Have you ever had a friend who was determined to stay single? You know, the kind of person who wants to date for the rest of his or her natural life without ever settling down into a meaningful, long-term relationship? I’ve had a number of friends like this over the years. Some jokingly referred to themselves as “chronically single” while others were genuinely committed to their philosophy. Unfortunately, not one of them could ever give me a good reason for why they didn’t want to find a partner for life.
Of course, they wouldn’t say why because, for one reason or another, they were afraid of commitment. The mere idea of marriage scares the heck out of some people. There’s this whole stereotype of being chained to a loveless relationship and unable to escape. Granted, there are more than a few marriages that turn out like this, although the image of marital perdition seems particularly pronounced in some. To them, being with one person for the rest of your life isn’t just a possibility for dissatisfaction; it’s a guarantee.
On the other hand, there are people who flit from relationship to relationship, not because they’re against the prospect of marriage, but because they’re searching for their “one true love.” Some may even desperately want to commit to a meaningful relationship, but only when they find their perfect match. Whether it’s a belief in fate or God or sheer romance, they’re convinced that there’s only one person on earth for them.
Both of these mindsets are tragic, in my opinion. For those who think every marriage is doomed to failure, it will be. Even if they face their fear of commitment and tie the knot, they’ll face marital difficulties because they believe such problems to be inevitable. Should they never overcome their fear, they’ll be destined to have brief, shallow relationships for the rest of their lives or to pass up on those that could be deeply meaningful.
As for those searching for “the one,” they fail to realize that they ultimately decide who that person is. For one, nobody’s perfect, so the likelihood of finding a perfect match is zero. More to the point, though, for every person there are many potential partners, not just one. The question shouldn’t be, “Is this the one person with whom I am destined to spend the rest of my life?” It should be, “Could I be happy spending the rest of my life with this person?” If the answer to the latter question is yes, you should quit while you’re ahead.
I just think it’s a shame when people pass up relationships that are, or could be, perfectly meaningful, especially considering the scant few who actually manage to find them. Being afraid or in search of some unrealistic ideal will only make you lonely in the end.
I can hear the naysayers already. “Sure, you say that now, but what about before you got married.” I admit, there were early moments in my relationship with my wife in which I had doubts. I didn’t expect to marry her right from the start and I’ve never considered her perfect (sorry, dear ). Still, I didn’t fight it when we got serious enough to consider marriage, and I didn’t bat an eye when we finalized the deal. I believed then, as I do now, that I could be happy spending my life with her and that I was lucky to have found someone with whom I could feel that way.
I’m sure others will disagree; it’s difficult not to have strong opinions when the subject comes so close to the human condition. No doubt those fearful of commitment are feeling defensive about now. Still, I stand by my belief that it doesn’t pay to turn your back on a good relationship. After all, you just might be running away from something wonderful.