Confessions of a Commitment Phobe

This morning, I read an opinion piece on how “Prince Harry must marry.” Honestly, I have been the target of such speeches for a while.  It’s not uncommon in my family to be an over 30 single woman, but there are still comments on how bouts of tempers could be cured by “marrying her off.” Being one of these tempestuous women, I can confidently say that the temper tantrums are not cured by any means. They’re just given another target. Confession – I almost walked out of my own engagement because they were late. How’s that for a temper tantrum? In hindsight of course, I should have walked out, but that’s a different story altogether.

The truth is, when someone speaks to me about marriage, more specifically mine, suddenly I can’t breathe. Mention the words “husband,” or “wife,” and I suddenly feel my blood pressure drop, and have to sit down for a bit.  (Strangely enough, the word “partner,” I’m fine with) When someone speaks about my wedding, what I see is not the pretty dress and the beautiful gathering of family and friends on a perfect day as we celebrate love.  (I only see the pretty and beautiful when it’s someone else’s wedding) What I see instead is way too much work followed by a lifetime spent in catering to someone else’s whims; a husband, children, in-laws, husband’s friends.  No more quiet mornings where I can get up and do as I please, the need to negotiate everything including what movies to watch, and less and less of my beloved silence and solitude. Even thinking about it makes me tired. Because of all this, I am labeled as a “commitment phobe.”

On the other hand, I really do like being in a relationship, depending on who the relationship is with, that is. The resistance towards commitment is not about sex. In all my life, be it three months, or three years, I have been completely monogamous in every relationship I’ve been in. Hot tempered yes, impatient definitely, jealous on occasion and slightly crazy through it all, but still 100% in it and completely in love. I also cook home made meals, do the laundry, humour man flu attacks and make an effort with partners’ parents and friends. Sometimes, I even like these new non-strangers. However, I draw the line at ironing, oh and yes, changing my surname.

Why am I along with others like me, labeled as a commitment phobe? Or selfish even? Does it only count as a commitment when it’s made to someone else? Does life only count as being complete when you’ve walked down the isle? And wouldn’t it be more selfish to have children “because everybody is doing it,” knowing that you’re not ready to give as much attention as is needed. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think motherhood should be a half assed job.

Personally, I think way too much time is spent worrying about committing, sometimes not by the committer him/herself. Sometimes it’s the family and the loved ones who we know just mean well. Other times it’s by some random who doesn’t overly care, but just wants gossip. I know many people who are committed to different things – their yoga practice, Occupying, changing the world, gardening, and even someone else, but they’re still not committing where it counts because they don’t plan on walking down the isle. Julia Gillard is Prime Minister, but the big thing is that she’s not married and doesn’t want children. It’s not natural apparently for a woman to not want those things. In this day and age, really…

It’s perfectly fine to be a commitment phobe I think. Relationships are not just of the romantic kind. There are close friends, family and of course, your hairdresser (I’m pretty committed to mine). However, here’s the clause – anything is possible in this world. Even the unlikely and the impossible.

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