“I was a wimpy manchild, afraid of meaningful commitments, afraid of being alone, afraid of rejection, afraid of the future, afraid of being betrayed, afraid of being loved,” Matt Walsh confesses in one of his highly entertaining blog rants. “Just afraid, really. Afraid of everything.” As I read Matt’s blog post, my eyes slowed down and skidded over these words. I could relate to everything Matt said…everything except the “manchild” part.
The truth is, I make my fair share of mistakes when it comes to love, but the greatest mistake I have ever made is to be afraid to love and it’s high time I admit that.
As a teenager I developed a fear of broken promises and the prospect of broken marriages. I was lucky to witness lasting love in my own family and in many other couples around me, but what about everyone else? What will prevent me from making a promise to someone who will one day break it? I’ll never forget the time a high school boyfriend told me that love was a feeling. I remember feeling fear prickle over me as I realized that, if this was true—if love is a feeling that can fade, blip out in a distracted moment, or even pass away—I could never trust it.
After high school my fear grew as I realized just how much I wanted to be loved and how vulnerable I was if I chose to give someone my heart. So I did what most people do when they are afraid, I ran. I ran from one fling to the next and each one of those relationships confirmed my worst fear about love, that it hurts you and that it can’t be trusted. So I enjoyed the highs of short-lived romances, but dodged commitment like a trap. I was, as Matt describes, “afraid of being alone”. But every day I chose to be that way.
Surveys suggest that I’m not the only one running. PEW studies show that 61% of single Americans hope to one day get married and list “love” as the number one reason to do it. And yet, marriages are at an all time low, with barely half of us married. The weirdest part yet, is that most single Americans say they are not actively seeking a romantic partner and, out of those “seeking a relationship”, about half are dating infrequently or not at all!
If we want love and marriage, why are we running away from commitment?
We all seem to agree that we would marry for love, but the truth is, we will never find that love outside of commitment. In order to ever grow old with someone—to have someone in good times and bad—you have to choose and commit.Yes, love can be scary when it’s just a sharing of feelings or a whispered promise. But when love is a choice made every day—a commitment in action as well as words—it becomes something we can rely on when life gets scary.
As you might have guessed, I’m not running anymore. I know now that finding lasting love is not only about odds or statistics—it demands making a commitment and that part is completely up to me and my future husband.