We’ve heard the phrase bandied around for years, but is it really as simple as someone being afraid of, or threatened by, making a commitment to his or her dating partner? Usually the ‘Commitment Phobia’ accusation is leveled towards the man in the relationship with the related belief that it comes down to something genetically programmed on the Y chromosome!
At the core of a person’s willingness to commit to a relationship, is their willingness to accept limitations and restrictions on their options. And here-in lies the problem. Maintaining our options is highly valued by our culture. We see it as a wise position; why close the doors on anything unless you have to? Keep your options open because you can’t predict whether you will need that option in the future. It’s like insurance – have a back up plan in case this one doesn’t work out.
However, for many people, the options game is not just about insurance; it revolves around the fantasy that we can ‘have it all’ – the career; the family; the soul mate spouse; the overseas experience; the home to die for; the rugged-but-sensitive and emotionally vulnerable man; the pure-and-untouched-but sexually uninhibited virgin woman. We’ve been told by our consumer society that we deserve it all.
The problem is, in relationships, it doesn’t work like this. It’s not possible to enjoy the benefits of an intimate, soulful and joyous relationship if we’re still playing the field (even if it is only in our imagination) or have a back up plan. Intimacy flourishes in a bed of confident fidelity and exclusivity; it’s only safe to be emotionally vulnerable if the couple’s commitment to each other is rock solid.
The life-long love-affair of which we all dream comes about through the dedicated effort of both spouses. You’re just not going to make that kind of effort if in the back of your mind you’re holding onto the thought that maybe there’s a better option out there for you.