Oh, you have commitment issues? I see. What exactly do you mean by that? Do you mean you’d like me to keep disrespecting myself and put aside all my wants and needs to fool around together with the understanding that you’ll never want to commit to me? And then when you decide to end “us” you won’t feel as bad because you’ve already pre-empted that you have “issues”? And then a week or two later when I’m miserably Facebook stalking you I’ll get to see an updated relationship status of you and some other girl…who I guess you don’t have “commitment issues” with anymore? Is that what you really mean? …Because that’s fine, but that’s just not gonna cut it for me. No hard feelings; you’re a good kiss but a lousy person. All the best with your issues.
Does this ring any bells of familiarity to you? Do you look back on a particular situation and wish you could’ve had the courage to say something like that? Why do so many of us instead say “oh, okay, why do you have those issues…” (and we listen to their tragic story) and say “that’s so sad, I totally understand, of course I’ll stick by you then’. EERRRRR! Wrong answer ladies! What you’re about to do now is make a choice to be someone’s “comfort girl”; to simply fill a void they have, to be a temporary fix until they find something else. That may sound harsh, but it’s the truth baby. Stop fooling yourself.
I know you’ve been in this situation before…because we nearly all have. I believe it’s something most women share in common. We all share some story about that one time we stuck around in a relationship which was damaging to our self-esteem because we actually believed they meant their excuses, and maybe if we hung around long enough they (or we) would change their mind.
“I have commitment issues” has become the easiest (and somehow commonly accepted) pick-up line. I use the term “pick-up line” because it seems to actually work to pull girls in and keep them there. We’re intrigued by a damaged soul rather than throwing some holy water on them and running for the hills.
Allow me to digress for a moment…it would be an injustice to what I understand about human behaviour if I didn’t take a minute to discuss the one exception– and let me tell you… there is only ONE exception to the rule here. If your “person” doesn’t fit in to the following category than they are NOT the exception and you should refer to the template in paragraph one for leaving their a** behind.
The Exception: All humans are wired to avoid pain. Though pain is a fundamental necessity for growth (I’ll save this for another post), our brains are still designed to keep us away from it. Ever touch the end of something piping hot, like your hair straightener? How quickly did you flinch away? Lightning speed I’m guessing. I’m not going to get technical on all the body’s responses causing you to retract – but basically your brain gets the message of pain and kicks everything in to gear to get you away from the source. It happens before you’re even fully conscious of it. Now how much more careful are you to stay away from the hot plates?
So, if someone had an experience in their life to cause them significant pain their brain is clever enough to keep them away from experiencing it again. The problem here is identifying what the brain has associated to the pain; or in other words, what it links the cause of the pain to. And this is the part of the process you actually can have total control over. It’s called ‘pain association’. Keep following me…back in the old, old, old days people lived in tribes and they were constantly on the lookout for danger like lions or bears or angry cave-women wives. If a lion was coming after them, they’d have two choices – stay and fight or run like hell. Survival instinct 101. Times have changed but our brains have not. If you perceive any kind of threat your brain tries to understand what that threat is to then trigger an appropriate response. But if there is no obvious threat endangering us our brains have got a problem. What is the source of the pain?! We should be very conscious of what meaning we give to our brains in these times because it can have a long lasting effect.
I’ll wrap this up in a practical analogy…
You were in a relationship. It was beautiful, then it was horrible, you broke up. Shattering. Heart-breaking. World-crushing. Pain, pain, pain. You have two options right now… you can say to yourself “relationships cause me this pain; love, opening up too much, vulnerability… it all causes me pain”. Now you’ve got commitment issues. Whenever you are next in a situation where you feel yourself opening up or being vulnerable your brain will go “OH NO NO NO… we’ve been here before, we know how THIS ends, get out of here!” Cue self-sabotages.
Option number two: You were in a relationship. It was beautiful, then it was horrible, you broke up. Shattering. Heart-breaking etc etc…. but now you say to yourself “staying in a toxic relationship for longer than I should have caused me pain” or, “that person and that particular relationship caused me pain”.
You see the difference? This is how phobias start too. This is what can cause painful experiences to have lingering affects over a lifetime. It is all about the association. Be mindful of what you associate your pain to.
Now… (I have my sensitive voice on) when I say this is the “exception” what I mean is that some people truly do have what they might identify as “commitment issues”. And if that is the case then they simply need to get professional help – and you might need to accept YOU may not be the kind of help they need. People who have emotional and mental issues have a responsibility to take care of it before getting involved with another person and taking it out on them. There is absolutely no shame in having issues…let’s be honest, we all do! But we are responsible for them, not others, and especially not the people we love. Sticking around in a relationship to “help” someone becomes a very dangerous game, requiring a lot of caution and self-awareness. I don’t recommend it without you getting external help also.
Okaaaaay, back to the other circumstances where you’re simply just getting played! (Real talk voice back on)…
More and more people tend to have these “commitment issues” these days. I’d say it’s quite an epidemic really. I personally believe it’s for two main reasons:
One) We live in an time where everything is upgradeable and replaceable. And I mean everything. I barely get the newest Samsung before the next model is already out. Of course it becomes harder to commit because in the back of the mind there is that haunting fear that something better will come along. That may be okay with phones… but that’s not okay if it’s a relationship. There is nothing worse than getting the inkling that your partner may be holding on to you while looking out for the next best thing. Yuck.
Two) We are all addicted to instant gratification and easy accessibility. It is another by-product of the world we live in. Let’s take Tinder for example: you’re at home bored and lonely, so you have a swipe fest through Tinder. You’ve got a few matches! You message one person. They don’t reply or send you a stupid response. So you message the next person… and so on and so forth. This is not how it used to be. In fact, every romantic love story you’ve ever watched or read about doesn’t tell a timeless tale of two lovers connecting on Tinder. None of your grandparents love stories probably sounded like that either. Truth is, people used to put in the effort. You go to a town dance (getting real old school now), you see someone who catches your eye, you might write letters, you might call on the home phone at a respectable hour…“hi, is so and so there?” You ask them on a date. You keep dating or you don’t. This process requires time and effort, and…you guessed it…commitment! Our new-aged processes take very little to no time and effort – therefore, nothing is as valuable to us, not even the person you’re on a date with. Sad reality. We are spoilt for choice and lazy
But your story doesn’t have to look like that.
I really beg you here… please stop wasting your chances for an actual love story. Stop sticking around when they don’t deserve that kind of loyalty. Please, pleeeeease trust that when you meet someone who actually see’s you and loves you they just don’t muck around. They’ll hold on to you. It’s still how it works. If he isn’t turning out to be “the one” than let him go. Just cut the damn cord. You’re wasting energy and you don’t want to be all frazzled and battle worn and wrinkled by the time Mr. Perfect comes along. Or worse… you don’t want your Mr. Perfect to walk right passed you because you’re clinging to the arm of Mr. All-kinds-of-wrong.