A lifelong commitment to one partner is a scary undertaking even for
those who are madly in love with each other. We are all familiar with
the sight of a pale and shaken groom, the unsure bride and the
prenuptial jitters many couples experience. When you think about the
gravity of this commitment it is enough to give anyone cold feet. Yet,
most people contain their fear and proceed with taking the oath of matrimony. There are some people whose fear, masked in many ways,
hinders their capacity to mate.
The mere word commit- conjures up less than ideal associations. We
commit people to mental institutions, we commit offenders to jail,
criminals commit crimes, and most people commit errors. How do we spin a
positive meaning to the desire to commit to a partner?
Well, this is all semantic- you say. Perhaps so, since commit also means
to act upon, bring together, join and entrust. Though the latter are
more reassuring definitions, they still imply some dependence on another
person’s capacity to join, come together and be trusted.
Relying on the ongoing goodwill of your partner- requires trust. Knowing
that the one you love may bring you great joy but may also produce great
pain-requires courage. Some people are so plagued by fear that their
trust and courage falter. They also know about the great suffering
caused by failed relationships. The hurt, rejection, intense anger,
powerlessness and loss are only some of the painful emotions associated
with marital dissolutions. If making a commitment at times of bliss may
later render you victimized, perhaps this choice is not safe.
Many singles are not aware that their dating behaviors may disguise
their commitment fears. They profess to want to be coupled but engage in
conduct that does not support their goals.
These are some behaviors that MAY be, but are not necessarily
manifestations of commitment avoidance.
- Searching for the perfect mate. Some people date and date. They meet
many potential partners only to find a blemish that renders them
disqualified as potential mates. If this experience sounds familiar to
you, be cautious not to use avoiding making a mistake or a cautious
style and discerning talents as excuses to avoid commitment.
- The two candidate ambivalence. Some singles find themselves unable to
decide between two very appealing, yet not perfect potential partners.
The unsure party often rehearses in his mind all the desirable qualities
of each woman and the ones she lacks to make him happy. When this
ambivalence lasts for some time, it may antagonize both mate choices or
end up having the “chosen one” feeling battered and betrayed.
- Pursuing an unavailable partner. A common practice of some singles is
to become involved with a person who is unavailable. Choosing for
example, a married lover, a person committed to remaining unattached, an
individual who is in love with another person, or a much older or much
younger partner not suitable for a life commitment. Some of these
choices predictably obstruct the chance for marriage.
- Acting as a “dance away lover”. This term was coined by Daniel
Goldstein and others who published a book by that name. It is defined as
conduct of intensely pursuing a partner until he or she becomes smitten
and committed and then terminating the relationship. This lover thrives
on the excitement and challenge of conquering the new partner’s love.
Once the new partner is “caught”, Don Juan is off to his next challenge.
Needless to say, this type of behavior in not conducive to permanency.
- Pursuing a rejecting person. This type of behavior is based on a myth
that the love target is the “only” suitable person for the pursuer.
Though the pursued person is clear about his lack of interest, the
pursuer is determined to win this person’s attention. “We were meant to
be together and therefore, I do not take no for an answer”. This
unyielding determination, over time may becomes obsessive and destructive.
- The non-yielding approach. Some single people develop non-negotiable
stances about money, children, living location, contact with family
members, to name a few. This approach is likely to frighten most
partners. It may signify that the non-negotiator is intending to usurp
all the power in the relationship, or later develop additional areas of
rigidity, or will be acting unilaterally without considering the
partner. If the non-yielding party hopes to stay uncommitted, he has
devised, knowingly or unknowingly a sure way to remain single.
- My career comes first. You have heard people say that their careers
are the center of their lives and that they will not allow anything to
distract them from their life’s passion. Few potential partners
knowingly opt for a second position. Since marriage is rooted in making
each other feel valued and special, this attitude contradicts the
essence of commitment. Some who are married to their jobs end up single
and even very lonely.
- The “bon vivant.” This person loves life, adventure, positive
experiences, fun and living for the joyous moments. Though the “bon
vivant” is fun to have at parties, his hedonistic pursuits may not blend
well with a stable family life. All the protestations about just wanting
to find a fun partner do not lead to settling down.
- The “my way or the highway” attitude. Some people are self-referenced.
They judge every thing in life only from their own perspective. It is
extremely hard for them to consider other people’s views, wants and
needs. A few of these people search for partners who are nurturing and
expect little in return. This is a self-centered demand that may render
them unfit to partner.
If any of these attitudes or behaviors is familiar to you, and you do
want to find a life -mate, you may need to alter your behavior to become
fit to commit.