Can't Commit to a Long Term Relationship
June 30, 2011 4:32 PM   Subscribe

My problem is that I can't commit long term to romantic relationships. This commitment phobia automatically colors me as a bad person because the right thing to do in this society is to find that one special person and commit to them for the rest of your life. (ideally)

In every relationship I've ever been in I've been the one to do the dumping. I've never had my heart broken. In one relationship a guy cheated on me and I found myself not caring.

I do form romantic bonds and attachments towards other people, but after a period of time the feelings of romance and passion evaporate.

I recently came out of a 3.5 year relationship with a guy I had a really strong bond with. We connected on a deep personal level and had a great friendship in addition to a great relationship. Yet when he started talking about marriage and more serious commitment I began to experience a high amount of anxiety and depression. It was as if I had been placed into a box with no horizon or freedom in sight.

I ended up breaking with the guy, and now he won't even talk/be friends with me.

I feel that I'm a good person. I'm upfront about my commitment issues. I've never cheated on anyone. Rather, I left the relationship as soon as the desire began to occur. Most of my friends and family think I'm a person with strong personal ethics. Yet, because of this culture's norms, I'm an immoral person because I can't commit.

I do end up getting into relationships hoping for a casual movie and dinner once a week type thing. But it always turns into a situation where the guy has stronger feelings for me than I do for him, and I end up breaking his heart. I'm tired of breaking people's hearts and feel like perhaps I should just forever be alone.

As a child I witnessed much spousal abuse between my parents, and was even abused myself in many ways. My parents had a violent, nasty divorce. There were frequent calls to the police and even a night where I had to clean up a pool of my mother's blood.

Sorry for the graphic imagery. But I'm just trying to explain my fear better.

Is there anyone else out there like me?
posted by BettyBurnheart to Human Relations (36 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. There are lots of other people out there like you. You're not an immoral person because you cannot commit. You're not an immoral person, period. There are lots of people who would agree with my assessment in that regard.
posted by The World Famous at 4:40 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

It would be helpful to know how old you are.
posted by mareli at 4:41 PM on June 30, 2011

Response by poster: To answer your question Mareli, I'm in my early 20's.
posted by BettyBurnheart at 4:43 PM on June 30, 2011

Sounds about like my 20s. I don't consider myself to have commitment problems. I tried out various people for varying lengths of time and eventually broke up with them when it wasn't working for me. Through those experiences I learned and grew and figured out a lot of really important things about who I am, what I want, what kind of person I do/don't want to be with.

The only relationship that didn't get stale and frustrating within a couple of years (or months) was the one I married. We've only been together about 8.5 years but I'm totally not sick of him at all, which was definitely the case with my other 8 or so boyfriends. Not everybody gets married at 17; lots of people feel their way for a long time before they get it right.

I'm pretty sure I'm normal and so are you. My dad was an asshole but it was not the sort of truly awful situation you describe, but I think you might be seeing causation where there isn't necessarily any - except your sensitivity about it, which is certainly something cognitive-behavioral therapy is really good on working on.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:44 PM on June 30, 2011

You are in your early twenties and you just had a 3.5 year relationship. Nothing about that sounds like a phobia of commitment.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:51 PM on June 30, 2011 [27 favorites]

This may have tons to do with your past -- or maybe nothing at all. I've certainly been in situations where I have felt exactly (or pretty close) to you about a long term commitment, and my past is nothing like yours. Likewise, there are people who come from divorced parents and violent, shitty histories who long for the safety of a committed relationship.

My recommendation is that you stop thinking about these things as your "commitment issues" and instead think about them as "how you feel about commitment." There's no reason why the way you want to live your life should have to meet society's standards. It might limit your search for partners -- but it seems like it's doing that already. By letting the world know how you feel -- and giving yourself permission to feel that way -- you'll better find a suitable match.

Who knows? Maybe you'll end up finding a match who you end up for the long term in spite of how you feel now. But even if not, at least along the way, you'll be able to do what makes you happy and you'll find partners who feel the same way (and you aren't leading them into thinking you can give them something you can't that they may want)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:52 PM on June 30, 2011

This commitment phobia automatically colors me as a bad person because the right thing to do in this society is to find that one special person and commit to them for the rest of your life.

