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How to Stay Free while in a Relationship

Ask Emily

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Freedom

Freedom

© Phillip and Karen Smith/Getty Images
Updated June 20, 2012
Dear Emily,

The girl I have been dating for three months is pressuring me to commit to her. I like her a lot (I may even love her), but I do not want to lose my freedom. I don't want to date other women, but I don't want to feel like I am tied down at the same time. I really don’t want to lose her. I can never seem to commit to anyone, though. How can I keep her and still have my freedom?
Free in Flagstaff

Dear Free,

Well, the good news is that you can have her and your freedom because they are not associated, but in your mind. You have gotten relationships confused with jail time. Your fear is based on an illusion (as many fears are) because no one has the ability to take away your freedom. If you have no interest in seeing anyone else besides her, then you are only afraid of the idea of commitment and what you perceive that to mean. If you view committed relationships as emotionally draining and enmeshing, you will of course feel absolutely terrified.

Being that you cannot seem to commit to anyone also tells me that you could be experiencing a similarity from your childhood. More likely than not, someone's self-esteem was tied in how much you loved them (usually a same-sex parent) and that can be a very scary feeling as young child. We learned to feel responsible for that person's happiness. And as a result, we may become commitment phobic as adults because we believe that we are responsible for the feelings of others.

We do not want to get too close to any one person in fear that they will rely on our love in order to survive, which can generate a lot of pressure on anyone. However, we are not responsible for the feelings of others. I mean, isn't it enough that we must take responsibility for our own feelings?

There are no wrong decisions. There are only perfect results of your choices. However, I would recommend doing something uncomfortable and out of the ordinary to gain long-term happiness instead of the easy instant gratification that leaves as quickly as it comes.

As long as you see relationships as freedom-killers, you will never know what you may be missing. If you never give commitment a chance, you will never really know of its benefits. You cannot be half in a committed relationship and half single. Either way, simply decide. That would mean you must commit to a decision. I guess you have to start somewhere!

Emily Wilcox is a lesbian advice columnist and author of 100 Lesbians Walk Into a Bar.... Follow her at @100lesbians on Twitter

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