No one grows up expecting to become a commitment phobe. We usually march through childhood and adolescence, assuming that we'll go the whole "love, marriage, baby carriage" traditional commitment route, like most of the adults we knew growing up did. But somewhere along the line — right around when we're figuring out things about ourselves, like whether we really like spicy food, or have just been saying that to impress people — some of us realize that we're people who fear commitment.
But we're not bad people, I swear! We're just scared people! Commitment phobes are scared of everything — maturity, emotional pain, responsibility, turning into our parents, sharing a Netflix queue and ruining all of our recommendations — and we express that fear by using intellect and subterfuge to dodge the hallmarks of committed dating. And if a commitment phobe has hurt you at some point in your dating life (which has almost definitely happened), I apologize on behalf of us all. We don't do it on purpose! We just hear about a wedding you're invited to six months from now, and we go into primal "fight or flight" mode, like when people get chased by bears.
But contrary to the bad wrap we've gotten, commitment phobes don't always spend our entire lives single, living in swinging bachelorette pads and cursing George Clooney for betraying our people. Commitment phobes fall in love, get married, and even have families...we just do it all while still having a back-up plan about what we'll do if things don't work out ("I can become...a long-haul trucker!").
So pity us, fear us, do whatever you like...but since you're going to encounter at least one of us in your dating life, do yourself a favor, and familiarize yourself with the 15 classic commitment phobe lines below. Oh, and if you want to send condolence letters to my poor boyfriend, who has been forced to live through every single idiotic phrase on this list, please send them care of this website.
1. "SORRY I DIDN'T ____! I JUST GOT REALLY BUSY WITH WORK!"
I'm sorry I didn't reply to your texts or remember our anniversary! Work has just been a mess! Oh, you don't consider spending 40 hours a week doing bong hits on a couch I found on the curb, and then trying to play "Come As You Are" on an out-of-tune acoustic guitar "work"? Well, I'm glad no one ever said that to KURT COBAIN! Why are you always trying to clip my wings??!
2. "UM, I DON'T KNOW WHERE MY BOY/ GIRLFRIEND IS TONIGHT, WHY WOULD I?"
I'm not, like, his mother! Why do I have to know where he is every second of every day? He'll make it to this christening when he makes it, Grandma!
3. "I WOULD LOVE TO MEET YOUR FOLKS, BUT I HAVE A THING TO GO TO THAT NIGHT."
Stop guilt-tripping me! You know that whatever day your parents are visiting is always my busiest work day of the year!
4. "MY EX AND I BROKE UP BECAUSE S/HE WAS CRAZY"
You should have seen the way he freaked out when I introduced him as "my friend" at my office Christmas party, after we'd only been dating for a year! Like, stalk much?
5. "I DO LOVE YOU, IT'S JUST..."
...I always pictured myself as being more of a freewheeling bachelorette type old lady/ I'm afraid I'll get hurt/ I've been hurt before/ I need to buy a motorcycle and explore the 'real' America before I can even think about settling down in a relationship.
6. "WE SHOULD MAINTAIN SEPARATE THANKSGIVINGS/ CHRISTMASES FOR PRACTICAL REASONS."
You know, just because I like walnut stuffing and you like sausage stuffing! And how would we decide which one to make? I mean, who needs to put that kind of strain on our relationship?
7. "IF YOU MOVE IN, WE'LL PROBABLY JUST GET SICK OF EACH OTHER."
Like, Doreen is my roommate now, and I totally hate her. And she doesn't even do anything that bad! And just imagine how much we might end up hating each other if I had to listen to your stupid humming all day long...what? Nothing!
8. "LET'S JUST LIVE IN THE NOW!"
Why ruin this perfectly beautiful thing we have by getting hung up on a bunch of boring stuff like "I need to have some sense of security about the future" and "I want to make sure that I have kids while there's still time" and "We've been dating for four years and I really need to get in on your health insurance"?
9. "WHY ARE JIM AND CLAIRE GETTING MARRIED NOW? WE HAVE OUR WHOLE LIVES TO GET MARRIED!"
Ugh, everyone at this wedding is going to ask us why we're not married yet. What was that? Why aren't we married yet? Uh...oh my god, look over there! No, really look! It's Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi! Oh, no, wait, it was just a trick of the light. Now, what were we talking about? Scandal, right?
10. "I'M REALLY BAD AROUND PARENTS, I THINK YOUR PARENTS Will BE HAPPIER NOT MEETING ME."
And also, why do your parents keep asking to meet the girl you've only been dating for two years? That sounds awful clingy to me, personally. You need to cut the umbilical cord!
11. "WE CAN JUST HAVE A COMMON LAW MARRIAGE, LIKE GOLDIE HAWN AND KURT RUSSELL!"
Damn you, Brangelina and Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, for ruining the two really good examples of cool-seeming common law marriages. God, when was the last time you even thought about Goldie Hawn when you weren't trying to convince your partner to not get married or watching The First Wives Club on TBS?
12. "I FEEL LIKE THINGS ARE MOVING REALLY QUICKLY HERE."
No matter how fast they're moving, they're moving really, really quickly.
13. "INSTEAD OF A DIAMOND, WHY DON'T I WEAR THIS THUMB RING AS AN ENGAGEMENT RING?"
On my right hand. What? We'll know that we're engaged, and isn't that what matters?? Also, I am so angry that Carrie Bradshaw poisoned the public against wearing an engagement ring on a necklace, I could just spit.
14. "The WHOLE POINT OF PRE-NUPS IS THAT YOU NEVER USE THEM!"
It's like when you get vaccinated against some disease that doesn't even really exist any more. Like, it'll make it easier to get divorced, and that will make us never get divorced! Don't you see?
15. "I NEED SOME SPACE."
Hey, I care about you and love our relationship/ marriage/ children/ rescue chinchillas. I just need to go sit in the garage and play Candy Crush for a few hours while trying to imagine what it would be like if I started a new life as a park ranger in New Mexico. It's nothing personal! Really.
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