Middle aged, balding, overweight, a soul sucking office job and a nagging wife. No time for yourself and an increasing sense of desperation as your life disappears and you cannot escape.
That's your nightmare, isn't it?
This is what you think about when you think about the word commitment
Trust me, you're not alone. I've felt it and so have countless other young men. Millienials are commitment phobes.
But your fear of commitment isn't what you think it is.
It's not about being afraid to settle down. Rather it's about being afraid to lose your independence and your options. It's about being afraid that the man that you are now will get lost into a soul sucking abyss.
Relationships don't have to be like this if you don't want them to. You get to set your own rules and your own boundaries. By understanding what you are actually afraid of and facing that fear head on, you can be ready to make a commitment while still enjoying your life and your freedom.
Here is what you are actually afraid of and how to change your thinking in order to overcome it.
You Are Afraid You Will Make The Wrong Decision
One of the biggest fears you have is worrying that you will choose the wrong woman. You wonder what will happen if you want to change your mind or upgrade to a newer model in a few years time.
This is a perfectly reasonable concern.
If you have a cosmic belief in "the one" then this is particularly concerning, as if you choose the wrong one and then later find the right one then you are in a bit of a bind.
I personally don't believe in "the one." There a just a ton of women out there, a fraction of which will be compatible or suited to you. You just have to pick one and do you best to make it work.
Modern society actually makes this job harder because the pool to choose from is so much bigger. Back in tribal or feudal days your choice was limited so you just made a decision and got on with it.
In fact studies have shown that if you have less choices you are more likely to choose something. If you have too many choices decision paralysis kicks in and you won't choose anything. 1
Just imagine if you could only choose a wife from the girls at your elementary school. It would make your decision that much easier.
Fearing the wrong decision is perfectly normal. It happens in every big decision you make in life from your career, to moving cities, to your stock picks.
Prior to joining the Navy I agonized about whether I was making the right decision. I chose to go in, stayed only a couple of years and came away with no regrets. It was the right decision.
Yet I know if I had chosen not to go, I would have done something else, my life would have been different and that too would have been the right decision. Life adjusts around the decisions you make. You just have to make one and go with it.
When it comes to relationships it helps to understand that there is no perfect girl. The best you can hope for is someone who is about 85% perfect. The other 15% comes from the love you cultivate together over time.
Upgrading is therefore a fallacy. If you ditch an 82% perfect girl for an 84% perfect girl you have to start the cultivation process all over again.
Flitting around, looking for immediate gratitude, hoping to find a "better" girl doesn't work.
A relationship is not about finding the right person. It is about creating and nurturing the bond between two imperfect people.
This takes time and it doesn't work if you keep ditching things and starting again.
It is a daily choice to love. All you can do is make that choice today and hope that you will still make that choice tomorrow, the next day and in 50 years time and beyond.
Have realistic expectations and accept that there will be some ups and downs. There will be some challenging traits in your partner that don't emerge for years. You will change and so will she, and hopefully you will change together.
Of course if things become a disaster and the relationship isn't working then you can end things. But absent a complete break down then you just have to do the hard work to keep nurturing the relationship. So find an 85% perfect girl and get started.
You Are Afraid You Won't Be Able To Escape
Closely aligned with fear of the wrong decision is the fear that you cannot escape.
If, god forbid, you realize that you did choose the wrong woman, you are worried that having committed, you will be stuck for life. You know that of course it's possible to get a divorce, but that the more you have committed the harder the break up will be. Especially if you have a house and kids.
This is an unnecessary fear because the reality is that you always can escape. The only question is, how much is it going to cost you emotionally and financially?
Divorce is an accepted reality these days. 40 to 50 percent of marriages in the USA end in divorce. 2
So as much as you may want to choose the perfect girl, the statistical reality is that you only have a one in two shot at staying together till death do you part.
Of course you can stay a perpetual bachelor, and that's a valid choice, but make sure you choose that because it's what you want, not because you are scared of the alternative.
The harsh reality is that relationships require you to be vulnerable. You open yourself up to a lot of hurt by loving someone. But if you really, really don't like where things end up in the future it is always possible to walk away.
You don't have stay in the same job, the same house or have the same friends for life. So in the same way you don't have to keep the same woman around for life.
You Are Afraid Your Life Will Become Miserable
Popular culture has done you a disservice. It portrays being single or coupled up but unmarried as being awesome, and portrays marriage as tedious, soul destroying and boring.
Chris Rock shows this best when he explains the unmarried women have pussies and married women have vaginas. It's hilarious (watch the video), and for many men probably true. But signing a legal contract doesn't mean your woman's pussy tastes any less good.
Sure it might not taste as good as it did in the first three months. But a long term commitment doesn't have to doom you to a terrible sex life. How good your sex life is, is up to you.
