Commitment-phobia may seem like an urban myth to some and to others, a line that men use as the main reason that they don’t want to be in a serious relationship. According to Wikipedia, “Commitment-phobia is often most strongly apparent in romantic life. Generally, commitment-phobic people claim that they are eager to find a lasting romantic attachment and get married, yet they fail to find appropriate partners and maintain long lasting connections. Ironically, in these romantic relationships, the commitment-phobic partner craves what he/she fears most: love and connection. This paradoxical craving for a frightening reality leads to a confusing and destructive pattern of seduction and rejection. The results are emotionally devastating.” To be quite honest, I believe that this is as much a true and real phobia as being afraid of Clowns or the number 13. (Coulrophobia and Triskaidekaphobia, respectfully; I guess the closest thing in existence, according to The Phobia List [http://phobialist.com/] anyway, would be Gamophobia, or the Fear of Marriage.)
I have in recent months come to realize that I may or may not be a commitment-phobe. I really enjoy the thought of spending time with someone in a romantic relationship, but much like swimming too far out in the ocean, I feel like I will get to a point where I start flailing my arms and try to head back to shore. With several failed relationships under my belt, I think it’s only safe to say that I have a series of trust issues that therapists in years to come will have a field day with. Once I hit the 2 years mark in a relationship, things start to take a turn for the worse and I’m looking for an escape route. I’m afraid that if I find someone that really makes me happy and who I make really happy and we enjoy each others company, that once I hit that milestone, I’m going to panic and run. Which pretty much rules out marriage – and I already have an inherent fear of that.
With so many marriages going sour in the world around me, what hope is there that this archaic institution actually works and serves a valuable purpose in one’s life? And those who do remain married, how does their happiness rate now once the inevitable “newlywed period” ends? I guess that leads to the other part of the Wikipedia article, which says “The key to understanding commitment-phobia is recognizing that such behavior is rooted in fear—fear of lost options or fear of making poor decisions. The commitment-phobic mind sees decisions as permanent, opening the possibility of being caged or trapped forever with no means of escape” I suppose there are people who are happily married, who don’t cheat on their partners, who live to tell the tale so to speak, to prove that it’s possible to get that fairy tale ending. Is it healthy that I should view marriage as a form of imprisonment? Probably not, but people cheat, people lie, people fight, and people get bored. Wouldn’t you be afraid of these things too? (And not even of your partner committing any of those things, but of yourself being the one to falter.) Here you are, bound by this marriage contract, death do you part and all that jazz and you just wake up one morning ten years later and look over at that lump of flesh in bed next to you and think, “My god, what I am doing here, with them, when I could be doing XYZ-else?”
I have friends that are obsessed with marriage, which is probably a thinly-veiled obsession with having a wedding, really. (Actually, it’s probably societal norms being forced on girls from a young age that leads to this obsession with weddings – and those same norms that equate being married with the big Cinderella wedding to begin with.) What’s the big hoopla? You love a person so much you want to spend the rest of your life with them (at least that's how you feel now, anyway). Who says you need to get married to feel that way? Who says you need to spend $150 a plate on some crappy catering hall food and another couple hundred on tacky wedding favors, a local cover band, and a dress you’ll wear one day in your life in order to feel that way? Just live. Just be. My friend complained that she still didn’t have a ring on her finger; I told her what is this, 1940? You want to be married so bad, ask him. Is there a law that says he needs to ask you and that you need a ring to be married? No – City Hall just wants x amount of money for the marriage license and they’ll marry you right there on the spot. Boom! Done! You’re married! Happy now? Has anything really changed? (Except your name if you’ve decided to) No – You’re still the same two people, except you are now legally bound to each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives.
I’m not knocking marriage, so please don’t take what I’m saying the wrong way. I’m just saying it works for some people obviously, but I don’t think that I’m one of them. Is this due to my commitment-phobia? Yes, more than likely. Is marriage something you have to work at every day? This is what I hear from people. Relationships in general are work though, too. Except obviously, a relationship is more open-ended and there’s less paperwork and legal ramifications involved if you decide to end it later on down the road. Would I be a potential “Runaway Bride”? Probably, but I’d also probably be that person who, five years into a relationship where you are living together and merging itunes libraries with the other person and sharing toothbrushes, would pack a bag in the middle of the night, and leave an “I’m sorry, I can’t do this anymore” post-it on the nightstand. Honestly, I just want someone who makes me happy (and not want to strangle them) and someone who I make happy (and doesn’t cheat on me or treat me like crap) and we’re both happy making each other happy and living our lives and not worrying about anniversaries or wedding invitations or anything other than just living day to day, in the moment. (And to make it past the two year itch)