You May Be Commitment-Phobic If: You have a mile-long list of requirements for your ideal mate You go from one short-lived relationship to the next You have a habit of dating "unavailable" men You think many of your married friends have settled for less You are constantly blowing "hot" and "cold" in your relationships For years, it was the men who had the monopoly on commitment-phobia. Today, single women are the fastest-growing segment of the population, with over forty-seven million single women in this country and twenty-two million of them between the ages of twenty-five and forty-four. Whatever the reasons -- fear of divorce, increased financial independence, delayed motherhood -- more women than ever no longer feel the urgency, or the ability, to settle down. Lucky for this growing group of women, author and former commitment-phobe Elina Furman has written Kiss and Run, the first-ever book about female commitment anxiety. Filled with fun quizzes, first-person testimonials, and step-by-step action plans, Kiss and Run includes the top-five panic buttons, advice for curbing overanalysis, and tips for fixing negative commitment scripts. You'll also find the seven types of commitment-phobes, including the Nitpicker, the Serial Dater, and the Long-Distance Runner.
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By Elina Furman. For years, it was the men who had the monopoly on commitment-phobia. Men have been pegged as being out of touch with their emotions, holding out for their perfect dream girl, and running for the hills whenever women so much as mention the dreaded words love or marriage. No doubt about it—say commitment-phobia and most people automatically think men. Raised to believe that men are the commitment-shy gender, many women coast through life completely oblivious to their own commitment anxiety—believing that they want a relationship yet systematically pushing away one perfectly suitable candidate after another.
With 47 million women currently single, it should come as no surprise that they are becoming as commitment-phobic as men. Women are taking longer and longer to settle down, putting off marriage in favor of work, starting their own businesses, and playing the field well into their thirties, forties, and fifties.
It never fails. But take Susan, for example. Much as she wants to meet the one, tie the knot, and have children, she continually finds herself going from one short-lived relationship to the next. Like clockwork, after three months of dating a man, she manages to find something wrong with him. Or what about Melanie?
A graduate student in California pursuing her Ph. Yet in the past four years, she has dated three men: one with a wife and two children, another who lived outside the country and had no plans to relocate, and a third who was on his way to jail for tax evasion. At 40 years old, she has lived an extremely full life. After breaking off an engagement in her early thirties, she traded her Vera Wang dress for a plane ticket, traveled the world for three months, and eventually started a business serving solo female travelers.
She always thought that she would get married at some point in her life, but every time a relationship looked like it was getting serious, she found herself yearning to travel again. Bad luck? Mere coincidence? At what point does one realize that the only common denominator here is the woman herself? Think about it. You have a habit of dating unavailable men married, involved with someone else, geographically or emotionally distant, etc.
You cultivate larger networks of friends and acquaintances at the expense of single romantic relationships. You have a habit of avoiding conversations about marriage and the future with the people you date. I, Elina Furman, have a fear of commitment. I have always been a halfway kind of girl. I mean, what if you finish something and then realize it was a colossal waste of time?
What if you take that vacation only to find out it would have been better left to your imagination? Not that I strayed or cheated or anything. In fact, I pride myself on being a great partner. I lose momentum. I become distracted, depressed, and anxious. The first time I realized I had commitment issues was when my ex-boyfriend of seven years and I broke up. Besides the fact that it took us four years to even say the word love, we had never talked about the future, commitment, marriage, or even living together.
In seven long years of dating, the subject never came up—not once. You know how some couples kind of half joke about it or roll their eyes when friends ask, So when are you two getting married?
Not us. When it came to talking about the serious commitment issues, we never, ever discussed, alluded, or even hinted at it. Not permanently, that is. Not until death did us part. As boyfriends went, he was great—caring, fun, supportive, the works!
But together forever? I knew I cared about him, but I also knew there were many men to meet, a gazillion places to be, and a whole lifetime to be lived. I thought, What if I decide to quit my job, move to the country, and start breeding Maltese puppies?
Would I have the option to do that once I was fully committed? Or what if I made the decision to be with him, only to fall in love with someone else?
These questions plagued me on a daily basis. On the other hand, I was equally scared to leave something good behind. After all, what if this was as good as it got? So there I was: stuck in between—not wanting to lose him but incapable of moving things forward.
