vendredi 6 août 2010

Fearing commitment? I don't blame you!

Relationship advice from a single psychologist: Take it or leave it!

If you're in your 30s or 40s and have yet to settle down with a life partner (and start a family), you most probably have been asked: 'What is wrong with you?', 'What are you waiting for?' or 'Why are you so fearful of commitment'.

As a single man in my mid-30s, I often have been the recipient of such remarks. While I used to shy away from responding to such comments/questions, only recently can I respond honestly by saying that I have yet to find that special someone to share a life and start a family with. Today, I finally find myself having a much better idea of who I am and of the attributes that I am looking for in a life partner.

That said, the reasons that motivate men and women to delay the age in which they settle down with a life partner are numerous and seem to have shifted over the past decades. Most common reasons 'not to commit' tend to range from preferring to focus on one's studies and career to not having found the 'right' mate or fearing to commit to another.

As a clinical psychologist, I have noticed that more and more singles are actually questioning whether 'married life' is for them. It seems that the alarming and constantly increasing divorce rates (almost one of every two marriages ends in a divorce/separation), not to mention the stress and emotional distress often associated with such life events, definitely play a role in pushing many singles to question the entire 'married life style' as a viable and sustainable option (See Canadian divorce rates stats: Fearing to commit to a life partner because of the high likelihood of a later separation/divorce has unfortunately become a rational fear to have in today's society. In fact, it seems that more and more the question that is more likely to be asked is: 'How could you not fear to commit?'

While many reasons can push a couple to separate/divorce, it is important not to downplay the many positive aspects involved in leading a committed life with another. In fact, many studies have demonstrated that 'married' people tend to lead happier and longer lives than 'single' people. For instance, the positive effects of the mutual social support that is inherent to the 'married lifestyle' are undeniable. Without enumerating the many other positive aspects of being in a committed relationship, it is safe to say that many singles still aspire to the 'married lifestyle' in spite of the increasing rates of divorce. The fact that many surveys suggest that over 65% of those who experienced a separation or divorce end up in another committed relationship seems to lend more support to the 'married lifestyle' as the preferred choice! As such, the positive aspects of a committed relationship seem to outweigh the negative ones (i.e., potential divorce).

Today, singles seem to prefer to 'settle down' later in life and to take the time needed to better know themselves and hopefully select the 'right' life mate and reduce the likelihood of a later separation/divorce. Once a life partner selected, however, it seems that many singles believe that now that they have found the 'right' partner, their relationship should be effortless, stress-free and not complicated. Unfortunately, adopting such a belief leads to unrealistic expectations and often leads to frustrations and dissatisfactions in a relationship and, ultimately, increases the probability of a separation/divorce.

Ask yourself the following question : 'If I was to land myself a great new job, would I expect not to have to put any effort into it or would I expect to have to work extra-hard to succeed?' If, like most people, you would expect to have to work extra-hard to succeed in that new job then you should apply that same principle when you meet the 'right' life partner. As such, if you have decided to commit to another, then you must expect and be ready to invest in your relationship for it to work and become great.

With over 30 clinical psychologists, sexologists and counsellors, Y2 Consulting Psychologists has become a leader in the field of psychotherapy in the Gatineau and Ottawa region. We are interested in furthering our understanding of relationships and knowing what your thoughts are in regards to living in (or fearing) a committed relationships.

Yaniv M. Benzimra, Ph.D.
Consulting Psychologist
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

You liked this article? Here's some more on the same subject:

Facebook and infidelity

What's love got to do with it? How online flirting destroys relationships. [Version française]

1 commentaire :

Anonyme a dit...

You asked me on the CNN forums for my opinion on your blog post:

Your article sounds like a typical explanation for failures in marriage, no offense. I believe the problem has less to do with effort or commitment, and more to do with the man's unwillingness to see the act as self-regulated. The high divorce rate is not a result of a newly found level of cognitive processing; it is the result of social acceptance in regard to divorce. In other words, divorce rates have gradually increased as the result of a decrease in the behaviors social undesirability factor. I'm sure commitment may play a part, but the underlying principle is that monogamy does not satisfy a humans organismic needs, and, therefore, diminishing the desire to commit. For instance, in studies using primates it was shown that male primates would be monogamous only to the extent that the female would repel other females from coming into contact with the male. Biologically, monogamy is only beneficial to a child's development, that of which is simplified in today's society. Moreover, it is clearly evident that over 95% of all species are not monogamous. For those species that are monogamous, it is usually a result of advanced social dynamics, not necessarily intrinsic choice.

In all, I think your article is a good way of appeasing the human wish that marriage is how much you put into it (and therefore a matter of controllability). However, like many other practicing clinical psychologists, you do not explain the science and underlying reasons why commitment to such an act is not self-regulating, and, therefore, uncontrollable.

-Doctor of Clinical Neuropsychology and Social Psychology