Commitment Issues

As we’ve previously discussed, I’ve started attending Speakeasy Wilmington, a monthly story telling competition. Last week I told my first story on the topic of commitment issues. It’s actually a story I love to tell, but I completely botched it. I knew I would probably chicken out when I got to the bar so I hadn’t prepared properly and going up to the mic was all I needed to forget what I wanted to say. Which was:

I spent the first three or four months of my relationship pretending it wasn’t a relationship. A good friend came to visit while this non-relationship was blossoming and he thought I really wasn’t that in to my man. Now that I look back on that time, that is definitely the vibe I was trying to put out- the “I am not invested in this” vibe. The Alaska boy was going back to Alaska in April and no one had ever wanted to pursue something with me before so I was planning on keeping that tradition.

“Let’s keep things casual.”

“He’s not my boyfriend, he’s more like my fella. Or my beau.”

– Commitment Issues

When he left for Alaska I spent the next few months saying we were broken up. Technically we were, but emotionally we were not (if you are alive, you are familiar with this situation).  I went on a couple dates. I kissed a boy and cried all the way home. Finally my mother came to visit and I couldn’t stop talking about him. I don’t know if it was she or I who thought that I should visit him, but I finally brought up the idea to him. The idea was greeted with much enthusiasm and in August I began on my first annual trip to Alaska.

Even as I was flying in, I was thinking about how this didn’t mean anything.

He’s probably dating someone in Alaska.

“He probably won’t want to kiss me when I got off the airplane.” – Commitment Issues

I was very lucky that I was the only one in this relationship with commitment issues. My other half thought I was crazy. Fair…

Even when he was getting ready to leave for his second season in Alaska I thought,

“Realistically we’ll never last another season. That would be ridiculous.” -Commitment Issues

When I worked up the nerve to tell him I loved him, he had just gotten back from a season in Alaska. I was so nervous I thought I was going to explode. I got quiet and serious.

“I have something I have to tell you.

CRAZY LONG PAUSE WHILE FREAKING OUT

I think I’m in love you.”

“Oh! God, you were so serious I thought you were going to say you were seeing someone else!”

-COMMITMENT ISSUES

Now that we’ve been together over four years, these are the moments we laugh about. I’m pretty grateful to have someone in my life who was (is) willing to point out all my crazy but also, deal with the crazy along with me.

There. That’s all I was trying to say.

Learn It From Me

I’m new to this whole relationship thing. I have trouble understanding how to balance the things I used to do by myself with all the time I now spend with someone else. Like how do I clean my room if he wants to hang out? Apparently the answer was give him a book to read. Another question: when do I find time to do errands? Answer: He doesn’t mind going along. He doesn’t have a car. This is an opportunity for him. This relationship has taught me some other basic things about myself:

1. I’m an excellent choice of person to bring to a haunted house. I’m not a screamer but I teeter constantly on the edge of freaking out. My boyfriend spent our entire haunted house adventure, laughing his ass off behind me. Without thinking about it, every time a “monster” jumped out at me I shouted “Hello!” or “How are you?”. It made the situation seem not real. So if you want a big laugh at a haunted house or you don’t want to be the biggest scaredy cat of the group, pick me!

2. I would rather quit than try harder. This is a terrible thing to learn about yourself. In reality it’s something I have always known but periodically have to be reminded of. My boyfriend convinced me to play tennis this weekend and as it turns out, it takes practice (duh!).  I missed the ball repeatedly of course and found myself running all over the course like an idiot. About half way through, he eagerly asked me “Are you having fun?” No, cause I’m a ridiculous stick in the mud. I was able to eventually pull myself together and have fun for a few minutes but I am definitely not the person you want to teach a sport to. I am no fun.

3. I cannot stand watching football. I have very little patience for it. If you’re going to make me watch football, please get me a book to read or some sort of puzzle to entertain myself with. Or better yet, if you know you’re going to watch football and I ask if you want to hang out, say No! I will be disappointed when I come over and I’m required to watch anything more than 5-10 minutes of a game. I don’t make anyone watch Pan Am or romantic comedies with me. It’s cruel. I am not a good sport at this.

As you can tell, this has been a big time for growth.

A World Without Romance

It’s hard for most people to imagine a lifetime without romantic love. But it happens.  It’s more common than you might think. It’s not reserved for the hugely obese, the hideously ugly, the mentally ill or even just the overwhelmingly socially awkward. We Americans or perhaps the Western World would like to think if we play by the rules, participate in society and don’t make too much trouble then we’ll get what we ask for. We’ll get what is considered certain basic desires (after all we deserve them): financial security, a warm house, friendship, family and of course, love. As we grow up it becomes apparent that at least some of us are going to have work for these things. They won’t just come because we asked for it. Then some people must discover that sometimes even working for it is not enough. There’s the father who works hard for his family but never seems to get ahead of his bills, always struggling. There’s the daughter who tries to mediate her family’s problems, remind them of the love that binds them to no avail. And there is the sad soul who puts his or herself out there time and time again, yearning for love and winding up with one night stands or drunk alone at the end of the bar.

These examples all exist and yet they do not represent any category of people. After a lifetime of being single I personally have become accustomed to taking a rather defensive stance on the topic. In a time and place where often being single is considered a contagious disease rather than a just a Face Book status, I stiffen my spine and pretend to look down on people who question my romantic past. I have never considered or let my single status be a weakness. I do not cry into a tall glass of red wine surrounded by cats. If anything I’m more available for girls night out. I can take off on grand and lengthy adventures around the world. I flirt with whoever I choose.

And then last night a guy I’ve been seeing very casually expressed to me that he would like something more, that this arrangement should be brought to the next level. The very idea of calling someone my boyfriend, of emotions getting involved, of promises and compromises, left me panic stricken and questioning everything I’ve believed in. Paralyzed with fear and this idea of romantic involvement I stressed my need for casual involvement. Now I am struck with seems to me two possibilities: Am I messing up future happiness because of a fear of relationships and commitment? But if I really liked him wouldn’t I have jumped at being involved with him? On the other hand I feel myself being pressured into starting something with said fellow simply to prove that I can, to prove that it’s only my fear holding me back, which is incredibly wrong and unfair.

Well, shit. And all in time for Valentine’s Day too.