Hello, my name is Ant and I am a commitment-phobe. I also recently entered a committed, monogamous relationship. Confused? Same, to be honest.
For the last couple of years I’ve had a particular aversion to romantic relationships--I’ve found them to be claustrophobic, unrealistic, and just plain stressful. My last relationship was the most intense I’d ever had; I was head over heels in love, and it ended less than amicably. Since then, I couldn’t stand the idea of entering into an exclusive relationship for anything less than perfection--nothing other than ‘the one’.
It’s no secret that society values romantic relationships and those who are in them. I can’t begin to count the amount of times people would tell me that I’ll “get there eventually” and that I’m “the type of guy who should constantly be in a relationship.” (That one still bugs me, to be frank.) But, where’s the praise for the happy, comfortable singleton?
It’s true to say that we’re becoming more accustomed (slowly as it may be) to the idea that people can be happy and successful without needing or wanting to be in a relationship--but only temporarily. The end goal is always the same: find yourself a happy, stable relationship with a stable job that makes you happy and have as many happy kids as you can whilst still remaining stable. You can only be happy and single for a finite amount of time. Eventually you’d need to find your "other half", your "missing puzzle piece", your--well, you get the idea.
But I was happy being single. I was happy in my own company and comfortable making my own decisions. This idea of a long-term committed relationship simply won’t happen for everyone and that’s totally okay. Some people are just not capable of monogamy and everyone is different. To be honest for a very long time I thought I was incapable (and sometimes I still do).
I have a lot to thank my partner for. She initially introduced herself to me, organised dates for us, and consistently powered through me trying to push her away in an attempt to avoid any kind of commitment. ‘Cause commitment is scary and I’m a scaredy-cat.
She sat and listened intently when I rambled on to her about my complete distaste for this idea of finding someone to “complete you” and that we need to be in a relationship to have any worth. Not only did she listen, but she also agreed; as it turned out she felt extremely similar on these matters.
Even when we started dating regularly, I was unable to call what we had a "relationship"--or call her my "girlfriend"--because suddenly I would start feeling trapped and panicked. It’s only recently that we became "Facebook official", which frankly is a huge deal to me.
When it boils down to it, I think I wanted the freedom to do whatever the hell I wanted--the same kind of freedom I had for the 6 years I chose (or, well, "chose") to be single. But what I’ve come to realize is that when you find someone whom you really and truly enjoy spending time with, committing to them romantically doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice anything. You can still do whatever the hell you want and you can still have your full freedom. You just need to find someone who understands and respects your boundaries.
I still freak out about the relationship every 1-2 weeks (okay, days... okay, hours), and I still worry that I’m not built to be a monogamous person, but I talk to her about it. We regularly sit down and discuss how we’re feeling, whether anything’s bugging one another or whether either of us are freaking out. Honesty and openness keep this (relation)ship sailin’.
Commitment is scary and the idea of devoting yourself to one person is extremely daunting. You are also under no obligation whatsoever to enter into a committed relationship unless you feel it’s the right thing for you to do.
But do remember that you’re a team, and your teammate(s) will do anything they can to keep the team strong. You don’t have to sit and worry in silence: you have someone who wants you to be happy as much as you do--if not more so.
I stopped looking for "the one" because that idea of a person is unattainable. I’ve just found someone whom I care about a great deal, someone who respects me and my needs. And it’s also nice having someone I can tag in cute puppy videos on Facebook.
Cover Image by Ginger Port