I live with my boyfriend whom I love very much. The problem is that I think he is afraid to give his full commitment to the relationship. We have talked about how he has been hurt by other women. I keep explaining that I am not like them. How do I get him to realize that women are not all the same? We have known each other for many years, but we lost touch until earlier this year. I want to spend my life with him. How can I get him to realize that?
The chafing point is that you moved in with him before having his full commitment. Take responsibility for conning yourself into thinking he would be different if you co-habitated. You’re right to believe that commitment is important, but don’t use it to validate or invalidate yourself. The moment you realized he has difficulty committing, you should have scanned his life. Does he give his full commitment to family? Friends? Employer? Religious affiliation? Community service? Don’t compare what you have with him against what he has with others because, in your emotional state, you’re bound to see a deficit. Simply notice whether he fulfills what you define as full commitment.
What is that definition, anyway? Increased intimacy? A mental or monetary investment in future plans? Rings? A complicated definition means this problem has more to do with healing your history than feeding your current relationship. Of course, if your beau really shows up in his other relationships, don’t fret. It’s much harder for most people to give themselves fully to a romantic relationship because of the intense vulnerability and transparency required. In that case, read this week’s meditation.
One more thing. Are you willing to be wrong? The more you insist that you’re different, the needier you become. The needier you are, the more distant he will be. I suggest you own the ways you are similar to the women he fears. Commitment requires trust. We can’t trust until we confront the lies we tell ourselves (or others) and begin to live truthfully. That’s something a therapist can help you both learn to do.
How can I get the tape by Lorna K., the former alcoholic you recently quoted? My alcoholic father can be great, but his good-guy self hides behind alcohol and behind anger from the past. He won’t admit he has a problem, and I don’t know that a tape could help, but it is worth trying. I don’t know how many people in his shoes have heard something that actually helped them realize they needed help, but I would love for this to happen before my father ends up killing himself. The tape seems like a non-threatening way to make a difference without pointing a finger.
The tape Lorna K. from New York, NY is available from Encore Audio Archives, at www.12steptapes.com. Lorna has a posh British accent and a witty way of telling her harrowing tale of addiction and grace. Remember, though, that addicts only change after hitting bottom. Only then are they quiet enough to hear the voice within that incites a change. In the meantime, notice whether your own good self hides behind anger (or some other emotion) or whether being the child of an alcoholic has given you any other traits worth shedding. Please consider going to an Al-Anon meeting to support yourself in removing your own obstacles to freedom.