So apparently I have a commitment phobia. Or something like that…
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you a tale of deep soul searching and discovery. Or about a tearful, life-changing intervention from loved ones hoping to prevent me from becoming an old seamstress. (I hate cats.)
Nope. Today I was punched in the face with my committal issues after stumbling across an article online.
In the article, John M. Grohol the founder and CEO of Psych Central, discusses relationship anxiety and commitment phobia as a serious “problem” many people face. See, I can’t even call it a problem without the quotes. That seems like a bad sign…
“While you won’t find ‘commitment phobia’ in any diagnostic manual, it is a very real experience of anxiety and fear,” writes Grohol.
I’m a travel addict. I don’t even like committing to a flight that’s only a week away. So much can change in a week! I might love one destination and be excited about that destination.. but what if I discover another destination I like more?
Before you ask.. Yes, I’m hearing myself.
I mean, I knew this about myself in many areas of life — I just never connected it to the most obvious fear of commitment.
I’ve always known I wasn’t a fan of general-life-commitments. The thought of signing a lease causes me unspeakable anxiety. I still get a nervous twitch when I book a flight that leaves tomorrow. But — I have to admit — my brain also goes a bit haywire as soon as I start caring too much about another person.
Here I go again.. who calls it that? Too much. Can you care too much? If this was in relation to anything other than my romantic relations I’d be the first one to tell you that love is always a good thing.
“As long as you love him and you’re happy who cares about anything else,” — Me to everyone but myself
I once met a guy while traveling who, if I’m being perfectly honest, I fell in love with over the course of about 2 weeks. I mean, I remember telling him multiple times “I love who you are as a person”. And I meant it.
And then, when we left each other, I told him it would be best for us to never speak again.
(Yes, I’m still hearing myself.)
Guys.. He and I lived in the same country and neither of us were secretly married with kids. The only reason I had for us to never talk again seems pretty clear in retrospect.
“People with a commitment phobia long and want a long-term connection with another person, but their overwhelming anxiety prevents them from staying in any relationship for too long,” continues Grohol.
Right. Keep it coming John M. Grohol… I can handle it.
He adds this bit of explanation like hitting a nail on my head: “Some may also just have a difficult time resolving the inherent conflict of romantic relationships — the craving of intimacy while wanting to retain their own individuality and freedom.”
So there you have it. I have a (hopefully) low-grade case of commitment phobia.
According to John I should check out some online support groups or read a self-help book.
Maybe I’ll start by not pushing away the next person I love with the same gusto I’d push Hitler off the top of the Empire State Building.
Just Kidding.. but I did come up with a few of my own suggestions to help get past the fear and anxiety that comes with relationships:
Figure Out if You Actually Want One
Of course you’re going to experience relationship anxiety if you’re not even dating for the right reasons. If you’re only dating because you’re sick of your Aunt Susan badgering you about procreating, you’re never going to be happy in a relationship.
Don’t Judge Your Anxiety
This is true for everything in life, but the anxiety and emotions that stem from letting down your walls tend to be particularly strong. The second I feel a negative emotion I either suppress it, or I judge myself (pretty severely), for being anything besides happy. And when I do, I amplify the anxiety by giving it my mental energy.
Negative emotions happen. And anxiety in relationships is normal. Let it come, don’t judge it, don’t try to analyze it. Simply be a passive observer to the anxiety and it will slowly show itself out.
I got to be on the other end of commitophobia recently. We were in love. I emphasize the we, because I freaking know he loved me, okay? And same same. But as soon as our relationship got its first semblance of complication he bolted. Like, peace out bro.
I was sad, sure. But I mostly felt sorry for him.
“I just feel bad for him that he’s pushing away something that was so wonderful simply because he’s scared,” I told my friends.
(Apparently it’s easier to see faults in others than it is in ourselves).
Again, this is a remedy for so many of life’s problems. But when you’re with the person you care about, don’t think about the past and don’t think about the future. Think about listening to them, communicating with them, and enjoying the time you’re spending together right now.
The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.
Originally published at medium.com