In matters like this it's really not up to other people to decide what's should make you feel good or feel bad. I personally would think that you are totally normal for having the feelings you do about these relationships. Lyn Never is right, every relationship fails until one doesn't, and until then you should keep trying.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 4:53 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can formulate it as the anxiety is about commitment issues, or you can formulate it as the anxiety is about being in conflict with someone who wants you to commit and with (how you see) society. The latter anxiety is not a mental health issue and may be all you are experiencing.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:00 PM on June 30, 2011

You don't seem to have a serious or unusual issue when it comes to dating, but you have decided that your behaviour "colors you as a bad person" and an "immoral" person. Thats where the problem lies.
posted by fire&wings at 5:06 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Listen to your gut.

You're not a commitment-phobe just because you aren't yet ready for a serious relationship. Your family of origin and your experiences as a child probably left you with a lot of issues to work through regarding trust, commitment, emotional intimacy, and the meaning/appearance of a healthy long-term relationship. It may take you a few years to construct an idea of the kind of long-term relationship you'd like to have (if at all).

Enjoy the freedom you have right now. Use this as a time of intense self-discovery. Take some to get to know yourself, spend time with friends, talk with a therapist, and perhaps go on fun, light-hearted dates. Try not to get weighed down by externally or self-imposed notions about how much energy you should be devoting towards romantic relationships.

Re: breaking people's hearts. Don't think of these guys as your victims. You're asserting your needs as you have every right to do. You're not on anyone's schedule, and you don't owe anyone a relationship just because you enjoy each others company.
posted by swingbraid at 5:08 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

You're in your early 20s and you've had some long-term relationships that didn't work out. Meh. You're normal. (Whatever the hell that is.) I seriously only met one person in my young adult life who actually had Getting Married as a life goal and went about 'husband-shopping'. (She is completely insane and we are no longer on speaking terms because she is COMPLETELY INSANE.) Most people don't give a shit until they meet someone awesome. I don't know where you're getting the "colors me as immoral" stuff. As a member of society, I would just like to say "Get married, don't get married, whatever. No biggie." (Also: do you live in some kind of area that is extremely religious or something? Where I'm from nobody gives a shit. )
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:14 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

You absolutely don't have to commit at all. What you do have to do is be open with you partners about how you're feeling. That's it. You're not a bad person. You're someone who wisely separates from someone when it's clear your goals aren't the same.
posted by inturnaround at 5:17 PM on June 30, 2011

So reading between the lines, it sounds like you're getting a lot of flack from your ex and your circle of friends for dumping him. Keep in mind that that's not some sort of pure and objective ethical judgment. It's just drama, of the sort that people like to stir up when they get their feelings hurt. If you said to a stranger, "I broke up with a guy because the spark had gone out of the relationship — am I a bad person?" — I'd give you pretty good odds they'd say, "No, you're fine. That's what you do when the spark goes out of a relationship. Sticking around and leading the guy on would have been cruel." The fact that your ex is mad at you, and maybe his friends are too, that doesn't mean you're a bad person. Just means you pissed them off.

That said, two things sort of jumped out at me from the rest of the post. And I guess if you really are convinced you've got a Commitment Problem and not just ex-boyfriend drama, here's where I'd start in thinking about how to deal with it.

I've never cheated on anyone. Rather, I left the relationship as soon as the desire began to occur.

This seems like a bit of an overreaction. I think everyone in a long-term relationship has the desire to cheat sooner or later. Wanting to cheat on the guy doesn't mean you don't "really" like him, doesn't mean the relationship is doomed, doesn't mean you're inevitably going to cheat on him — and so doesn't mean you shouldn't stay together. It's just something that happens now and then when you've been together long enough for the infatuation to have worn off.

'Course, it's also totally fine if you decide you do want to leave someone. Just saying, it isn't morally required of you the first time you find yourself fantasizing about someone else.

As a child I witnessed much spousal abuse between my parents, and was even abused myself in many ways. My parents had a violent, nasty divorce. There were frequent calls to the police and even a night where I had to clean up a pool of my mother's blood.

So when I was in my teens and early 20s, I was a frequent dump-er too. And looking back, a lot of those relationships, I left just because I hated myself any time I got in an argument. I felt this deep revulsion any time I had to put my foot down with someone I loved — like I was being unforgivably cruel and abusive. So when some little glitch came up that needed to be worked out, some disagreement or difference of opinion or misunderstanding, I'd ignore it as long as I could and then one day I'd just up and walk away. It seemed like the only ethical option, given that bringing it up and having the argument felt completely nasty and unacceptable to me.

It was only once I learned the difference between arguing and fighting that my track record started to even out. Since then I've been the dump-er once and the dump-ee once, and both times it was over legitimate irreconcilable differences rather than mere fear of conflict.

