Relationship Ramblings

Why We Need to Get Rid of the ‘C’ Word (No, Not That ‘C’ Word)

Commitment. It sounds so obligatory, conditional and unromantic.

Although my lover and I say we have the best relationship either one of us have had in our lives, “commitment” is a word we’ve never used and one I’ll never use.

No, I’m not keeping my eye and options open for a better prospect. Why would I? We have an amazing friendship, connection and sex life. We value each other. We have the most amazing times when we’re together and enjoy our phone and text conversations when we’re apart, which is most of the time since we’re separated by 2,500 miles. There’s no commitment; we just simply choose to be with and enjoy each other. Immensely. A lot. Like crazy.

There have been times when I’ve seen the word or idea of “commitment” fuck up relationships.

I look at my parents who just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They often brag about how they’re one of the few couples they know of that have met this milestone. I don’t see why they brag. They bicker constantly. My dad yells and insults. My mother nags. I don’t know how they put up with that shit. Somehow they take pride in sticking (and being miserable) with each other as if they’re trying to earn a merit badge.

About 14 years ago, I was dating a guy, Patrick*. After feeling rather euphoric after a night in bed about three months into our relationship, I blurted out the “L” word. He didn’t say, “I love you, too.” Instead, he just dryly said, “I haven’t determined how I feel about you yet.”

It felt like a kick in the cunt. I’m willing to admit to and saying the “L” word when I feel it evolving. Patrick obviously took the “L” word as some kind of serious, hardcore promise to death-do-us-part. I was simply enjoying the time we were spending with each other and was open to seeing where things would go. But after hearing, “I haven’t determined how I feel about you yet,” I felt as if I was on double secret probation until I was accepted and deemed worthy of his commitment of love. It didn’t take me long to say, “Fuck this shit, I’m outta here.”

I have my dear friend who is a Unity minister, who has mentioned the book, Coming Apart: Why Relationships End and How to Live Through the Ending of Yours by Daphne Kingma, a few times when we’ve talked about relationships. He says the title of the book is misleading but has been extremely helpful in counseling people about relationships, many of who have decided to stay in theirs.

“Her premise is that we enter into relationships to meet some sort of karmic developmental purpose,” he says. “We often don’t know what that purpose is. It could be something short term, like to heal something in our lives, or something larger, like to raise children. Often the task is accomplished in a short time.

“Her premise is that this was fine when our lives where pretty short; when we married at 15 and were eaten by a bear by 30. But now we live much longer, and with the idea that marriage is ’til death do us part,’ we often find that our relationships have served their purpose already, yet we stay in them, grow apart, and sometimes we resent the partner. Rather than let each other go lovingly, we start to hate that person yet cling to this idea of long-term relationships. When they do end, they look at them as failures.

“What she believes is that in reality all relationships are successes, because the developmental tasks get completed. We learn and grow from them. And leaving a relationship that no longer serves us, where the task is completed, it’s not wrong, not a failure, but just the progression and evolution of our lives. It’s a play on that meme, ‘People come into our lives, for a reason, a season or a lifetime.’ So in a sense everyone we have a relationship with, whether long or short term, whether romantic or not, is a soul mate.”

It’s nice to have forever in mind, but the best way to keep that way is to enjoy the person we’re with and not load relationships with the challenges and conditons of commitment.

*Name has been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.