Commitment , n. \kə-ˈmit-mənt\: a promise to do or give something
: a promise to be loyal to someone or something
: the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something
Phobia , n. \ˈfō-bē-ə\: an extremely strong dislike or fear of someone or something*
Commitment-phobe, n.: a person who equates romantic commitment with a cruel and horrible death.
Does the idea of committing to one person for the rest of your life make you want to run for the hills? Does the promise of a long-term relationship fill you with existential dread? If someone told you that you could either get married or spend three days suspended in a hot tub filled with leeches, would you seriously consider the leeches? If so, you, friend, may belong in the gloried ranks of the commitment phobic.
There is nothing inherently wrong with being afraid or unwilling to commit to a long-term relationship. A lot of people use “commitment-phobe” as a synonym for “asshole,” and simply accept the stereotype that someone who doesn’t want to commit is damaged or mean-spirited. This simply isn’t fair. For some people, going commitment-free is a phase, whereas for others it’s a way of life; in either case, people have the right to know their own minds and make decisions about how they want to live. If commitment-phobes clearly communicate to the people they date that they don’t want a commitment, and then those people are hurt when it turns out that their commitment phobic partners were telling the truth, well, that sucks, but it’s a lesson that you should listen to your partner. Commitment-phobia is only really a problem in two cases: First, when commitment-phobes pretend to be open to commitment, misleading their partners into thinking there is a possibility for a long-term relationship when their isn’t; and, second, when a commitment-phobic person wants to be a committed relationship, but is crippled by his or her own fear. The first step to figuring out how to proceed with your dating life is to figure out if you are, in fact, a commitment-phobe; here are a few signs that you might just be:
1. Labels freak you out
You’re happy to date someone nearly indefinitely, but as soon as the words “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” (or heaven forbid, “fiancé") enter the picture, you find yourself looking for an exit.
2. You end relationships for stupid reasons
There are lots of completely legit reasons to end a relationship, but if you find yourself consistently breaking up with people you actually like for minor or imagined faults, the real problem might be your own fear of long-term relationships.
3. You start projects but don’t finish them
If you start a lot of projects (DIY, crafting, writing, dance classes, whatever), but you always leave them half-finished, it may be a sign that you’re uncomfortable making decisions that affect your life in the long-term.
4. Discussions of the future fill you with dread
You find yourself cringing whenever your partner mentions plans for the future. Your internal panic attacks aren’t limited to major relationshippy plans like, “Let’s move in together in a year”; even random remarks like, “Oooh, I can’t want until we finally get to see Age of Ultron in May,” make you look for the door.
5. Family and friends are off-limits to you
Meeting your S.O.’s family and friends is a huge no-go for you. The prospect of being introduced to Mom and Dad makes you suddenly claustrophobic; every time you meet a friend of your S.O.’s, you automatically think, “There’s another person I’ll have to avoid after we break up, as we inevitably will.”
6. You don’t want the relationship to change
You’re perfectly happy with the way your relationship the way it is right now, thank you very much, and any suggestion of change freaks you out. When your S.O. asks to spend the night for the first time, you break out in a cold sweat. When he or she suggests you go away for the weekend together, you have to breath into a paper bag for a while. When he or she proposes moving in together, well, no one can blame you if you pee your pants a little, right?
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