Fear of Commitment

I saw this really cute guy on the metro tonight. He looked like he was about 25, wearing a light gray suit, black loafers, and sunglasses (at 11:30 p.m.) perched on top of his dirty-blonde gelled ‘do. He was even carrying a Border’s shopping bag. In short, he fit all the qualifications my mother has outlined for me in the man hunt:
1.) hunky (her word, not mine)
2.) well-dressed, which usually means
3.) good job
4.) looked to be of Irish descent (a big crowd pleaser for Mary Ellen)
5.) literate

And as I peered at him over my steno pad, where I was jotting down a few ideas to pass the time on my hour-long metro ride home from Dupont Circle, I noticed him notice me. I blushed for a second, as I pictured our red-headed babies trotting through our front yard toward the white picket fence he built around our two-story Colonial. Then I quickly diverted my gaze back to my notepad, pretending the nanosecond I spent looking into our future was just a momentary pause as I searched for the perfect word.

I’ve had a few of these moments this summer — a few almosts. I’ve even had a couple of the brief, positive flirtations that would normally lead to an exchange of phone numbers, but instead leave me running away quicker than Cinderella at 11:58.

“Why, Maggie? How?” That’s what an assortment of friends have asked me, after I’ve told them about some of the almosts. “What is wrong with you?”

Well, to be honest, I have a fear of commitment. That’s what’s wrong with me. And yea. That might not be a desirable trait in a 21-year-old girl, but after this summer, I’ve got to say it seems pretty normal.

As most people know, girl cliques will gab about just about anything and everything after they’ve spent enough time together. The six-person USA TODAY intern clique I roll with spends five hours a week eating lunch, 10 drinking, 15 sightseeing, and 20 emailing each other. It took us less than a week to start talking about men.

And it turns out that I am not the only not-a-girl-not-yet-a-woman that feels this way. In fact, it seems completely normal to prioritize getting a good job and building a life for myself. Having a boyfriend, after all, at this stage in my life would only complicate things:

What happens after graduation? Will we move in together? Are we only going to look for jobs in markets that can accommodate both of us? What about grad school? Marriage? If we decide to have kids, which one of us is going to put our career on hold while the babies still need full time care?

It’s enough to make any young woman seriously consider buying a cat. I myself am buying a Scottish Terrier after graduation (along with a new Prius and a Blackberry… those are my only three goals for the first months after I receive my diploma… well, and employment, I guess).

But while for some reason it might seem a little socially unacceptable on college campuses to not only be perpetually single, but also have no desire to upgrade your relationship status, it’s completely fine. Many college women are addressing this same issue. And even though I have recently found out (through Facebook) that the valedictorian from my high school class recently ties the knot, and a few of my SU classmates are engaged, there’s no need to freak out.

Not to knock anyone who is involved in a long-term, committed relationship — my very best friend has been with her boyfriend for more than four years, and they are completely perfect for each other in every way — but it seems to be completely normal to focus on taking care of yourself at the age of twenty-one, instead of trying to balance your needs with someone else’s, and putting your individual hopes on the back burner.

So, okay, maybe I could have mustered up the courage to smile at the cute yuppy on the train tonight. It might have led to a five-minute conversation and a laugh or two. And it wouldn’t have killed me to be a bit nicer to the guys that bought my friends and I a round of drinks at McFadden’s. But the point is, that it’s important to know that all those lines men pour out about “it’s not you, it’s me,” or “I have a fear of commitment,” are really equal-opportunity excuses.

Women can be selfish too. And I plan on being selfish for a while. Unless Logan Huntzberger ever calls me back…

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5 Responses

  1. […] sees the seemingly perfect guy on the Metro. He glances at her as well. She writes: I blushed for a second, as I pictured our […]

  2. Not wanting to move in, for instance, can result from a fear of commitment.

    Immediately retreating after the first hint of interest from a man you’re attracted to? That isn’t fear of commitment, that’s something else.

  3. Do people still say “hunky”?

  4. Mom does.

  5. Great post. You sound like you got a good head on your shoulders and I’m sure you’ll have no problem ‘settling down’ when you meet the right person. In the meantime, have fun, learn new things, live life to the fullest. Its perfectly normal to meet a different mr. rights at a distance a few times a month and even more normal to just blush and hide away.

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