Anyway, the history of abuse and all the "oh God I'm an awful person for disappointing my ex" makes me wonder if something similar is going on with you. (My family wasn't abusive — just ridiculously nice and non-fighty, such that even small fights felt like catastrophes — but I think abuse can lead to the same sort of fear of conflict. "I'm not going to be abusive like them" turns into "I'm not going to do anything ever to oppose anyone.") Could be you'll be more able to stick with a relationship through the hard patches if you can adjust your feelings about conflict a bit.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:23 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think that not wanting a commitment is normal, but I think that serious depression and anxiety at the mention of a commitment might be stemming from your past.

I think part of you still thinks that marriage = violent abuse. That is something that you might want to get help with.

There is nothing wrong with choosing not to commit.

However, I think that you deserve to have a true choice in the matter, instead of being unable to consider commitment at all.

(I also come from a home with serious spousal abuse between my parents, and I am still working on this! But it has gotten a lot better.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:27 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

> I think part of you still thinks that marriage = violent abuse.

Yeah. Obviously, being disinclined to commitment is cool. It does sound, though, that in this case, there are some lingering emotional triggers you might want to disarm.
posted by darth_tedious at 5:37 PM on June 30, 2011

There's nothing wrong with not wanting to be in a heavy committed relationship at your age, or any age. I don't know what your cultural milieu is but in mine young people generally don't get married in their early twenties. I would have done my best to dissuade my kids from marrying that young if any of them had announced they were. You might just need a new set of friends, people who are enjoying being young.

It might also be helpful to get some counseling so that you can better understand the various ways that your family affected you.
posted by mareli at 5:39 PM on June 30, 2011

Perhaps you're just not ready to make what most people intend to be a lifelong commitment at this point. In your early 20's, this sounds rational to me. Depending on what else is happening in your life at this point, you may still be growing as a person and outgrowing some relationships.

I've been in your position in some relationships, and I've dated girls like you in others. So what if you're not ready to get married yet? The only thing I can say is that had I married anyone at your age, it would have been a mistake.

As you get older, you'll also realize that successful relationships aren't shot in soft focus with candlelight the whole way through. They change over time, and it's natural to find yourself attracted to others. The fact that you respect your partners is as it should be, and you have nothing to feel guilty about.

You also need to understand that the exes may have trouble relating to you, even though you did nothing wrong. Breakups between people who like each other but want different things can still hurt. He's entitled to do what he needs to so he can move on. That in no way means you've done anything wrong.
posted by Hylas at 5:46 PM on June 30, 2011

You don't have to want a long-term commitment with anyone you're with. It doesn't make you a bad person.

But this:

I ended up breaking with the guy, and now he won't even talk/be friends with me.

gives me pause.

If you've never been dumped, maybe you somehow don't get this, but this is totally normal. You don't get to decide if the person you break up with wants to continue some other kind of relationship with you. This reaction doesn't even mean that he thinks you're a bad person or have done something wrong; it just means that you dumped him and he's trying to move on in the way that seems best to him.

And if he does in fact hate you, that still doesn't make you a bad person. It just means people develop feelings, you broke his heart, that's painful for him, whatever... you don't get to control that.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:58 PM on June 30, 2011 [11 favorites]

There's absolutely nothing wrong with not choosing to commit to someone, now or ever-- assuming you're not deceiving your partners, and that you're not encumbered with life circumstances (like kids) that'd extend the consequences of this behavior to people besides yourself.

On the other hand, it sounds, based on your description, as though your impulse to escape from long-term commitment has some of the features of a compulsion or hangup-- overwhelming feelings, anxiety, etc.-- and certainly your background could plausibly cause you to have some visceral discomfort with commitment and intimacy. It might be worth working through these things with a therapist, then, not because it's so crucial for you to get hitched right now, and not because you're somehow a bad person for having ended your past relationships, but because you owe it to yourself to make sure that your decisions are yours alone, not just some helpless working-out of whatever issues your parents' bad behavior created.

That is to say, it's not a problem at all if you won't commit to a long-term relationship; but you might want to look into the reasons why you feel you can't.
posted by Bardolph at 5:58 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

As a child I witnessed much spousal abuse between my parents, and was even abused myself in many ways. My parents had a violent, nasty divorce. There were frequent calls to the police and even a night where I had to clean up a pool of my mother's blood.

