What I Actually Mean When I Say I’m Afraid Of Commitment

I’ve always avoided situations that could be somewhat permanent – or, permanent it would seem. I’ve avoided doing things that had permanent consequences and I never burned any bridges. I never understood why until one of my past flames had asked me about tattoos.

“Do you have any tattoos?” he asked me as we drove through the darkness.

“Nah,” I looked out the window.

“Afraid of needles?” he pried.

“A little. And permanence,” I sighed.

“Permanence?” He looked at me.

“Yeah. It’s there forever. You can’t change it. I don’t like things I can’t change. I don’t like things that I can’t just make a decision about at the last minute and not be stuck with the consequences.” I shrugged.

“You’re afraid of permanence? That sounds like a fancy way of saying you have commitment issues,” he laughed as he grabbed my hand.

“I guess so.” I looked back out the window, my hand still in his.

You see, he was right. It was then clear to me: I am afraid of commitment. But it isn’t as black and white as you’d think it is.

What I really mean when I say that I’m afraid of commitment is a lot of things. It’s not being afraid to only commit to one person for the rest of my life or even an extended period of time. It’s not waiting for something or someone better to come along. It’s much, much more than that.

What I mean when I say that I’m afraid of commitment or have commitment issues is this:

I am afraid of getting my heart broken. I’m terrified of caring too much – caring so much more than the other person. I’m scared of facing more disappointment that is likely beyond my control, and I’m afraid of giving another person that much power to break my heart, holding it in their hands completely unaware of how fragile it is.

I am worried about being vulnerable and putting myself in positions where I’m not 100% in control. I’m not talking about having full control in a relationship, but having full control of my emotions and feelings – something that is difficult to do when you’re leaving the door open for someone else to walk into your life.

I’m constantly afraid that I am making the wrong decisions. I think a part of us consciously chooses people that we know won’t or can’t love us back because that’s all we’ve ever known. I, like many others, are afraid to open up to love because of this. It’s uncharted territory, so I inadvertently stick with what I’ve always known, and as it turns out, that’s choosing people that are beyond my grasp.

Poor experiences from past relationships have caused me to view relationships as restraining, rather than something that I should be enjoying. I’m worried that I’ll eventually change my mind and I won’t want the same things. It’s completely normal, but I don’t want to hurt someone else who has also invested a lot into a relationship. I’m terrified that I’ll be too invested and miss out on something that could be life-changing for me and make me a better person, whether that be a job opportunity, travel opportunity, or whatever it may be.

I am afraid of commitment because I am broken. I worry that putting me back together will be too much of a challenge and burden to bear, and they will leave when I need them most. I’m scared to get too comfortable, for they’ll eventually grow bored with me or decide that I’m not worth the effort and leave.

What I fail to realize is that relationships don’t have to (and shouldn’t have to) be like this. I should be with someone who makes me feel comfortable; someone who isn’t giving me excuses to worry. I should be with someone who makes me want to take the jump without fear of falling or looking back. The people that make me anxious and worry about taking that big step towards commitment are people that I really shouldn’t even have in my life.

All of this is what I mean when I say that I’m afraid of commitment. Perhaps my view on relationships has been a bit tainted, and maybe I’m just a chicken when it comes to love. I don’t like being this way. It’s something I’ve been working hard to get past, but it takes time and patience. Someday, we’ll get there.

Feature image via Josefine H. J

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