I am a commitment phobic. There I said it. I am not sure I like the word phobic because to be afraid of an institution that fails at least half the time doesn’t seem unreasonable. However I am often told I am one so I will accept it.
I wasn’t always this way. I got married when I was 22. I proposed based on the fact that things were going well with my girlfriend and I was graduating from college so I thought we should either break up or get married and marriage seemed the logical choice. It seems odd looking back that I didn’t analyze the situation more carefully. I have always been highly analytical but I guess at that time I didn’t apply that skill or curse, however you want to think of it, to relationships. However, it turned out well and I was happy during most of my marriage.
I probably became a commitment phobic the day I learned of my wife’s affair. Suddenly I had to turn my analytical skills toward my marriage. It was an excruciating process that resulted in us getting a divorce.
I would like to be in a committed relationship. There is something missing without it. I am not too keen on marriage as an institution and don’t see it as important in a relationship but I can see why it is still valued by some. The problem I suppose is that my whole approach to relationships has changed.
One of the things I have learned about myself is that I can’t be in a relationship that has marriage as a firm goal. I am at my most relaxed if I can comfortably say that I don’t ever want to get married even though I could see that happening someday if the relationship is strong. If a woman says to me that she wants marriage and wants to be with someone that has that as a goal I become a complete mess.
What happens is that my analytical part completely takes over. No longer can I relax and just let the relationship evolve. Instead I evaluate everything about the relationship and how it might affect other parts of my life. One of the common compaints you hear about commitment phobics is that they change for entirely no reason. That is not true. We change because our thoughts lead us down a path to an end result we don’t like.
I don’t think women understand what we think about. I am sure not all women are the same but it seems like the ones I have met think that if you love someone then it will move naturally to at least living together and possibly marriage.
I don’t think that way and most men I know don’t either. Love is a nice starting point but it really isn’t part of a living together decision. As I have gotten older I have become very sensitive to any appearance of a fatal flaw that could ruin the relationship. I consider relationships to be very fragile and the last thing I want is to be trapped living together, or in a marriage, if the relationship fails.
Often women think of commitment phobics as narcissists uncaring about their feelings. I don’t think this is true in most cases. In my case empathy can get in the way. Let me give you an example.
In my first relationship after my divorce I was very happy until the day I started talking about how stupid second marriages were. I had never really discussed goals with my girlfriend and was surprised to hear her say she not only wanted to get married but also wanted a baby. This put me immediately into analytical mode and was the beginning of the end. Also I realized that her living conditions were not great and with her low paying job marriage could improve her life. I felt tremendous pressure to either give her what she wanted or to get out of her way so she could find someone that could. It was a hard decision but I broke up with her. Of course she told me that I didn’t love her enough which baffled me at the time, but it goes back to women thinking love equals marriage.
I had a similar situation a few years later. I met a woman online and she also had a goal of marriage and a baby. I decided not to meet her in person but she met someone later who simply told her that he didn’t want anymore children and they got married anyway. That has made me realize that perhaps I end up doing too much thinking for women and maybe I should focus more on saying what I want and what my boundaries are. I find that easier said than done and it would probably still bother me if I knew I was keeping someone from fulfilling their dreams, particularly when it comes to children.
The closest I probably came to marriage was when I was with the Narcissistic ex girlfriend I have talked about in earlier posts. I really wanted to make that relationship work and believe that if she could have been just a little softer, had more empathy, and been less jealous it could have worked. However she could not change and didn’t want to. Once I finally accepted it I moved on but in many ways that relationship took more out of me than my divorce did.
So now I am older and after several years of single life I am ready for a relationship in many ways. Unfortunately I am even more wary and less willing to make a plunge that could make my life more complicated. My women friends like to say that I just haven’t met the right person and I will make a commitment if I love someone enough. I don’t say anything but that way of thinking still baffles me.
I suppose for any woman that read this just know that men think differently about commitment than you do. They probably want a commitment but they want to know that their lives will be impacted in a positive way. They will likely struggle and analyze which is not a direct reflection on you or the relationship. Obviously if you have a firm goal and a firm timetable you need to do what you must but to the extent you can take the pressure off, and if he is the man you want, then it is in your best interest to do so.