I am not a therapist. I don't even play a therapist on TV:

Sounds to me like you will "hurt" him before he even has a chance to "hurt" you. Perhaps dumping him while he likes you is even better. It is your way at getting back at your father for everything he has done to your mother. You are breaking their heart while you remain uncaring because in the end (in your mind) he was going to hurt you anyways.

Yet, because of this culture's norms, I'm an immoral person because I can't commit.

You are not immoral. I believe there are deeper issues that you should address with a therapist if you truly desire to one day get married and have a family. A family was not on my mind in my 20s, but facing these demons now may help you be ready for when you are ready later in life.

Best of luck to you.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 6:28 PM on June 30, 2011

For what it's worth, all my friends who had married before 25 are now divorced.

Don't quit trying. You said you feel like you should just be alone. If you are upfront about what kind of relationship you want, the guy can take it or leave it. He knows what to expect from the beginning. At a certain point you have to trust your date that he respects you and your wished, and if he stays with you, it means that he's OK with you and wants the same thing.

I would say that I suffer from some of the same anxieties as you. Or maybe preferences, it's hard to tell. I know this pressure you speak of. What helped me what to basically get friends who understood me, or could at least tell me that I'm OK. If you live boldly and honestly, the right people will respect you and love you for it. When people misunderstand you and judge you it takes courage just to carry on. Believe me, there are guys who are looking for the same kind of relationship as you.
posted by beau jackson at 6:35 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here is one thing that stands out for me: 3.5 years is a "long-term relationship", in at least some respects. So, perhaps you don't have a problem with 'long-term' so much as 'forever' or 'indefinite'?
posted by hepta at 6:38 PM on June 30, 2011

You've had a 3.5 year relationship, which is a LTR, in your early 20s, which is not the sign of a commitment-phobe.

Your strong personal ethics are probably preventing you from establishing committed-LTRs with people who you know you don't feel as strongly about. This is a good thing - you're not stringing people along making them think that you're more invested than you actually are.
posted by mleigh at 7:01 PM on June 30, 2011

You are understandably hesitant about getting into a permanent relationship, but you seem to be willing in meeting new people, exploring feelings, getting closer. If you feel that you're hurting others, cause you're not letting yourself to get closer to another emotionally, then take some time off to figure things out for yourself before getting into a relationship, for your sake and for the other person's sake.
posted by icollectpurses at 9:29 PM on June 30, 2011

Look. You get to write this one. This rockin' little life you have. You even get to rewrite. Your 20s certainly read differently in your 30s, trust me. And in another decade, they'll be recast again.

"My problem is that I can't commit long term to romantic relationships. This commitment phobia automatically colors me as a bad person because the right thing to do in this society is to find that one special person and commit to them for the rest of your life. (ideally)"

This doesn't sound like you. Granted, I don't know you. But given everything else you wrote below the fold, this comes off like you summarising a bunch of signifiers, labels and feelings into bullshit ideas you've heard but you don't really want to believe about yourself. So don't. Let me break it down...

"My problem is..."
This isn't your problem.

"I can't commit long term to romantic relationships."
You already did.

"This commitment phobia..."
Do you really want to call it that? Does it help to do so?

"...automatically colors me as a bad person..."
What? By whose standards? Not yours, and you're number one, so the rest can piss off!

"because the right thing to do in this society is to find that one special person and commit to them for the rest of your life."

Some people may believe this, but many don't. You don't really want to align yourself with the ones that do anyway, do you? And you don't really want to live to please society either, do you? Or necessarily blindly do what's 'right'? Also, 'that one special person...' is bullshit.

is overrated.

Everything below the fold seems the real issue and I think you can unpack and explore that more. You are a good person. Your goodness is not defined by your relationship past or behaviour. Labels are often unnecessary and sometimes detrimental. As can be trying to encapsulate a range of feelings and emotions into a summarised 'problem' to be solved. Sometimes things just are and the dots don't always need to connect. Even if they do, they don't always need to be labeled. Even if they are, the label isn't necessarily fitting or true. Even if it is, you don't have to accept it. You can change it. You get to write this one.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:34 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

Awesome comment by iamkimian. Lots have addressed the commitment issue you raise, so I won't add to that. Except to say that I think you've come to think of it as your main issue, when in fact you've turned it into a red herring to direct your energy. I think what you really have to deal with is how your parents' violent relationship and abuse affected you. Having to clean up a pool of your mother's blood? Holy Christ (pardon me!). I can't even begin to imagine how traumatic that must have been. And that's not even all of it. I am so sorry you had to go through that. Violence affects you in ways that you don't even know about, and I hope you can find a good therapist to safely work through it. Similarly, healing from abuse opens up new ways of living, loving, relationships. I believe that if you deal with larger issue, how you think/feel about commitment will transform as well.
posted by foxjacket at 10:01 PM on June 30, 2011

I'm sorry if I got a little angsty in my response to you. It really makes me sad when I see somebody who is clearly compassionate and caring (and a good person) begin to doubt their worth after swallowing some of society's poisonous ideals.

