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“We have to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is a commitment unless there is loyalty unless there is love, patience, persistence.” ~ Cornel West
Commitment is such a broad term that carries so much weight.
It’s a term that demands careful thought and understanding. Yet we don’t give it the attention and consideration it deserves.
When it comes to relationships, so many of us skip the part where we sit and reflect on the various aspects of a relationship.
In fact, before we even reflect on a relationship, we need to reflect on our own self. It is only through this mindful observation of our own self can we truly realise the extent of our commitment toward ourselves and others.
While being on autopilot is great, it doesn’t do much to enhance the quality of our lives beyond a certain point, and commitment in a relationship certainly cannot and should not stem from this mode.
Committing to someone is about dedicating your time, energy, emotional, and physical self. It is about being with someone for a long period of time, investing in them, and allowing them to do the same.
This sense of dedication and belonging to someone is the foundation of building a good relationship. However, most of us jump to the good part without really doing any ground work.
We want the easy bits—the ones that are light, breezy, fun, filled with romance, passion, fairy tales—but refuse to do the grunt work of laying the foundation right. After all, we humans have a natural tendency to gravitate toward anything that is easy and doesn’t require much effort.
And the truth is that all relationships require effort before certain aspects within the relationship become effortless.
So what is it that stops us from being mindful and grounded about whom we are committing or not committing to?
Most of us look at relationships from the perspective of fear; that’s why we create or find ourselves in experiences that leave us broken and bitter.
Either we commit to someone because we’re afraid of being alone or we don’t want to commit because of the fear of the unpleasant consequences that may take place in the future.
Hence, we’re either approaching relationships from the past or the future. The present almost always gets lost.
When we speak of the so-called commitment issues, we are largely talking about two ways of approaching relationships.
In the first one, we don’t want to commit. Everything is fine till the relationship is comfortable, easy, and our partner isn’t asking or demanding for much.
The question of “where is the relationship really going?” doesn’t feature in the scheme of things at all and it’s all good.
However, the minute things start getting serious and the question of the relationship’s future pops up, someone begins to withdraw. This someone is the partner who is driven by certain fear and insecurities that make them want to push the other partner away.
The inability to commit to a long-term relationship or take any relationship forward with a sense of responsibility and dedication mainly stems from:
>> Unpleasant past experiences in relationships
>> Relationship trauma
>> Fear of being hurt
>> Fear that you may not be good enough for your partner and you don’t want to hurt them, so you start pulling back
>> Childhood trauma
The inability to commit is not about just one relationship. Rather, it’s a long standing pattern that shows up as extreme discomfort when our partner expresses their needs or asks for something more than what we’re offering to them or wants to up the ante a bit.
That’s when patterns of disconnection and withdrawal start to show up as:
>> Avoiding talking about or making future plans with your partner
>> Avoiding thinking about the future of the relationship
>> Emotional disconnection with your partner
>> Avoiding calls or texts from your partner
>> Avoiding self-disclosure
>> Poor communication
>> Ending the relationship abruptly
On the other hand, if someone commits to a long-term goal in the nascent stages of a relationship and throws themselves in it totally, without considering important factors, that’s a problem too!
Wanting to take the relationship to some sort of conclusion right in the beginning without spending time to know each other, assessing compatibility, aligning visions and goals is like hopping onto an incoming vehicle without really knowing where it’s headed.
This, again, is unhealthy because committing too soon or making grand promises and basing our entire life on one person stems from a deep rooted fear of not wanting to be left alone. Hence the urgency, and it often shows up as:
>> Looking for/being in rebound relationships
>> Over-sharing, being too vulnerable, and trusting someone you’ve just started dating too soon
>> Inability to be on your own and constantly trying to make plans with your new partner
>> Saying “I love you” right at the onset
>> Imagining future scenarios with someone you’ve known for a short span of time
>> Ignoring your own non-negotiables in the relationship
This tendency to invest too much, too soon, in a relationship also stems from this fear of being alone or being unworthy.
Then, a relationship or having a partner becomes the only barometer with which we measure our worth. It often leads individuals to think that their life will be nothing without a partner. So they must always be with one.
This tendency also has its roots in fear stemming from a lot of factors like past unpleasant experiences, issues with self-worth, abandonment trauma, and so on.
Thus, having commitment issues isn’t always about not being able to commit or running away from relationships. It’s also about giving in too much, too soon. Both patterns stem from underlying fear and insecurity.
“If you carry bricks from your past relationship, you will end up in the same house.” ~ Anonymous
So then what do you do?
You take time to:
- Build awareness about yourself and your patterns.
- You figure out your core needs and wants from a relationship.
- You understand what kind of a partner and relationship you’re looking for.
- When you meet someone, you take time to get to know them—their past, their present, future goals, values, ambitions, lifestyle, ways of handling conflict, their preferences, and so on. You get to know as much as you can before you come up with long-term plans.
- You assess whether this individual feels aligned with you or not.
- You work together to build the kind of relationship you both want to have.
- You learn to understand and support each other’s baggage.
- You learn to handle conflict effectively, making sure that you both feel heard, validated, and understood.
- But most importantly, you work on being secure within yourself so that you can make a conscious choice of being in or out of relationships without feeling edgy or uncomfortable with your choices.
At the end of the day, a relationship should feel like home. It shouldn’t serve as a refuge or a space that feels stifling.
No matter the baggage you’re carrying, this person you’re choosing to dedicate yourself to should feel like a home that you would always want to come back to because you feel safe, secure, respected, and loved.
In a healthy relationship, there is little room for fear. There is only warmth and security.
“A relationship is not based on the length of time you’ve spent together. It’s based on the foundation you built together.” ~ Anonymous
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