On relationships: My struggles with commitment.

“Relationships are easy” –  Said no one, ever.

Relationships for me, have been one of the hardest aspects of life because as soon as I cross that intimacy boundary, I suddenly struggle to understand what exactly I am ‘supposed’ to do or who exactly I am ‘supposed’ to be. I feel like there is so much pressure on me, and this is one of the reasons why I so easily concede to defeat.

If only relationships were as easy as algebra

You see, growing up I always fell back on my academic brilliance to get me out of trouble, because I could understand things like mathematics, I.T, accounting, science etc. Numbers made sense me to me, logic was logical, algorithms were rational but when it came to life outside of the books – I just didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to say and I had no idea how to act. No one taught me how to love, no one taught me how to be a good partner, how to be a good boyfriend or how to be a good man. There was no rule book for me to cram, no formula sheet for me to wrap my head around, no memo for me to compare my answers to, no calculator for me to rely on and this left me in a constant state of panic, anxiety, and confusion.

Somehow, though, my predominantly left-brained, introverted and anxious self still managed to get into a few intimate relationships with real human beings. And through these encounters, I have come to learn that the process of allowing someone else into your life is extremely daunting, especially because being truly open, honest, transparent and vulnerable was never one of my strong points. But regardless of this, I still did it, I jumped in head-first (sometimes needing to be nudged) and what I know now for a fact is that more often than not, my relationships are kept afloat by the love, understanding, patience and willpower of the woman that I am with.

Sadly, though, on multiple occasions I have either:

1. Not tried hard enough while still in the relationship.

OR

2. Given up way too easily before even getting into a relationship.

It is only months and years later, in hindsight where I realize how good I actually had it and how easily I threw it all away.

The C Word

My mother likes to say that I am ‘afraid of women’. When I first heard her say it, I had no idea what she meant because talking to (as well as just looking at) women was evidently one of my favorite pastimes. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that she is actually onto something (as is the case with everything else mothers say, I really don’t know how they do it). Although to be honest, it is less about me being afraid of women, than it is of me being afraid of the ‘C’ word: commitment (**cue creepy background music**). This is something that I will openly admit to being extremely passively afraid of. My current theory is that I have a deeply entrenched fear of abandonment and this has lead me to live a very detached life, purely as a coping mechanism. I have this constant fear (or rather I just accept it, way in advance, in a strategic attempt to pre-empt the inevitable pain, confusion, and heartache) that people will leave me, get over me, disregard me and just forget about me, so this coupled with my anxiety and confusion around intimacy is just a recipe for complete and utter disaster.

These deeply entrenched fears are for the most part a result of some not so fortunate occurrences in my distant past (#DaddyIssues) and this has lead me to rationalize that I have subconsciously associated love and attachment with pain, anger, frustration and sadness. So naturally, the best way to avoid these negative feelings altogether is just to stay clear of love, emotion, and intimacy as a whole. And while this allows me to build up a solid protective layer around me, my ego and my heart – the downside is that it has quite a negative impact on both my platonic and intimate relationships alike.

Facing the truth

When you are completely oblivious to your own internal flaws you end up pointing fingers at all the wrong things throughout the relationship. And then, after prematurely throwing in the towel, you find yourself giving reasons like:

  1. “I wasn’t ready yet”,
  2. “I was way too busy”
  3. “I just had so much going on at the time”
  4. “We just didn’t have a lot in common”
  5. “I can’t do long distance relationships”

When the truth of the matter is that all along the real problem was actually deep down inside you (barring those relationships, where the other person was actually just a complete psycho and your daddy/mommy/uncle issues were not a factor at all)

So, what now?

Well, being aware of the issue is the first step. Accepting it is the second step. And making a conscious effort to continuously work on your weaknesses is the third. It goes without saying that none of us are perfect, and that’s the point – you won’t be perfect and you are not supposed to be.

So while we can all agree that relationships are hella difficult, let it be known that if anything, they are one of, if not the greatest tool in existence to help you shed light on your own flaws, shortcomings, and imperfections.

And what I have personally come to realize is that throughout this treacherous journey, your partner, whether directly or indirectly is supposed to help and encourage you – to become a better person.


“You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.” –  Sammy Davis, Jr.


Interesting videos to watch

  1. The person you really need to marry – Tracy McMillan
  2. The challenge of being close – The School of Life

Interesting books to read:

  1. The Eden Project – James Hollis

Ben J.E Mmari

#T4aM

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