There are plenty of movies and sitcoms of people finding love but very few about people settling down in a long term relationship.
Chaotic singledom makes for good television, whereas marriage or long term commitment doesn't.
And while that is true what makes for good television isn't what makes for a good life. Although Robin Williams does a good job of arguing the virtues of marriage in Good Will Hunting.
The stability and security that a long term relationship provides are wonderful things. Just imagine what else you can do with your life when you free up the time and energy you spend as a single man chasing women.
The fear of becoming a middle aged balding man in a shit job with a nagging wife actually has very little to do with a fear of commitment or concerns about settling down.
Rather it's a fear of living a mediocre life of drudgery.
This can be avoided by doing what is necessary to live an awesome and fulfilling life. Eat healthy and work out. Develop an awesome career or start a business. Learn how to invest, grow your capital and make passive income. Put the work in to make your relationship awesome.
You don't have to shack up with the stereotypical nagging wife who destroys your freedom and makes you life miserable.
Find a girl that respects your freedom and independence and gives you what you need in the relationship. (Sex, companionship, intellectual conversation, whatever).
Hint: she will be a girl who respects her own freedom and independence and demands that you also give those things to her.
Don't view a relationship as a sacrifice. You can maintain your independence, your identity, your sense of self and your freedom as long as you set up your relationship in that way. Set boundaries and make sure you are two people in a relationship and not one person with two bodies.
You may worry that your life will become miserable in a relationship but remember that staying a bachelor has its opportunity costs as well. Missing out on a great relationship and growing old alone are serious things to consider.
So don't just focus on what you think a relationship takes from you. Think about what it gives to you as well.
You Are Afraid Of The Burden Of Having To Care For Others
Part of the fear of losing your freedom and independence is the fear that other's demands on your resources and time will limit you.
The truth is they will, but this is the reality of all human relationships and it's not a bad thing. As Neil Strauss says, "There is more freedom in commitment."
You have to stop being selfish and thinking only of yourself and learn to think about somebody else in a partnership.
A characteristic of a boy is that he only thinks of himself, a characteristic of a man is that he thinks about others and makes sacrifices for their benefit.
I remember when I moved away from home to college. I was so glad to have a clean slate and make new friends. I was so glad to be away from my family. I never called my parents and they might as well have not existed. All I cared about was myself.
Now I make an enormous effort to see my parents regularly. I make sure I also catch up with my siblings and cousins and will even try and and see elderly aunts and uncles. Where I can I also try to connect with old friends.
A few years ago I would have never done any of this because all I cared about was my freedom and my time.
As I've gotten older and developed as a man, I realize that I need to be there for my family and I need to look out for them. You could see it as a burden but I see it as a duty that I am happy to fulfill. My parents raised me, so I will be there for them as they age.
The same is true of romantic relationships. As a man you have to be there for your girl and your children. They will have demands on your time and resources but that is the reality of life and as a man you will be glad to provide.
A boy will focus on what he can get out of a relationship, while a man will focus on what he can give.
You Are Afraid Of Committing To Anything
A common weakness among the modern young man is the inability to commit to anything.
The often used excuse is that a young man needs time to "find himself." He lives a transient lifestyle, with transient jobs, shallow numerous relationships and often moves around.
On one hand you can argue that this is about being young and free. On the other hand the lack of willingness to commit to anything is a desire to avoid growing up.
Growing up is all about commitment. If you want to achieve any success in life, whether it is academic, sporting, professional or in a relationship, it takes time. You have to commit.
If you can't yet bring yourself to commit to a relationship then work to develop commitment in other areas. Commit to being there for your family, commit to completing a degree or getting some job training. Commit to a sport, hobby or career. It doesn't have to be forever, but it does need to be more than fleeting.
It will be very hard to commit to a woman when the rest of your life you spend floating on a whim in a chaotic fashion. Create stability in the rest of your life and you will be more ready to take the plunge in a serious relationship.
Having a fear of commitment is a legitimate fear. But more than being afraid of commitment is being afraid of the loss to your freedom and independence that it entails.
However a man knows that he needs to make sacrifices for his family and his woman and he is happy to make them.
The more important thing is not about what you lose from committing to a relationship, but what you gain.
Stability, security, companionship, love, a cheerleader, a friend, someone who understands you and looks out for you and the freedom to be true to yourself.
These things are priceless.
- Iyengar, S. and Lepper, M. (2000). When choice is demotivating: Can one desire too much of a good thing?. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79(6), pp.995-1006.
- American Psychological Association
- Why Men Display Insecurity In Relationships
- Keys To A Successful Relationship
- Jealousy And Insecurity - What's The Difference?
- How To Be A Better Man In A Relationship
- You Need To Get Over Your Ex Girlfriend