Hopelessly Romantic Commitment-phobe
by Christy Carl-Sillman
Ever since I was in grade school I have wanted a boyfriend – some guy to fulfill my dreams of walking through the school hand in hand, to carry my books, and to dance with at the school dance. It was a fantasy which was the motivation behind every move I made. I even craved the excitement of a dramatic break-up, which later would help me to realize just how much of a commitment-phobe this romantic really is.
I didn’t really even have a guy worth mentioning until I was out of high school. Sure there were random make-out sessions at parties, but no one really captured my heart. It wasn’t until I fell madly in love with my best friend that I got a taste of real love. Although, now I can see, part of the reason I fell for him was because of how emotionally unavailable he was to me. Then later he truly was unavailable when he got a girlfriend despite a wavering romance between the two of us. This was the hardest anti-commitment of them all, most likely because it was my first love, which is always the hardest, but at this point I wasn’t on to my own commitment issues and blamed him for my broken heart.
There would only be three more guys before I met my husband Steve. All of them followed my subconscious love sabotage pattern, including my husband. There was the cute guy who was moving back to Vermont at the end of the summer, the drug addict, and then the douche who went off into the Navy. He’s not a douche because he went to the Navy; he’s a douche because he’s a douche. I was hopeless for all these guys – trying to convince my best friend we should be more than friends without actually saying it, professing my Sandy-to-Danny summer love to the guy from Vermont, trying to save the drug addict and visiting him in detox and rehab, and sending the sailor letters every single day so he knew there was someone back home cheering him on. All the while I could not see my own pattern of falling for guys who were unavailable to my romantic ideals, if not physically but emotionally.
Then I met Steve, and right from the start I knew he was different. He approached me in the most adorable and romantic way – after a lovely conversation at a dinner party he pulled me aside just to tell me that I was the most beautiful person, he couldn’t keep his eyes off of me, and the he was not ashamed to admit it – then he proceeded to run out of the restaurant in an attempt to avoid any sort of rejection from me. I ate his romance up with a spoon, and chased after him via email. He was perfect: he was wildly romantic, emotionally available, and yet he still fulfilled my ultimate commitment-phobe needs by living an hour and a half away at college while also working two jobs. There was no way this long-distant relationship would actually work. He also came on fairly strong, which scared the bejesus out of me.
In my first attempt to break-up with him it seemed as though even my internal organs knew it was a dumb move. My plan was foiled when the night before our first date where I would initiate the “lets just be friends talk” I was rushed into emergency surgery for an appendicitis. When I woke up from surgery to find Steve at my bedside with a bouquet of flowers in his hand, and a general look of concern for my wellbeing, the romantic in me locked the commitment-phobe in the closet. My parents were also impressed with both his care for me and his love of the Sacramento Kings Basketball team. When he didn’t run after my mom pointed to me in the hospital bed and said to him “if you want to keep dating her, get use to this,” I knew I had to hang onto him a little longer.
Throughout my recovery we fell deeper and deeper in love. He took really great care of me, and drove down often, even if just for a few hours, to help me. All the while my inner commitment-phobe was pounding on the closet door, reminding me of my ultimate fears. At the first sight of conflict the closet door busted open and I actually had the “lets just be friends conversation” with Steve.
His response was classic, heroic, and ultimately the stuff dreams are made of. He said “no” to my friend proposal, then went on to tell me that he would be sad without me but that he would be ok, but that I would never find a man that will care for me or treat me the way he does and that maybe I would not be ok if I walked away from him. With those words I kicked the commitment-phobes ass out of my soul.
To this day I can not even believe I tried to walk away from Steve. Thank god my husband is the type of man who fights for what he believes in, and is patient enough to recognize that I needed time to actually see what we have together. Our relationship has it’s moments of drama and arguments, but we’re a solid team, committed to fighting through this world together. Steve was totally right – I couldn’t imagine anyone would ever love me as amazingly as he does, and now as I watch him with our son, I couldn’t imagine I could love anyone more than him.