Looking back at my life, I realized that I had never really thought about making a commitment to someone. Sure, the concept was always lodged somewhere in the back of my brain, but more like a random afterthought than a concrete idea. It has taken many years of introspection, reviewing my personal history, and watching myself sabotage every good thing in my life to finally realize that as much as I wanted stability and comfort, I was equally if not more petrified of making a permanent commitment.
Whether it was in my halfhearted efforts in school, my half-baked dance career, my quasi-committed relationships, or any of my gazillion half-finished jobs and business ideas, I always found myself losing interest before I could really immerse myself or master something. Easy come, easy go! When I first started pondering this problem, I could have easily dismissed my commitment issues as a simple case of relationship ADD or not having met my soul mate whatever that means.
But I knew there was something more to it. I was determined to find out more about my conflicting views on commitment. Armed with the best motivations, I scoured the bookstores and libraries hoping to find something that would help me out.
Not one book about female commitment-phobia. I stopped to wonder: Can this really be? Am I just imagining all my issues? But something told me that my anxiety was not merely a figment of my imagination. I had no idea that I was about to embark on what would eventually become an exhilarating, sometimes painful, but mostly eye-opening three-year journey. My first order of business: reaching out to and interviewing women from all over the country.
With every woman I talked to, it was the same story. They wanted commitment but were scared of getting involved. They loved their boyfriends but were terrified of taking the next step. They felt pressure to date but were happier when they were on their own.
Dozens of women wrote in, telling me their stories—from the almost-bride who left her husband at the altar and still regrets it to the CEO who has spent her life hiding behind her work because she feared commitment.
The e-mails kept pouring in. Some of the women were proud, some were scared, and others were just plain bewildered by their commitment anxiety. The more women I talked to, the more comforted I became as well. This book is not pro-marriage, anti-singles, or couples-obsessed. While many of you will discover that you are shirking commitment due to fears and anxiety, not everyone who chooses to be single is avoiding intimacy.
Some women are perfectly happy being on their own, cohabiting, or even having children out of wedlock. The real crisis would be in your failure to understand how your fears and uncertainty drive much of your behavior. In fact, one of the main premises of this book is that most of the time you have chosen your love life, whether you know it or not.
Every day, you have made innumerable conscious and unconscious choices that have led up to where you are now. You choose your love life every time you fall for a married man, start dating someone who lives three thousand miles away, or break up a good relationship for no apparent reason. First and foremost, this book is about committing to yourself, finding inner courage, and honoring your choices—whatever these may be. Commitment here means honestly connecting with another person without fear, timidity, or ambivalence.
Chapter 2 includes quizzes and exercises to help you figure out if you are indeed afraid of commitment and will show you all the ways in which you may be allowing fear to sabotage your love life. The second part of the book will help you determine what type of commitment-phobe you are, because when it comes to women, we all know that one size never fits all. After countless interviews, I started to recognize several distinct patterns of behavior. While some women serial-dated to avoid committing to one man, others checked out of the dating game altogether as a way of dealing with their relationship anxiety.
And still others pursued ambivalent men in order to avoid dealing with their own commitment issues. Each chapter will include hang-ups, potential pitfalls, and concrete steps and strategies personalized for each type of commitment-phobe. You can either review each of the archetypes separately, depending on which you think applies most, or you can read through all of them.
Since many commitment-phobes overlap in their behavior, I would highly recommend that you review each one carefully. From managing runaway emotions to curbing overanalysis, there are no shortages of practical tools to help you overcome your commitment-phobia once and for all.
While living alone and cultivating ourselves is an important rite of passage, many of us are getting stuck in this phase. We become so comfortable with the single life that we become scared to take the emotional risks a committed relationship requires.
There are numerous ways in which we avoid commitment—whether we do things halfway, reject people we care about, conceal our true feelings, or keep one foot out the door at all times to protect ourselves. And that, of course, was a guarantee that nothing ever did. You have to be emotionally ready to commit. Not even close.
Not at all. Well, maybe a little.
Kiss and Run: The Single, Picky, and Indecisive Girl's Guide to Overcoming Fear of Commitment
By Elina Furman. For years, it was the men who had the monopoly on commitment-phobia. Men have been pegged as being out of touch with their emotions, holding out for their perfect dream girl, and running for the hills whenever women so much as mention the dreaded words love or marriage. No doubt about it—say commitment-phobia and most people automatically think men.
Kiss and Run