In Defense of the Commitment Phobe

It seems like most of the articles you read about commitment phobic men begin with the presumption that the men are being irrational. Just using the word phobic puts it in the category of those who fear flying or public speaking or even going outside. I have never thought that was fair and prefer the word commitment resistant. However I suppose speaking of it as an irrational phobia brings solace to women that have had men run away for what seemed like no reason and maybe there is no harm in that. However let me at least give you three reasons why a fear of commitment is not irrational. 

The first and probably most obvious reason is that marriages fail at a high rate. If someone was afraid to fly because half of all flights ended in crashes would that person be called irrational? I don’t think so. Marriage should be approached with a healthy skepticism. 

The second reason is that there are fatal flaws in relationships that can rise up and eventually cause a problem. I was married 26 years and I can look back and easily identify two and maybe three fatal flaws that did us in. We were able to ignore them or work around them for a period of time but eventually they got the better of us. I don’t regret getting married and loved being able to raise a family and having good memories from it but I still can’t ignore why the marriage failed. Therefore isn’t it reasonable that someone would try to identify if there are any potentially fatal flaws in a relationship before proceeding into a marriage? I am not talking about small things here. I am referring more to those things that might be fundamental to our nature or our values. If it seems like they could be problematic at some point they probably will be. It is a nice notion that love conquers all but it is just not based in reality. 

The third reason is that making a marriage commitment forces us to look to the future and to make predictions about what might happen. That is a very difficult thing to do. I have become enamored with the LAT concept for relationships. This stands for Living Apart Together and it means that two people are in a long term relationship but have chosen to maintain separate residences. The main reason I like that, particularly for divorced people, is that it allows some individuality to be maintained and takes away some of the outside factors like money issues or divided loyalties because of children and family obligations from a prior marriage. Instead the two people can just focus on the relationship and their love for each other while still giving each other the space that most people really need but may not like to acknowledge. Looking back at my relationships I can honestly say that I would have rather been in a LAT relationship with some women that I couldn’t have lived with but who I found interesting and exciting instead of breaking up with them eventually because they demanded marriage. 

The other thing that is nice about a LAT arrangement is that the relationship is day to day. Most women I have talked to about day to day relationships usually come back with a retort along the lines that I am just looking for a fling. Although that could be the case for some it doesn’t have to be true and it certainly isn’t true in my case. My next post will go into this in more detail but for now it suffices to say that it means that you only have to think about tomorrow without having the pressure of trying to project what might happen in the future after the marriage ceremony. 

So let’s stop lumping all men that are resistant to commitment as having a phobia. I am sure that there are those at the far end of the spectrum who do have irrational fears of commitment but I don’t think there are as many as the general population believes there are. Instead let’s recognize a resistance to commitment as having a rational basis that should be acknowledged and approached with an open mind.  


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