There was a period years ago when I was drinking wine with my new roommate on a summer’s day on our rooftop. He had just moved in and we were getting to know each other. We were talking about marriage and commitment and I wasn’t sure how we got on that topic. He was very different than me and liked to discuss these things, life and the importance thereof. It felt a little too personal, a little too intimate, given that we had just recently met and were roommates together. Not to mean I can’t have personal and intimate conversations, just that I’d want to have them with people I have a deeper relationship with. I always felt like discussing these topics should really be with someone I wanted a bond with, and not just be a matter of exploration between strangers. But, I suppose that was my own limited understanding of people different than me. I think it is only now, later in life, that I am beginning to understand these kinds of differences.
Anyway, I was talking to him and wandering where the conversation was going, feeling a little uncomfortable. Plus, the topic was a little too close to the nose. We were both single, and established that we were both looking for someone…and? And what? There was a gap there of what he was feeling and his intentions. Part of me thought he might be hitting on me, part of me felt it was weird, and part of me felt curious.
I think I was the one who asked him what he thought about marriage, and he said something quite profound. He said he thought it’d be like the joining of two rings, forever linked, but each complete on its own. He was talking a lot about inter-dependence and so on. But, all I remember was feeling a strong sense of panic. When he locked the thumb and forefinger on his right hand together between those of his left, I literally felt like it was prison.
Mentally, I knew what he was saying made sense and was fine, but emotionally, a flood of panic came over me. And so quickly did I want to escape, I think I suggested then that he should meet our neighbor, Amanda, and that I would introduce the two of them.
So, I was very confused about my feelings then, towards him. Things became very complicated when I developed an attraction to him, though the feelings were never reciprocated.
I don’t know why I thought of it now, but this morning, I did, and reflecting back on that feeling…It’s weird because I only just realized how strong that feeling of panic was. The feelings from all the drama we had were never as deep as my feelings of panic imagining marriage with him.
At the end, he accused me of harboring deep feelings for him and wanting something romantic, which might have been true, but was not true as well. I’ve stopped crushing on him by then but I couldn’t deny that I was fond of him. I didn’t want what he wanted. Does that make sense? Somehow, I felt a coward.
I’m still not sure today, whether it was because I was deep down, not ready for commitment, or if it was a reaction to him in particular. I think I can mentally commit to many things easily, but perhaps emotionally…not so much? Maybe I have a fear there, that needs addressing. But today, as I replay that moment in my mind, I can still imagine feeling – not awesome about it. I do not wish to be bound, I think. But, isn’t that what commitment is? Why don’t I like that feeling? My heart cringes at the thought. Yet, isn’t that what I want?
My sense is that this is maybe one reason why I am not in a committed relationship. That while I protest that the person I’m dating is not committing enough, perhaps I am just masking my own feelings of protest against commitment. If I am to be honest, I can say that almost every break up I’ve had, there has been this feeling there in one form another. But always manifested, for my poor unfortunate partners, as an accusation of their inability to commit, to give more, and even more.
He never did ask me how I felt about marriage, but if he had, I would’ve answered that to me, I’ve always imagined two amoebas whose ins and outs matched one another, whose curves fit just well enough. That it would be a joining of two together and instead of only being able to move in one direction, together we’d be able to move in many more directions and see and do, more than we previously could.
Is this really that different than his version? It is, I know it is and the difference matters the world to me.