Originally published Monday, 17 February 2014.
Okay, okay. Maybe I'm playing a little too much into the stereotypes here. But, countless girlfriends and I have had similar conversations over cocktails, coffee and chips and salsa course at Mexican restaurants:
Are we still living in a world where men are the only ones fearful of commitment?
One girlfriend in particular and I recently shared our fears that have surfaced while we've been dating, and some of the odd discussions we've had with the opposite sex.
She told me about a conversation she had with the guy she had been dating pretty seriously for a spell. Without warning, during dinner one night he brought up the "M" word.
And it freaked. Her. Out. Big time.
"It's almost like the roles have reversed," she told me that night between sips of her margarita. "He's the one pushing for this idea of forever and ever---but I still feel like I have all of this stuff I want to accomplish before I settle down. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around..."
Some of the same things can be said about dating relationships, too.
Committing to a long-term relationship is a big decision. It's full of many, many risks. Especially where the heart is concerned.
And it can be completely overwhelming, even frightening, for many of us. Especially when you take into consideration that our hearts are involved.
For my friend, this fear of commitment didn't come from a lack of wanting romance, it came from a place of deep insecurity. She thought that by committing to this person long-term, that perhaps there would be an enhanced set of obligations or expectations.
She wasn't wrong, of course. It's a relationship.
Expectations run wild in relationships.
Don't believe me? Check your Facebook/Instagram feed on February 14th. And check with the ladies you know to see if their significant other performed the romantic holiday flawlessly.
Speaking from someone whose cat threw up on the hood her boyfriend's car on a Valentine's day long ago in a galaxy far away (high school), these expectations are very rarely met.
And what about the expectations that come along with a life together? What about the pressures specifically saved for women. To perform flawlessly in marriage, child-raising, careers and church communities? Proverbs 31 and whatnot?
No wonder some of us are a little freaked at the expectation of commitment. Even to a dating relationship.
Because first comes love...then comes...well, you know how it goes.
But perhaps the fear isn't really drawn from the thought of being in a relationship at all. Perhaps it lies in the fear of not measuring up. Maybe the fear of commitment doesn't mean what we've conditioned ourselves to believe.
Maybe a fear of commitment is actually fear of what we're missing. Of what we don't have to offer.
Maybe the true commitment we need to release ourselves from is the thought process of what a healthy relationship does not look like: a set of expectations and laundry list of dos and don'ts.