I’ve always been commitment-oriented, but not always for the right reasons. I felt a void in me of some kind, a sense of inadequacy, a sense that someone else telling me I’m enough would somehow ring true and I would finally “feel enough”.
I’m still commitment-oriented, but now for way way healthier reasons. I commit to myself, to growth, to relationships, to understanding pain (my own and others’), to connections, to being there for people. I try to do this increasingly unconditionally so long as I am not compromising my sense of self in the process, and so long as I have enough to give.
There are 3 – and only 3 – reasons to not want to commit to someone.
1. EASY: You don’t like them (enough). The “enough” can be really confusing to the person who likes you more. If you are the person being rejected, take it as “this person doesn’t like me” – it makes it easier to set a sharp boundary and a sharp line for yourself. If you’re the person who doesn’t like the other person (enough), you know exactly what this feeling is: yeahsure, this person is fine and all, but you’re not particularly interested in building the kind of intimacy they are. And, if you’re in this boat, your feelings are relatively *easy* to understand and deal with. You look at someone and go “yeah ok, but like no thanks.” (If you find yourself feeling that “you’re not sure how you feel,” you likely do not like this person enough at this point in time but it could also be point 2 or point 3 on this list.) If you find you are guilt-ridden about not liking someone, you have some stuff to sort out. Feelings are feelings – they are, to an extent, fickle. I once chatted with an imam about the instant connection I felt for someone and you know what he said? “Yes, perhaps it means in jannat (heaven), you were quite close to this person – like a little soul family. You know sometimes you may meet someone and you just don’t click with them right away – for no reason! We just say, that person was a little farther from you in heaven 😛 ” That’s it. Chemistry, explained by an imam. If that’s not good enough, I don’t know what is – basically: you can’t beat yourself up for having feelings OR for not having feelings. If you’re on the receiving end of rejection because the person just doesn’t like you, I mean come on. It has literally nothing to do with your self worth, who you are or what you’re capable of! You can’t internalize that noise – or else you’ll risk not liking yourself because of what someone else thinks about you. You have to have a sense of what you like about yourself and what you dislike about yourself that is relatively independent of what people think about you. This isn’t to say people’s opinions don’t matter, but it needs to be feedback that makes sense from a self improvement perspective. if someone just doesn’t have feelings for you, that’s not a question of self improvement – it’s a question of chemical jannat-style attraction.
***The “Early Days” Caveat***: Sometimes, you don’t like them enough….yet – and that is a different feeling than not liking them enough. This is one of those moments where you don’t actually have to make a decision yet – it’s too early in the game to say “I’m in” or “I’m out”. You’re waiting and seeing. You don’t like them enough….yet….but in a few weeks or months you feel you *might* – and that’s a good reason to still date someone non exclusively, especially in the early days of getting to know someone.
2. HARD: You don’t like yourself (enough). Ooh. This one is totally fucked up. You don’t want to commit even though you like the other person? But why?! Because you are actually so convinced of your own worthlessness, that even someone else accepting you isn’t a relief in any way – it ends up feeling terrifying, because it means you now have to live up to someone’s idea that you’re in fact an ok human. You actually DO like this person – quite a bit -but if you were with them, they’d just FIND OUT who you REALLY are and we can’t have that can we? only you can know your own shit so commitment becomes a non-option because you’ll obviously feel inadequate and miserable around this person. You have to learn that people will accept you if they like you. Worse, if you don’t like yourself enough, you may not totally know what you like in others or dislike. When you like yourself enough to date someone else, you know what you can offer, you know your feelings, you can value your feelings of vulnerability and connection and not feel weird or dorky about it. When you don’t like yourself enough, your idea about commitment is constantly shifting to what the other person thinks/wants/etc – not in a balanced “healthy relationship” way, but in a “how do I keep them around?!” way.) Even worse, what if they start to rely on you? You’re unreliable, don’t they KNOW that?! You have to prevent this at all cost because there’s no way you could be there for someone and while you would love it if this person was there for you, you know deep down you are incapable of being there for someone else, so how could you possibly he he he he he *dissolves into ferengi laughter* hoo-man relationships are just silly anyhow.
