, but I think that we can all agree that this is generally the case. Men are typically much less driven by relationships and commitment, and are many times guided by their sexual needs. I’ve heard more than one man say how he can’t figure out why a man would want to get married and have sex with the same woman for the rest of his life. I can’t say that I completely disagree with this point; sex with the same person has a tendency to become mundane over time. However, a life which is rich in promiscuity is one that is lacking in companionship, love, stability, and joy. How long can any of us carry on a life that is void of such lasting pleasures?

This topic is incredibly timely for me, as a few hours after writing my post last evening, Paul (no more initials here) called to talk about where things stand between us. He let me know that he struggles with commitment, and that he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship with me again. Upon questioning, I’ve found that this is something that is also tied to his interest in dating other people. Part of me wishes that I could sit here right now and write about how heartbroken I am… but I’m not. Instead I see how I am the person in this relationship who has changed. I see how I’ve spent the last eight months growing, changing, and becoming the best version of myself. I see where I projected these positive changes onto Paul, wanting so badly for him to have done the work to grow and change as well.  As I listened to his words last evening, I heard the same scared, confused man that I met years ago. I’ve managed to find happiness and contentment in myself and in my life; Paul has not, but will continue to search for these things in another person. My heart aches for him because of this.

It saddens me that I have been able to move to the proverbial finish line, where happiness exists and commitment is no longer a place that seems so uncomfortable, and that each time Paul approaches the same line, he questions it, becomes afraid of it, and turns to run the other way.

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