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Wow. I just realized why I’m so scared of commitment.

I keep telling myself I want a wife, but if I actually got one, would my purpose disappear?

There are the typical reasons we list off as reasons we struggle with commitment…maybe they’re all lumped underneath one big one:

What if I meet someone better after I start dating ____?

What if I feel trapped and can’t do everything I want to?

What if s/he changes in a few years? Gets fat? Goes bald?

Perhaps pornography, social media, and movies have rendered my committal capabilities to that of a paperclip, always bombarding us with novelty.

And so on.

But today, I realized another reason for my fear of commitment. It’s big. It could be even bigger than all the other factors combined, and as I’ve started to chew on it, I think it could be tragically accurrate.

I realized that my purpose in doing so many of the things I do in my life is for the end goal of attracting women. I work out, partly because I enjoy it, but largely to be attractive. If I were to commit to one woman and end up marrying her, much of my purpose for exercising would vanish; the mission would be over.

Same with many of my other pursuits. Not exclusively, but I love to grow in my education because I want to come off as smart and accomplished…making me more attractive.

I want to learn new skills and hobbies, partly because I enjoy them, but also because I figure that a diversely-skilled Renaissance man is pretty attractive.

Take away the underlying purpose of all these things—attracting a spouse—and suddenly my motivation for joie de vivre disappears too!

It’s like this: Imagine a deer hunter who tells everyone that he just hunts deer for food. One day, he suddenly receives a gift of a lifetime supply of frozen deer, shipped to him monthly. His purpose in life would feel somewhat deflated if hunting deer was his sole aim in life. It was never just about food, but about the thrill, the purpose it gave him, the teleos. Now that he has accomplished his goal of accumulating deer, what does he have left? He has deer/food, sure, but he now lacks purpose, thrill, and a teleological aim.

This is scary because in many ways it exposes an idol; it lays bare something I’ve worshiped from a young age. I’ve realized that by elevating a relationship with a woman (or the pursuit of one) to a godlike status in my mind, I’ll never be satisfied by the actual success of a relationship. Like the deer hunter, if I receive a lifetime supply of affection from one woman, I will lack purpose, thrill, aim.

This, I’m realizing at it sinks in, is the problem with elevating anything that’s not infinite to the position of god in your mind. It will be exhausted and you will be left hungry. I could marry the most ravishing woman on the planet and eventually start to crave that chase, that pursuit, that high again. Not even because there is a problem with my marriage or my wife, but because I’d have emptied myself of purpose, if my purpose in life is attracting a spouse.

I tell myself and my friends and readers that I want nothing more than a wife, but simultaneously fear that I’d have no further motivation or purpose if I were to actually attain one. I’m like the Joker in The Dark Knight, “I’m like a dog chasing cars…I wouldn’t know what to do if I actually caught one!”

And I’m tragically good at chasing cars (read: women). I’ll almost always get replies back on dating apps, or get the phone number when I ask for it. Sometimes, even when I don’t ask. Yet I somehow believe I want the chase to end? I want one of my biggest drives in life to suddenly evaporate by entering into a relationship?

This is the tension I’ve realized.

Take away dating, take away the thrill of pursuit, and you take away my purpose.

I feel the thalassophobia rising up as I peer over the edge of the depths. I wonder if I’ll ever be brave enough to take the plunge, not into uncertainty but into certainty! Into waking up beside the same person every morning and never experiencing that thrill of tumbling into love again with a stranger.

Will I be bored?

Or have I just been worshiping the wrong thing?

Perhaps, in my dating, I’ve been looking for less of a friend and companion and more of a satiation of my purpose in life. One woman I dated observed, “You keep thinking about the negatives of being in a relationship and neglecting the benefits!” She’s not wrong.

Making vows is for the clinically insane, or at least, the bold. Part of me (perhaps wisely?) wants to wait until I’m in a place where I feel like I can commit to a woman and honor it.

Maybe I need to adjust my vision to something more inexhaustible. Then, perhaps, this hunt for a partner will be less daunting, less pressurized, and less impossible.

Maybe I just need to go a little more mad.


9 comments on “Wow. I just realized why I’m so scared of commitment.

  1. I can relate to this somewhat. For me it’s also an insecurity—I want to be successful at work because if I’m not, people won’t find me attractive. I workout mostly for mental health and I was a runner in college (read: if I don’t run and/or workout every day, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much, and people will not find me attractive). It’s been taking me some time to realize that my identity isn’t in my fitness or work, it’s in Christ. I really do want a husband someday and kids, and I have a lot to learn, and a lot more internal work to do before I attract anyone, but still. Marriage sounds appealing but at the same time, hard. Thanks for your openness though, and here’s to finding the right person for you!

