Sweaty palms. Racing heartbeat. Uncontrollable trembling. Numbness in your fingers and feet.
Did a spider just drop in front of your face? Did a clown just pass by? No, this is something much, much worse. More sinister. Something that can cause absolute devastation.
Just thinking of the word can cause goose bumps. The thought of settling down with someone, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health. Sure, it sounds nice…for everyone else. Why would the commitmentphobe want something like that? Unlike the romantics and idealists, they can see through the sunshine and roses. They’re realists. They know that for every up, there is a down. For every high, there is a low. Who needs that roller coaster ride? Why would you willingly set yourself up for that kind of emotional turmoil? Might as well have fun while you can.
According to (the ever accurate) Wikipedia, the term commitmentphobia was coined in the popular self-help book Men Who Can't Love in 1987. Wiki says “Fear of commitment in much popular literature refers to avoidance of long-term partnership and/or marriage but the problem is often much more pervasive, affecting school, work, and home life as well.”
What makes someone afraid to commit?
Committing to someone implies that you’ve grown up. That you’ve become an adult. You’ve taken responsibility for your life, and more—you’re responsible for someone else’s happiness. Someone else is counting on you to come through for them.
You may have been burned by commitment before. Gave your heart to the wrong person, who turned around and stomped on it on their way out the door. Gave part of your soul to someone who wasn’t in a place to accept it. Or maybe you just watched a couple you admired fall to pieces after dysfunction, infidelity, or some other type of betrayal. Your parents? Grandparents? Best friends?
Whatever the case may be, it makes it hard to put yourself out there, to dedicate yourself to something that might one day implode. But that doesn’t mean that commitment-phobic people can’t have relationships. Sometimes they go in hot and heavy, charming and dedicated, and ready to have a good time. But something happens along the way—a plan for the future, a mention of children, the signing of a lease—and they feel the pressure of actually committing to someone to someone weighing down on them. And that’s when the fear actually starts.
They start sabotaging their relationships. It starts with little things, like working later, or forgetting dates. Volunteering for long-term overseas assignments. Moving out of state. Anything to avoid having to take the plunge. Because if they aren’t around, they can’t commit. They can’t even commit to not committing, laying it on someone else’s shoulders.
After all, who needs someone to come home to at night? Someone who cares where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing? Someone who can make the bad day just fade away with their smile? Someone who thinks you matter. Who needs that?
Some people never do. They don’t want the typical married-with-kids scenario. Hell, maybe they don’t even want to share a living space with anyone—ever. There’s nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, some people can and do overcome their fear when they meet the right person. And some people are never scared at all. Maybe they just like flying solo.
Our new release, The Party Boy’s Guide to Dating a Geek, features two guys with very different commitment issues. Fee shies away from fast and loose, and Ash can’t see past tonight’s hookup and often lets himself be distracted from committing to the thing he actually wants most—opening a tattoo parlor with his oldest and closest friend. During the course of the book, they both have to get over their respective fears and preconceived notions. Maybe by the end they’ll discover that sometimes the idea of something is a hell of a lot scarier than the reality.
You can hook up with Piper at http://pipervaughn.com and Xara at http://xaraxanakas.com. We promise not to ask for your hand. ;)