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Analyzing a fear of commitment

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Here comes all our baggage, hangups, flaws and insecurities. This is the not-so-pretty side of dating, but knowing who you are and what you bring to the table is important.

I’ve been doing my own soul searching lately, and have had a few realizations.

I often behave badly on a first date with a guy I’m interested in. I proudly point out all my bad habits with a smile on my face. I teasingly warn him that most of my relationships last only about a year and a half, so let’s enjoy it while it lasts. I hide behind self-deprecation.

I push a man away and then pull him in. One day yes, the next day no. Love me, but not too much. I’ll enjoy discussing our big-picture romance in the faraway future, but don’t book a vacation six months from now just yet.

As I analyze my pattern, I wonder if this is a defense mechanism or a warning not to get too close. But I want to be close, and I love being close, so why do I do that? Confused yet? I am too!

My best relationships over the past five years were with faithful companions who either never talked about the future or lived far enough away so I didn’t feel claustrophobic.

Ironically, when one of these companions finally wanted more, it was too late, I changed my mind. When the next shared his heartfelt commitment despite the distance, it scared me away. I cried when it ended because I knew I’d miss him so much, but the calendar hit 18 months and I was gone.

What is wrong with me? Are my expectations too high? Am I afraid of failure? Am I afraid to be hurt? Am I afraid to hurt another person?

The search continues.

To my surprise – boom! Here’s a man checking off all the boxes on my list. He sweeps me off my feet, I get tons of his time and energy, and OMG, could this be love?!

Wait! I slam on the brakes, giving whiplash to this kind man. We just met. I just got out of a relationship with another man I cared for deeply and I’m not ready for all this. We need to slow down.

I warned him. I tried to explain. I expected him to understand. But maybe he didn’t listen to me, or chose to ignore the details that didn’t fit with his plan?

And yet, I got what I wanted and I pushed it away. I did not intend for this to happen...again.

What I bring to the table is a fear of commitment. Is there anything to relieve me of this burden?

I want someone to support me and trust me and love me, but I don’t want to change who I am or conform to tradition. Even more, I don’t want to disappoint you or fail to live up to your expectations. My bathroom is a mess. My checkbook doesn’t make sense. I stay up way too late and I don’t want to be criticized or questioned.

I need someone willing to fan my flame, quietly, confidently, and steadfastly be my rock. Give me advice, listen openly to my crazy ideas. I do need your reassurance. I want to know that everything is going to be ok.

Ideally in return, you enjoy our fun-loving friendship and my faithful affection. I hope it results in love and longevity, despite my fears.

Will I get what I want? Do I have it now, but fear is getting in the way? How would I know? Is there any hope for such a hopeless romantic?

Time will tell. In the meantime, there are a few lessons to be learned:

First: know yourself. Understand your own personal obstacles. Recognize your patterns and how they affect other people.

Next, listen to exactly what people say when they tell you things about themselves instead of hearing what you want to hear.

Finally, when someone says, “It’s not you, it’s me,” trust them. It is not you. It is them. And they are sorry.

Questions for our dating columnist? Reach her at 716lovelife@gmail.com.

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