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I think most people, especially men, assume that all women are naturally wired for commitment. They think we all sit in our rooms, plotting ways to "lock it down" with the man of our dreams, and drooling over the idea of walking down the aisle. Well, that's not always the case.
Here's the cold, hard truth: I am 32 years old and terrified of commitment.
That may surprise most people that know me because it doesn't exactly fall in line with the type of person I am. I am incredibly dedicated and loyal, but in all honesty, I have always had a hard time with commitment.
Commitment: just the word alone makes me start to sweat. I feel the walls beginning to close in around me and my throat gets tight. I avoid it at all costs. I always have. I don't like to feel tied into things. I hate making plans more than a week in advance. The idea of buying a home and being locked into a mortgage for 30 years is more than terrifying. Hell, I don't even like to sign a contract for a 2-year cell phone plan.
As far as relationships go, I've always found myself in one of three situations.
The first scenario involves me being attracted to someone completely unavailable. They are usually distant, not interested, or just as commitment-phobic as I am. I know this person has no intention of commitment, but it's safe. It becomes a cycle of torture and self-depracating excuses. We both have one foot in and one foot out. The relationship never moves past a certain point and I convince myself that this is what I want until one of us finally moves on.
The second scenario includes someone who is attracted to me, shows interest in the things I do and wants to jump right into things. He jumps through hoops and shows me attention, but to me it only feels like I can't get away from it. I don't give it a chance. I back away immediately before it can even begin. It becomes too much, too soon and I stop it where it stands. And the relief I feel when it's over is a crazy type of high.
Finally, the third scenario is what typically happens and what I've spent most of my life doing: getting excited by the chase, but being fearful of the next step. I love the excitement in the beginning of getting to know someone and thinking "this may be it." You find common ground and interests. You challenge each other in wonderful ways. There is passion and desire, nervousness, butterflies, and constant goofy smiles plastered on faces. But when it begins to move into something real, I feel that suffocating feeling return. I panic and obsess and feel like I'm being handcuffed. And so I do the one thing I have always done, I run away. I self-sabotage a good thing. I push the person away over and over. I make excuses why it won't work. I tell him we're better off as friends. I convince myself that he deserves better. But when it's over, my heart is broken and I can't understand what it is that I am so afraid of.
What is it about commitment that is so terrifying for me?
It's obviously based in fear, but fear of what? I've been avoiding commitment in all areas of my life for years. I hate the idea of making the wrong decision for myself and feeling trapped. I hate the idea of being locked into something that makes me happy now, but that I may not want down the road. The freedom of this way of life can be empowering in some ways, but it's also very lonely. I end up missing out.
I realize now that it's the simple fear of abandonment. I don't ever have to feel rejected if I never fully give my heart away. I don't have to feel embarrassed for expressing what I want if I never allow myself to be vulnerable.
Just this past year, I finally opened myself up to the idea of commitment to one person and one person only. For the first time in my life, I wanted to commit. I was honest about my fears and my feelings. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. Unfortunately, things didn't turn out the way I wanted them to. I was rejected in a huge way, but it helped me face the fears that I've spent so long running away from.
I know now that there's a huge part of me that craves stability and security in a way I never recognized before. I see that all of my fears of commitment and abandonment turn into self-fulfilling prophecies and leave me feeling deeply unhappy. And I've learned that rejection sucks. It hurts in ways that are difficult to put into words, but the truth is, it doesn't kill you.
There comes a time in your life where you recognize that you have to commit in order to move forward and grow. If you want to reap the benefits, you have to be willing to face the fear. I don't want to run away any more. I'm learning to face my fears head on. I'm letting go of the familiar feelings of panic, not because I am no longer afraid, but because I refuse to allow the fear to hold me back any longer.