Below is my Love Essentially column, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press, where I offer dating advice to a woman who wants to know, “Is it ME? Or am I with the wrong guy?”
Afraid of Marriage or Dating Mr. Wrong? by Jackie Pilossoph
Jackie, I need some advice. My friend says I am commitment-phobic because I break up with my boyfriend every time he talks about moving in together or marriage. Do you think she is right?
It is difficult to answer your question without knowing more details such as:
Have you ever been married before?
Do you have kids?
How old are both of you?
How long have you known each other?
Do you have the same long-term goals and dreams?
Are you truly happy in the relationship?
These are all important factors when it comes to knowing if getting married is right for you. That said, here is what I can tell you just based on the information I have.
There are many “commitment-phobic” men and women out there, and all have different reasons for it. For example, I know a man whose parents divorced when he was a kid, and because his experience was so painful – watching his parents’ marriage deteriorate and then seeing them go through a horrendous divorce, he is very afraid of getting married and having kids. There are also many divorced or widowed men and women who avoid getting into a serious relationship for fear they will be hurt and/or possibly divorced again. Then there are those who enjoy being independent and living alone, and by personal choice decide to live life as a single person.
But, I do have another strong theory. Maybe this guy isn’t “the one” for you. Maybe you aren’t commitment-phobic at all. Perhaps you really want to be married, you just don’t want to be married to him.
In my heart, I believe that if two people truly love each other, neither of them will break it off because they can’t bear being apart. It’s as simple as that. Now, do I know several couples who broke up before they eventually got back together and got married? Yes. Maybe some couples need to be break up to realize the depth of their love and commitment. But, in your case, it sounds like you have distanced yourself multiple times with this man. You might want to ask yourself why you have been willing to let him go more than once.
Only time will tell whether you are commitment-phobic or if you’re just not in love.
What I mean by that is a few things could end up happening in your future. One, you could talk yourself into not being afraid and you could end up getting engaged or moving in with your boyfriend. You could then either realize you had a fear that was unwarranted and live happily ever after, or you could end up moving out, breaking off the engagement, or worst of all, getting divorced because you made the wrong decision and didn’t listen to your gut.
Another possibility for you is that you break it off with this guy, take some time for yourself, and then meet another man who you can’t wait to move in with and marry. You will then realize you weren’t commitment-phobic at all!
Here’s the thing. Living with someone and being married is not easy. It’s hard enough being in a serious relationship or a marriage even without fear and apprehension. So many divorced men and women I know will tell you they had doubts before they were married, but that they went through with it anyhow.