Decoding the Commitment Phobia

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If anything less than mad, passionate, extraordinary love is a waste of time, then why are some people today afraid to jump in when it could be the sanest thing to do in the world?

By Aretha Angcao

I may not be Mila Kunis, but I once had a man get down on one knee in front of me inside a theme park. It was not cold; in fact it was a bit humid, but I shivered like a chicken that was doused with a bucket of ice cold water. Before a single word came out of the man’s mouth, I beat him to the punch and begged him not to say anything. After about a millisecond, the man got up and dusted himself off . “Wait, wait, wait! Don’t get up! Kneel again! Kneel again!” my mind frantically screamed.

“I’ll say yes! Please kneel again,” I thought desperately, trying to bend the guy to my will through mental telepathy. But the moment was gone and as Carrie said in the highly syndicated series Sex and the City, little cupid has definitely flown the coop. I never found out if the guy wanted to propose or if he just wanted to fix his shoelaces. Anyway, it wouldn’t matter now since I believe in that short moment, I transcended the definition of being jaded. I am so jaded I make the Grinch look like Mary Poppins singing “A Spoonful of Sugar.” If a century ago, women were popping out babies by the dozen, and men were sending out love letters to maidens like morning newspapers, these days, a person who is eager to jump into a committed relationship is as rare as Dorothy’s ruby red slippers. Bungalow houses with manicured lawns that come with babies and milk bottles do not exactly hold the same excitement as they used to for people anymore. Most young professionals opt for a two-bedroom condo with its own parking space and an unlimited supply of Starbucks handcrafted beverage for an entire year. When has the idea of settling down become as exciting as going to the dentist for a root canal? When did donning a white dress become a death sentence for some women? When did men decide that living alone in a condominium playing beer pong is more fun than having someone to cuddle with on those long and cold December evenings?

It just seems that relationships these days last as long as Taylor Swift’s romances —very, very quick. Some have the capacity to leave you in such a sorry state that you wouldn’t even think of going through such an experience again even if Santa promises you a shiny red convertible to make a relationship last for at least three months. Some just choose to be single. Because. Life. Just. Becomes. More. Simple. But what about the chosen few who decide to give relationships another try? Those brave souls who decide to go out into battle after licking their wounds from past relationships with the spirit and gusto of a neophyte who just joined the navy. Could it be “commitment phobia”? What exactly is “commitment phobia” and is it really more common now than we would like to admit?

According to pop psychology, the fear of commitment refers to an “avoidance of long-term partnership and/or marriage, but the problem is often much more pervasive, affecting school, work, and home life as well. People first read the term “commitment phobia” in the book Men Who Can’t Love, which was published in 1987. Maybe the real problem is not that there is such a lack of desirable and unattached men and women. There is such a fear of commitment among single people that we just go around, drifting like lost souls in the Neverland of dating, never becoming mature enough to be in a serious relationship, but always ready for the rush and euphoria that fleeting and non-committal relationships bring.

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EM AND ANTHONY’S STORY.

Em met her future husband when she was only 15. Anthony was nine years her senior and was already fairly stable in his career. Em was still in school, and being the eldest among her siblings, the thought of settling down, or even having a boyfriend was definitely not a priority at that time. But after thinking hard about it, Em decided to take the plunge and soon afterwards, she and Anthony started dating, which led to them getting married four years later. Now they have a beautiful three-year old daughter named Aria. Em recalls that if she hadn’t been brave enough to quell her own fears and doubts about having a relationship, she probably wouldn’t have gotten the relationship she wanted.

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Probably then for most of us, courage is the answer. Nothing is ever permanent in this world. Most of the time, the things that are worth taking risks for do not come with guarantees. There are those chances that come only once in a lifetime and those that say you ‘d better be ready, because you do not know when they will come knocking again. But no matter how scary they may appear, these are the risks that you take that, when they do pay off, they pay off beautifully indeed.

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Tim’s Story

Tim, 38, is a badly scarred guy. He’s been through more than four long-term relationships and several short term ones in between that did not exactly work out. He was so badly scarred by his last longterm relationship that he got to a point that he would rather remain single forever than be in a relationship. However, his views started to shift in time when he realized there is no limit to second chances. He realized that yes, he can try his best to avoid the risk of getting hurt by avoiding relationships, but he’ll also miss out on all the good parts of being in love and committed to someone. Tim knew he cannot be a prisoner in his own thoughts and past hurts, and that it is only by taking risks and letting people in that he can be happy and truly free. We all wish relationships can be easy. In truth, they can be messy and pretty damn scary most of the time. But as Tiffanie de Bartolo says in Dream for an Insomniac: “Anything less than mad, passionate, extraordinary love is a waste of time. There are too many mediocre things in life to deal with and love shouldn’t be one of them.”

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