I was in a relationship for five years. In some states that’s practically a common law marriage, and needless to say it’s a big commitment. Yet now that I’ve been single for more than a year, I worry that somewhere along the way I’ve become a bit of a commitment phobe. I’m not plagued with full-blown commitment phobia, but I’m definitely a tad gun shy. I don’t know whether I was always this way and suppressed my fears, or whether the end of a long relationship converted me into something I wasn’t before.
One thing I do know: the abundance of dating options definitely doesn’t help the situation. Yes, Tinder and Match and Hinge and OkCupid and all of these other services are awesome. They are also completely effing overwhelming. You’ve got a good thing going but then in the back of your mind you’re like “Wait, but what else is out there?”
It’s the equivalent of sitting down in a restaurant and scanning the menu. Something instantly jumps out at you and you’re set to order, but when the server takes a few minutes to come back to your table, you start to question your decision. You open the menu back up and start scanning again. You change your mind. You find out what your friend is ordering, which makes you change it again. After a few more minutes pass, you switch back to your original choice. Finally, you realize you’re just going to have to be spontaneous and blurt something out when the server arrives. Ultimately, you order what you settled on originally. You always knew that was the right choice, you just had to go through the motions of picking something else to satisfy the “what if?” part of your brain.
But when you start to question your instincts, original thoughts, and gut feelings, it all goes haywire.
Obviously this goes a little deeper than ordering food in a restaurant, but you get the idea. And everyone loves an analogy.
I just read this awesome article by Aziz Ansari about this notion of being overwhelmed by choices. If you’re dating/have dated/hope to date in the future, you should definitely read it.
Here’s another problem to add to the mix: the weight of the importance of choosing a partner crushes me. Dating now is different than dating when you’re 18. Sure, it’s fun, but ideally you’re dating to find someone you could see yourself winding up with. Why waste your time and energy on someone who’s clearly not a good fit? Knowing that I’m trying to vet everyone as a potential life partner has me rattled. I know, I know. Take it one step at a time. Don’t extrapolate too far into the future. But that’s easier said than done, especially since I turned 27 a few weeks ago and am realizing that singles are a dying breed among my friend group. Soon I’ll probably end up in a museum or something.
“Look! The last remaining single girl! Isn’t she interesting?” the teacher says as she brings her class through on a field trip.
Basically, put it all together and you have the perfect storm for commitment phobia. I wouldn’t say it’s incurable, but I’m definitely cautious when dating. My dad describes it as “analysis paralysis” and warns that it can be just as problematic as being too quick with your relationship decisions.
With all of this in mind, I’m trying to press “pause” on my brain a little bit and just go with the flow. But that’s easier said than done for someone with my personality type.
Do you ever deal with a touch of commitment phobia? How do you handle it?