Originally featured on Sipping Sunshine as My Fear of Commitment February 12, 2020
I have a fear of commitment. Not in a “dipping it and doing it” sense, but in a “the idea of being in a relationship freaks me out” way. The last time I dated someone I was a freshman in high school. It is something I honestly don’t like to talk about because it is a hard pill to swallow. I would have to admit to myself that a lot of my feelings were real and not manufactured in my mind. Even typing this out has given me anxiety, but for the sake of this piece I have to be transparent. To be honest, I’ve blocked a lot of it out or used it as material for my fiction writing, so sometimes I have a hard time remembering what really happened. Despite how “short”, the stuff I do remember was impactful enough for me to not be in a rush to date again. For the purpose of clarity, it didn’t last and was never going to work because of me.
“What’s tea, girl? Tell us more about these commitment issues.”
I don’t do well with the emotional part of getting to know someone, being in a relationship, or a situationship. See, I am an internal emoter and liking someone makes me feel like a mad woman. I am either on ten or two with no in-between. A “title” feels like ownership, closeness feels invasive and suffocating, and I’m disappointed easily which is my red herring to retreat.
My commitment issues stem from the relationships I’ve seen growing up. Disrespect, arguing, physical fights, putting a man’s being over children whether he was their father or not. I didn’t like what I saw. In a sense, I’ve made it my life’s mission to not repeat any of it. But like most things, when we try our hardest to not be or do like someone else, we either emulate or fall into another trap. While I’m not physically abusive or put relationships over others, admittedly, I’ve learned to argue down and be disrespectful before I’m disrespected. The greater issue is I’m attracted to the brokenness and despair in people, drawn to manufactured potential. Trauma bonding is my chicken noodle soup for the soul. I can pretty much guarantee anyone I’ve ever been attracted to has a depressing story to tell.
In the last two or so years I have sought out a greater understanding of why I am this way. Last summer I watched the Grapevine’s Let’s Talk About Love episode. From the video, I learned I may be somewhere between dismissive avoidant attachment and fearful avoidant attachment (or anxious avoidant attachment). This is some heavy stuff, so let’s unpack some of this.
“What is this whole attachment thing?”
According to Dictonary.com, attachment theory is “a set of concepts that explain the emergence of an emotional bond between an infant and primary caregiver and the way in which this bond affects the child’s behavioral and emotional development into adulthood.”
Attachment theory is broken down into four types. In adults, these four types are: secure, dismissive avoidant, anxious preoccupied (or anxious resistant), and fearful avoidant. I found a video that best details what attachment theory and its four types are.
Someone with dismissive avoidant attachment tends to: feel independent, avoid intimacy (attachment and vulnerability), hide their feelings, have commitment issues, and distance themselves when rejected. You are probably sitting there stuck because you recognized you have some or all of these traits. You are not alone; I can check off all of these traits too –– but as a reminder don’t self-diagnose yourself.
Diving into these attachment types has allowed me to put a name to what it is I recognize in myself and how I feel. It explains why it’s difficult for me to value and make meaningful connections with people, why it is easier for me to dispose of relationships. It explains why the “brokenness” I feel I can see in others. I will go as far as to say it shows why I’m all too eager to repair someone’s life’s damage while abandoning my own. How can a broken person fix anyone let alone another broken person? Through my understanding of myself, I now see that broken people are reflections of ourselves.
“Girl, this explains why I…”
I was hoping what I wrote would resonate.
As you can tell, I am clearly not your average 20-something-year-old Black woman (commitment issues or not). However, I know how I feel is more normal than people are willing to admit. People just don’t have the language for what they feel and it’s okay. We are all trying to figure life out and make changes where we can. To be frank, I’m not healed and everything isn’t exactly okay. Now that I have the language or at least a starting point for why I am the way I am, it gives me the opportunity to figure out how to do something about it. And I hope by reading this you have gained a bit of clarity about yourself too.
What’s your attachment style? Has the fear of commitment affected your connection with others?