Look, this is you:
But don’t worry! You can change! I believe you will eventually evolve, my little Ferengi, into a hoo-man, and maybe even a human
3. HARDEST: Some weird combo of the above. What an awful position to be in – you don’t know where your responsibility is in what you’re offering or why you’re offering it. :O how do you have a relationship with anyone?
1. Know who you are,
2. Know what you like, and intrinsically value the fact that you are able to care deeply about someone.
3. Be open to receiving love
4. Be open to leaving if love is not there
and then? Just keep finding people you like and want to connect with. It doesn’t matter if they reject you – the point is not that rejection won’t happen with this method. The point is, eventually, rejection will stop mattering because you are open to receiving love, and open to leaving if love is not there. The point is: you will eventually find someone you like, while being sure of your feelings for them, and they will also show their feelings for you. Your process filters out the ones that do not fit the above criteria, and that means that while rejection happens, you’re never going to care if rejection happens.
The amount of self knowledge and self love you need to pull this off is monumental though, and I’m not going to lie, it took me forever to get there. But these days, a rejection just means I’ve saved time. Rejection doesn’t even mean that I hold feelings of resentment – why should I? I enjoy liking someone! I enjoy my butterflies. I enjoy offering love. I’m glad I got to feel that for someone. If they change and come back later, I might be open to that depending on how it ended or where I’m at in my own life.
There is only 1 reason to want to commit to someone:
You see a life with them that promotes the best of both of you where you can both be vulnerable with one another. The spark is there. The confusion is not. You like them. You see it working. You are happy to be vulnerable with them. You are happy if they are vulnerable with you. Notice I made this all about you. It is about you. Your feelings of commitment are about you – they say nothing about the other person. So: You need this feeling of sureness about how you feel about the other person AND! The solution (listed above) needs to be working, ie: you feel these things in the previously established context of:
1. knowing who you are.
2. knowing what you like, and intrinsically valuing the fact that you are able to care deeply about someone.
3. being open to receiving love.
4. being open to leaving if love is not there.
(You can’t forget – those are the steps to “The Solution”. It’s called the solution for a reason! )
You can want commitment with someone who suddenly does an about-turn on you and you realise they’re not ready to commit – they’re floating between Reasons 1-3 of why they don’t want to commit. And that’s ok! That’s their business.
It’s not your business any longer.
(Advanced level stuff: if you are able to wish them well genuinely, even after they leave, that’s awesome – it means you’re genuinely prioritising point 2 of the solution – and most beautifully, your prioritisation does not depend on if someone leaves or stays. Isn’t that amazing? Note that point 2 doesn’t insist on BEING with anyone or imposing on anyone with your feelings. It just means: you’re not dead inside. Yay! And if you’re consciously feeling emotions of care for someone who left without it affecting you or destabilizing your inner peace, you’ve unlocked a serious life-step: You are able to be a good person without expectation of reward. This is actually what people mean by unconditional love.)
Look, if this list doesn’t work, do what I did:
1. Recover from major depression.
2. Recover from generalized anxiety disorder.
3. Confront your Fear. About everything.
4. Confront your Loneliness.
5. Consider what Love means to you.
6. Begin a regimen of regular meditation.
7. Date god (I wish I was joking)
8. Learn yourself – figure out who the fuck you are. Get real about it. Compassion helps at this stage, SPRINKLE COMPASSION LIBERALLY HERE.
9. Cut out everything about yourself you hate.
10. Fill yourself with things you love
11. Discover who you want to be – start working towards that.
12. Love yourself.
13. Discover inner peace – the kind that is a steady flame in a hurricane.
14. Offer love unconditionally – within the framework of “The Solution”.
15. Date someone and have shit work out.
Remember always: Nothing is lost. Nothing is even truly gained. E2=E1=constant. But if you can find someone to share time with, share space with, share love with, do it.
(I’m at step 14 – how about you? 😛 )