I have a good friend who hasn't had a girlfriend in the ten years that I've known him.
He and I talk a lot about sex and relationships, and half of the time, he cannot keep a straight face, almost like a teenager, embarrassed by our honest, mature conversations. Other times, we have these very insightful conversations about love, life and relationships. We talk about the breakdown of monogamy in modern society and the fallacy of marriage — things I love to discuss.
Recently he admitted that he's afraid of letting his guard down, afraid of rejection, afraid of getting his heart broken into pieces, of liking someone more than she likes him. We always talk about the downsides of relationships, but the bottom line is that while I have been in relationships for the last 20 years, he has been single for at least 12.
He is afraid of relationships for very different reasons than I've ever been. Historically, I've been afraid of losing my independence or yielding to someone who takes the relationship and me for granted too soon. He is afraid of rejection. I guess it's the same difference, though. I guess we have all been reluctant to trust others at some time in our lives.
But then, more was revealed. I surmised that he went for the less attractive girls to boost his self esteem so he wouldn't get rejected. He agreed. He admitted he would give girls his number despite having no intention of ever following up, except perhaps for sex. His fear of commitment is actually a fear of rejection. Deep down he would love to be loved, appreciated and understood, but he fears rejection from the girls he is most attracted to.
So instead, he throws little bits out there to the ones he is really attracted to but then runs away, thereby avoiding rejection. He flirts and gives his phone numbers to girls he has no intention of calling, unless its just for sex. He says he is happy being single, and for the most part he really truly is. Because single is safe. Single is free. Single is fun. And, in his case, single has the upper hand.
He has also said that when he falls for someone, he falls really hard, and he doesn't want to be the one who falls harder than the other. He's afraid of losing himself, afraid of losing control, afraid of losing the upper hand, afraid of rejection and, in return, he gets his needs met by having one-night stands and "f*ck buddies," no-strings-attached and "friends with benefits" scenarios.
I call this a fear of commitment ... and he is not alone. Fear of commitment is just a self-protective mechanism, a tough exterior, a mask made for the manliest of men (and lotsa ladies too) to hide from and — in some case — bury the sensitive, vulnerable side which ultimately must reveal itself in order to fully give and receive love in a way that truly matters.
Fear of commitment also happens within relationships where one or both partners hold back, refuse to give themselves fully, always wearing their protective shields. What an uncomfortable place to be, I think. What a lonely, empty space. Sure, being vulnerable is scary but there is relief in finally letting your guard down. Keep reading ...
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