It echoed in my brain. The concept of commitment bothers me, freaks me out, and not because I am choosing to write once a week – I like writing and discipline never hurt anyone, but there is a finality to commitment I suppose, like a door closing on something. It seems so solemn, so serious, so adult.
I am aware that commitments are made, or should be made, out of passion and because we want to invest ourselves in something or someone, which in theory, should make commitments appealing. And yet, the concept doesn’t excite me so much as it fills me with fear – fear of not delivering on my weekly promise, and fear of losing freedom. I understand that many men also fear commitment as a loss of autonomy, so I stand in solidarity with my brothers on this issue.
An AskMen.com writer shares my concern and bitterly explains that “[the] dreaded “C-word” implies compromise, loss of independence, the sacrifice of sexual variety, and the looming specter of financial devastation.” Ouch. However, as a saving grace, I found a second AskMen.com writer offering a very supportive piece on commitment, helping a guy along the path to commit by asking appropriate questions.
David D. Gilmore, anthropologist (not to be confused with the Pink Floyd guitarist), notes that “[personal] autonomy is the goal for each and every man; without it, his defensive posture collapses.” If this is true, the loss of freedom could literally cripple a man, and if not, it certainly has the potential to terrify.
Dr. Brenda Shoshanna wrote a really interesting piece about men’s fear of commitment being about their “need to be in control to feel their power.”
“Once commitment is in the picture,” she says, “these men feel as though they are trapped and imprisoned. They often say that once a woman has him, he’ll be putty in her hands. In the end he feels he will lose his sense of masculinity. For [men] it’s all a power game. The one who’s strong is the one who needs less. The power is in not needing.”
“Power” is a word that I always associate with testosterone. Testosterone drives a man to seek out power and sex, to compete and perchance dominate, and it is testosterone that causes men to explore and conquest.
In Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, sociologist Michael Kimmel explains that “[the] pursuit of conquests is more about guys proving something to other guys than it is about the women involved.
“As a result, most guys drift toward adulthood ill-prepared for emotional intimacy and better suited to fantasies of being “wedding crashers” (hooking up with women attending a friend’s wedding) than becoming grooms themselves. They know little more about themselves and their sexuality at 28 than they did at 18, and the more subtle aspects of romance and partnership likewise remain a mystery… While the hookup culture might seem like some sort of orgiastic revelry, in truth these guys are missing out.”
This is a deep and complicated issue and varies from man to man, but I’m thinking that ultimately, commitment is about a guy’s perception of it – does commitment symbolize the potential loss of control, power, identity, and freedom? Or is it about what a guy has to gain from it – if the commitment is to another human: love, support, empathy, a warm smile, a warm body, and home cooking if he’s good, and a sense of pride through accomplishment and perseverance, and an increased sense of worth if this promise is to something else. Commitment is in the mind of the beholder, after all, and it is our choice to decide what way commitment sits with us.
As for me and my commitment dilemma, I think I’ll need a little time to get used to the whole idea, but I’m confident I’ll be able to slide into a cozy, monogamous relationship with my blog. Wish me luck.