I think you're doing just fine. Keep being introspective, work on all the stuff below the fold...try to look at each situation separately and not as a part of some giant character flaw. You're much more complex than some short-circuiting overarching label of What's Wrong With You.

As for the breaking hearts bit...maybe take things slower (yes, I'm advocating being more of a "Commitment Phobe"). The next one...don't jump in, but rather let yourself slooooowly fall. And don't be bothered to even attempt this unless someone comes along that just turns your head right the heck around (and you do the same for them). It may take a while to find someone who can do that for you, but there are lots out there who can.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:03 PM on June 30, 2011

I feel that I'm a good person. I'm upfront about my commitment issues. I've never cheated on anyone. Rather, I left the relationship as soon as the desire began to occur. Most of my friends and family think I'm a person with strong personal ethics. Yet, because of this culture's norms, I'm an immoral person because I can't commit.

You are not immoral. You are doing the right things. I would change nothing unless you truly feel you want something different.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:36 PM on June 30, 2011

Are you asking the right question? Try this one: "What do I want?".

Of course there are people of all paths out there. I live in Sweden, 90% here are laid-back one-day-at-a-time types. As someone who is closer to the opposite end of the spectrum (no, I'm not special or anything), I just feel worried by one thing: that those encounters last longer than what could be considered casual relationships. If the relationship is not "for the rest of my life", at what point of time does it become a stringing-along behavior? Would there be so much ex-boyfriend drama if you had dumped him within the first year?

Why not to date without explicit exclusivity, if you feel so inclined? Do you fear of not being loved if you do not play a full-blown relationship? Do you warn them off about the issue verbally, but then act committed in action? Isn't it a burden by itself? If it is, then be free of it! If it is not, how does it affect the other person in the couple (think specific person, not "society")? And back to the first question: what is it that you want?
posted by Jurate at 11:37 PM on June 30, 2011

You're doing it right. It's much better to wait until you really feel it for someone before you settle down instead of jumping into a LTR that doesn't feel right just because society is telling you it's time. Take it from me, a seasoned expert in commitment phobia - I'm in my late 30s and never have had a relationship that's lasted over 3 years!
posted by hazyjane at 12:48 AM on July 1, 2011

I am a lot like you. I am both the relationship type (as in I have the choices of dating multiple people) but after a while a deep desire to bond with others comes through. I know this is a bit uncommon because these very same urges tend to be stronger than what most other people seem to experience and even though I don't act on them (or maybe because I don't act on them), it becomes very hard not to. Like yourself I also get guilt trips from feeling this way. Since I am a bit (but not much older) than you, this is what I have learned:

1) It is perfectly possible to be absolutely head over heels in love with someone...and still be attracted to others.

2) Monogamy while probably the best way to fit in with society is not the only way to live. You may choose to just date around for a couple of months (or years) or you can even choose to be poly-amorous or you can even choose to be a may find not only that those are better suited for you but that you can also REVERT back to being fully monogamous if that is what you want. Also from experience I can tell you there are a whole lot more people than you may think experimenting with these lifestyles.

3) Finally and most importantly labels do not matter, the world we live in is constantly changing. My culture (hispanic/european mostly) really values early marriage. However that doesn't jive with the reality of today where just to get a decent salary one needs a master degrees and a higher commitment to a career that one needed before in order to be financially stable. Had I married at 24 like my mother did and had babies at 26 I would be dead broke.
posted by The1andonly at 6:14 AM on July 1, 2011

You did commit to a long term relationship. You were apparently monogamous for 3.5 years. You do not state that passion fading or finding someone else desirable were the key factors driving your break up. You also fail to make the case that you are totally unbothered by this breakup, in that you are still trying to maintain some kind of friendship and seem distressed that he won't talk to you. So these facts will not influence my analysis. Instead, my analysis is of the issue "am I broken because I grew up in a broken home with unhealthy patterns and is that brokenness responsible for my inability to marry the 3.5 year boyfriend"

It is possible that marriage for you dredges up all kinds of warped ideas about relationships that you have otherwise managed to deal with (you don't write that you're replicating your parents abuse either by perpetrating it or attracting it - good for you). If the anxiety and depression were intense, maybe you need to explore this more. If you like the idea of longish term relationships but get unexplainably repulsed by the thought of marriage, maybe you need to explore this more. In fact, if you haven't already talked through what you saw as a grown up maybe it will be helpful to do so regardless just for the check up, especially given that you're worried about being a bad person and your capacities to do things like be in love.

