Fear of Commitment: If I want to be partnered, why am I still single?

Fear of commitment? Why am I still single? You have the job thing nailed down. You are doing the work that you love for a good salary. Your career is on track. Now, you've decided that you'd like to do something about your personal life. You are thinking about a committed relationship or marriage and maybe children. You are accustomed to articulating your goals and achieving them. You take personal stock. You have a lot going for you. You are attractive, personable, fun, smart and outgoing. You become involved in the dating scene.

You think that you have met Mr. or Ms. Right. You share common interests, common friends and common ideas and, you believe, common goals. Then somehow, much to your dismay, things go awry. You learn that your partner wasn't really thinking about the, "to death do us part" thing. Not at all. Visits to the family. Visits to the ailing grandmother. Talking about a future and children. That all meant something very different to your partner than it did to you. You discover that there's a disparity between each of your goals. Or, still worse, you thought that you had a monogamous relationship and now you learn that your "partner" was unfaithful. So, you break up or your partner does.

Whether you were several months into the relationship or several years, that kind of disappointment is truly hurtful. It's worse, if this is not the first time. This is not something that you want to repeat. So, you talk it over with your closest friends, the ones who you really trust. And, to your surprise, many of them admit that they saw the warning signs but "didn't think that it was their place to say anything".

You're a little miffed because you wish they would have said something. But, you can understand why they might feel that that would backfire. And too, you wonder, why didn't you see those elusive warning signs. After all, they were apparently obvious to everyone else. You note that you are generally a perceptive person -- can readily see the foibles in the relationships of others. So, what has happened here? And, how can you prevent it from, ever, happening again.

As you talk it over with your friends they each give you a list of "warning signs". "Don't date anyone over 35 who has never been married," one cautions. Don't date anyone who hasn't had a previous long-term relationship another warns. As well intended as they may be, the lists may lead to a mis-focus. Because the real thing to consider here is probably not the conundrum of "mate-selection". Rather, it is: why have you, albeit probably unconsciously, been drawn to someone who is unavailable. Assuming that you are a bright, competent person, this is probably not a problem of the "wrong list". You might think of the problem with "mate-selection" as a symptom of something else that has gone awry. Think of it as the tip of the iceberg. That is, view it as an indication that something, unseen, lies beneath the surface.

Part VIII: Questions to ask yourself if you are afraid of intimacy

The column above, by Dr. Lynn Friedman, was originally published on the DC Web Women site

If you read this column, you may find this article on, Why do people engage in self-destructive and self-sabotaging behavior, to be interesting.

Also, you may find this column on, Self-concept and self-esteem self-destructive and self-sabotaging behavior, to be interest.

If you'd like to seek a consultation regarding your difficulties with commitment or intimacy, feel free to call Dr. Lynn Friedman at 301.656.9650.

Seeking a consultation with Washington DC psychologist Dr. Friedman? Feel free to give her a call at: 301.656.9650

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