I had my first serious relationship when I was 18. The guy was seven years older than I was. Despite my parents’ objections over the fact that he was too old and he didn’t come from the same religious background as we did, we stayed together for almost two years.
Until one day, he jokingly asked me if I would want him to convert. I asked him why, and not so jokingly, he responded, “It will be easier for your family to accept me when we take things to the next level, right?”
“The next level” was not something I was used to hearing in the context of a relationship. Back then, the idea of being accompanied, completed, defined, by the same man for the rest of my life freaked me out. Within the same month, I broke up with the guy. I didn’t think much of the experience, but after three to four more similar situations where I bailed right when things were starting to get more serious, I began to develop a label for myself: “I have commitment issues.”
Before I realized it, I started using this particular designation as an opening line when I’m describing my character. As if I’m putting out an ad for a dangerous job and I had to disclaim “SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED”. And the more I hear acceptance, even reciprocations from my counterparts, the more I was convinced it must be true.
However, at one point, its nature of genuineness became irrelevant.
Instead of being my last, “commitment issues” became my first defense against prospective relationships. I declared it early and clear. I thought I was drawing a line of my own curves and edges, but later I found that really, I was just trying to build an exit strategy. And I believe, I’m not the only one.
We are comfortable by the fact that there is a seemingly external factor that affects us against our own control, and prevents us from being able to commit to anyone we are close with. And we’re conveniently ignoring the fact that most of the time it’s just a matter of getting ourselves off the hook when a relationship doesn’t work out.
But we are forgetting the real question behind it: are we really scared to commit to everyone, or just that particular person? And why is it wrong to be on our 20th relationship and still haven’t found the right person to commit to?
Why do I have to cower behind “commitment issues” to sound somewhat reasonable every time I refused to jump for a shotgun wedding with anyone who offered me a paper ring?
I want to be able to say “Sorry, you’re just not the one for me,” without triggering a dramatic reaction from a guy.
In retrospect, I want a guy to be able to say the same thing to me when a future together is clearly not visible for the both of us. I’d like to believe that we are entitled to try and fail, and be fully credited for all the efforts, triumphs, and downfalls. Instead of going Houdini, or self-diagnosing an imaginary psychological disorder, why not tell the truth?