However, it is also possible that you were happy with the status quo and when he wanted more you realized you liked the status quo and were not ready to be a husband or wife yet. This is totally legitimate in your mid twenties, especially if your conception of marriage was something like "eh, maybe in my mid thirties" and you are harbouring ideas about your career or travel or whatever. There is absolutely nothing wrong with finding a great guy at the wrong time and knowing it's the wrong time, it happens to people all over, all the time. It's also possible that you were in a comfortable groove of intimacy and friendship on the regular and his ideas about a future woke you up to having spent a long time in something that was comfortable but that you had also sort of outgrown.
posted by skermunkil at 6:24 AM on July 1, 2011

whoa nelly. you are kinda getting a little excited here.

1. LTR does not mean forever. It means a couple years. Long Term. not permanent. almost four years totally counts. So you didn't get married to the guy you started dating when you were what, 20? 19? this is a good thing, darling. People who start dating in their teens or early haven't had a chance to get to know themselves as adults. That can spell disaster.

2. Don't try to talk to the boy that you just dumped after he started talking about marriage. You just rejected him when he was very vulnerable. You are doing what's right for you- that doesn't mean he has to like it. It doesn't make you a bad person or whatever- but imagine what it must be like to him- "Hey Jim, I know you were hoping to have this romantic forever story where we live on a puffy cloud and hold hands till we're like 100, but I'm not digging that. But let's be friends- I don't want to lose the part of the relationship that IS working for me."

3. Deal with your feelings about your parent's shit. You will see their mess reflected in everything you do- if it's there OR NOT- until you deal with it.

4. Are you in an area where people commonly get married at 22? Look at bigger cities. Everyone I know was single up to a couple years ago. We are going to a lot of weddings this year. Most of those people are in their thirties. "normal" isn't the same everywhere. Remember that you are totally fine for not getting hitched at twenty-freakin' three or whatevertheheck.
posted by Blisterlips at 6:37 AM on July 1, 2011

+++ ALSO- You would be totally fine not getting married ever. Pretty much all of Europe lives in sin forever and is just darn fine.
posted by Blisterlips at 6:39 AM on July 1, 2011

I wonder if maybe you are just feeling bruised up and judged as a result of your recent break-up. For the most part "society" does not consider you to be "immoral", in fact does not consider you at all, does not care how you date or what your attitude towards commitment is. Inasmuch as anyone does, so what? Living the life one chooses in spite of cultural norms is just part of the deal of living a decent and courageous life as opposed to being some sort of boring, sniveling conformist.

I think I can probably count on one hand people I have known who had been in a 3 year or longer relationship by their early twenties. One or two years are pretty much the norm in that age range. So I'd agree with others saying that this self-characterization is a little premature.

Wanting to get married in the early twenties is not necessarily such a wise goal anyway: it is the age range where divorce rate statistics peak.

Are there people out there who want long-ish term monogamy with an implicit or explicit no-hard-feelings escape clause? Sure. Are there people who want casual once-a-week dating with commitment of any length absolutely off the table? Sure. You can go out and look explicitly for just that.

I have to say thought it doesn't matter how sure you feel someone is on the same page as you or what page that might be, short of eschewing romance altogether the possibility of bad interpersonal drama can't really be eliminated from the equation. There is indeed still plenty of time for you to be the one to get your heart broken which is, believe me, nothing to aspire to. It's kind of like abstinence WRT pregnancy and STDs, though: for most of us turning our backs on relationships altogether is a too-extreme solution to the problem: we need the eggs, you know? Speaking as a person who has been on the business end of the broken heart situation more than once, it's not the end of the world, and I wouldn't trade away any of my relationships, even the ones that seem pretty objectively stupid and pointless.
posted by nanojath at 10:42 AM on July 1, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great advice guys. You're right, I am worrying too much about something that many young - 20 somethings go through. Its good to see other people on the same page who've gone through the same thing/ideas.
posted by BettyBurnheart at 11:29 AM on July 19, 2011

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