    • Christophe Reynier

      Hello ! Here are some comments regarding Religions from a European guy, based in France.
      What amazes me is the capacity of our American fellows to call the Christ (for the Christians) at any moments, and in public, instead of sharing meditation and philosophical thoughts that can be shared by a wider audience.
      I am not against the idea of religion (religio in Latin means linking), but against the idea that God will solve all our problems, because that position prevents me from thinking by myself.
      If I was American I would question how my society stands vis-à-vis energy consumption, world pollution, excessive circulation of guns. How come the USA with 4% of World population consume 16% of World energy, when Europe (EU) with 6% of the world population uses 12% of World energy, finally the figures for China are 18,7% for its population and 20,8% for energy ?'%C3%A9nergie_des_principaux_pays

      Conclusion : the USA use 4 times more energy in relative terms (of the weighting of their population as % of the World population), the EU the double, and China is roughly balanced.
      Energy means pollution, pollution means exhaustion of our Planet !
      More interestingly the EU and China are the geographic zone that spend the most in energy saving. Our cars are small, we travel a lost by trains, thanks to an efficient railways network.

      Regarding weapons, the number of mass murder every year in the USA (Colombine…) is increadible compared with the EU, Russia, China, Brazil… This is not surprising when you realize that only the USA allow easily the purchase of guns.

      The problem I have with God is that the All Mighty doesn’t deal with thoses issues, and those issues ARE important today. By telling everybody Imet God, I buy for myself a good conscience, and I go to the store and buy more guns, and joins the NRA.

      Will the American people OPEN their eyes and look at the World that surrounds them or should the World ignore and marginalise them ?

      I would be interested in reading you views in that respect.

  2. Dude, this hit home for me. When it comes to the idea of dating a man of God that pursues with intentionality, I don’t know how to actually be in a relationship with them because my focus has been on attaining them. There’s a meme that says something along the lines of, “I don’t know what to do with a boyfriend. Do I walk him? Feed him?” But I’ve found myself crippled with fear of what commitment means long term. I like change when it comes to style, hair color, geographical location, and the list goes on. I often question if I’d want to change spouses eventually but that’s where that intentionality I crave comes in. Honoring God while staying intentional with the man I marry one day. It’s encouraging to know the thought process is one that is understood.


  3. Hi there, Ethan – it’s been a while! Thank you for writing this — I think it is incredibly bold, and incredibly relatable (even to single women). Perhaps these things weren’t as blatant in my singleness, but were definitely still there. As a newly married person, I can confirm many of these fears you have about marriage (sorry!). Being single the entirety of my life, it was only natural that the “ways” I existed as a single person didn’t just go away after the wedding day. My husband and I confessed to each other many times in our first months of marriage that we would look lustfully at other men/women walking down the street (because that was a habit we were so used to in our singleness). So I just want to bring some comfort there — single habits don’t just go away (but that also doesn’t mean we should use that as an excuse for not growing in our marriage). As hard as this “transition” has been, at the end of the day I can look to my husband and know that his “purpose” is not to bring me complete joy and satisfaction, but that he is the one that God chose for me to help me become more of who God created me to be (and there’s a whole lot of mushy, lovey-dovey feelings in there too). And re: the vows — the whole point of vows it to point to our insufficiency to uphold any of them, and to look to the One who can. Hope you’re doing well, Ethan!

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Ethan. It’s huge that you recognized this in yourself and are aware of what you may have really been chasing in a relationship. Admission is the first step, and it’s a step that a lot of people never reach because doing the work to examine our flaws and motivations is hard and often tough to reckon with. Praying that God continues to reveal your purpose to you!

  5. Maybe we start applying what we know to be true and start seeking Jesus first and wholly with everything we have, since fulfillment only comes through and with Him. I’ve tried everything else. I’ll try this now. When you’re filled with Him the focus shifts and it’s no longer about your purpose, yourself, women or the chase. Chase Him and the thrill of women will pale in comparison once intimacy with the lover of your soul intensifies. The real question here is what is His purpose for you and not your purpose for yourself. Because you’re right, nothing will ever satiate you if the focus is on you. He promises that when we put Him first, everything else is given to us, including relationships. And when he shows you who your wife is, your covenant purpose together will be greater than what you could ever have done apart.


    • Matt Podoll

      This is a fantastic and factual response. There is no debating this biblical truth. I am a 49 year old christian man, married. Let God set it up – everything. take your hands off the wheel

  6. Read the Molecule of More by Lieberman and Long. A lot the things you write and talk about would receive fresh light for you if you read that book.

  7. I’ve been married for 24 years and yes, this is an area where you decide to grow or you have affairs or fantasies, missing out what what you have right now, missing your present moment. Missing out on your present moment could be the greatest tragedy of all. As I approach age 50 and I’ve already said goodbye to one parent likely soon to another, the most deeply painful regrets are looking back and knowing I didn’t appreciate what I had in each moment.

    It was something I struggled with for several years after getting married at the age of 23. We had some hard years. We learned to continue to be two people with dreams and goals, supporting and loving each other. It’s been incredibly hard and incredibly beautiful. Don’t fear it.

    I’m currently reading Beatrice Chestnut’s “The Complete Enneagram” which delves into three instinctual subtypes. We are all three but we each have one that dominates our beliefs on what we need to survive.

    An overly simplified explanation:

    Self-preservation — I can only rely on myself, my survival relies on being strong and protected

    Sexual/One-on-one — my survival depends on my relationship with that one specific person in my life

    Social — my survival depends on the group that I cultivate

    It might be a topic that interests you.

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