I thought it was encoded into female DNA that we were hard-wired to want commitment. I believed that every woman was supposed to be salivating to walk down the aisle and marry the man of her dreams. I kept waiting for that feeling to kick in for me. It's been 36 years and I'm still waiting. Getting married always seemed to be a logical decision rather than an emotional pull. Until I was slapped in the face with the truth that I am commitment-phobic.
But, my first thought was, women can't be commitment-phobic. It's a male trait.
Surprisingly, it affects women more than anyone talks about and it is becoming more common as women attain more financial independence.
I became aware of it after I ended a six-year relationship that I thought was headed towards marriage. I viewed marriage as a goal. It was the inevitable next step at my age. I thought I wanted a family because that is what you are supposed to want at this age. I was checking everything off my list of what I was supposed to have accomplished. Inside, I was silently terrified.
But, fortunately, I was never really in danger of walking down the aisle. I wasn't even close, even though we talked about it many times. He was more commitment-phobic than I was. We both found numerous ways to run away from a bigger responsibility, true intimacy and really committing to one another. We both had one foot in and one foot out the door. We were good friends who were in a relationship going nowhere, but pretending it was going somewhere. And, we did that until one of us finally decided the other deserved better, which is actually another commitment-phobic cop-out. Regardless, I breathed a sigh of relief.
I dated a couple of nice guys who seemed to really love my personality, showed me consistent attention and thought about the possibility of getting to know me better. But, I went running, screaming in the opposite direction. Instead, I set my sights on the guy who barely returned my phone calls and texts. He was distant, disappeared for days or weeks and he made sure I didn't feel special for too long. He wasn't giving up anything in his life for me. He was the one who made my stomach flip and the one I got excited over when he finally gave me a sliver of attention. He was safe. There's nothing a commitment-phobic loves more than a guy who has no intention of ever committing. It's a relationship of torturous relief.
Once I became aware of my commitment phobia, I began to examine all my major life decisions and I realized that I have avoided commitment in almost every single area. I don't own anything. I remember being shocked when I was at a job for seven years, because I usually left after two years. My living situation changed almost every two-to-four years like clockwork. I thought about buying a house, but the thought of a 30-year mortgage made me sweat. I haven't even committed to a cell phone plan. The only thing I've ever committed to was writing. I have done everything to create the appearance that I'm working towards huge commitments in my life while dancing around or subconsciously sabotaging them.
What am I scared of?
I'm terrified of making the wrong decision and feeling trapped in my life. I'm scared of choosing the wrong guy, the wrong career, and what if they upgrade my phone while I'm locked in a two-year plan? Two years is a long time. But, seriously, as long as I don't make a decision or a commitment, I feel free. But, in choosing freedom, I miss out on all the benefits of being committed. I also avoid all the other disappointments that can come from being committed. I think the biggest one is the fear of abandonment and rejection. In my mind, I can't be rejected if my heart is never fully invested.
I'm fine with being alone, but I loved having someone to come home to. I think there is a part of me that would flourish in commitment. And, as the years pass, I know it's less likely to happen. Commitment phobia may be an asset in your twenties because it's fine to be unstable while you are still figuring things out and suitors are plenty. But, as you move into your late thirties, it can become a liability.
Now, I realize the type of drama I have been creating in my life trying to avoid commitment. I always pointed the finger everywhere else. Now, I realize that I've been subconsciously choosing whatever didn't force me to seriously commit. I chose unavailable men, because they would never require too much of me. I chose situations that eventually would fall apart or become unstable. I chose insecurity instead of security. And, if it was making me happy, there would be absolutely no problem with that, but there is a part of me that craves security. And, at some point in your life, you have to commit to something if you want to truly benefit from it.
So, where does a commitment-phobic woman start? I think I'll try my cell phone plan and go from there.
What's two years, right?
I think I can handle it. Maybe.
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