Most of the posts, books etc are written from a standpoint of someone who has been hurt by a commitment phobe. There are probably several reasons for that, not the least the fact that sometimes we like to hide our own commitment phobia behind someone else’s much more obvious non-commitmental behavior. No, I am not saying that everyone that dates a commitment phobe, is a commitment phobe themselves, I am just suggesting a possibility that it could very well be the case.
In my case, there have been several boyfriends that I tried to hide from the world. Lets take my first boyfriend, who I kept a secret for quite some time. I was ashamed. I thought that others could never respect me after seeing me that weak. Weak in this case meant having feelings. I was trained in a fashion that every sign of feelings of affection was something that could be used against you. People knew where to push. If you however never confessed to any of your feelings, you were still strong. You were strong in the eyes of your partner and in the eyes of those around you. You were safe, god knows for how long. After all, I only got punished for having feelings, especially those if tender nature.
My first thought when my first boyfriend expressed interest in me was- what is wrong with this guy? Seriously, there had to be something wrong with him. Noone can be seriously interested in me. When he still would continue treating me quite nicely, I lost all the respect for him. See, in my mind, I did not deserve to be treated nicely. I was faulty. The nicer he treated me, the weaker he was in my eyes. Also, he was expressing his feelings, making himself vulnerable- how demeaning, how weak! I lost all the respect.
Fortunately after some years of dating I met another ex, who treated me “better”. He was critical and judgemental, in my mind exactly someone I needed. I needed him to tell me what I should change in myself. When he told me that he does not think I am beautiful, my response was- “What can I change?”. In my mind this ex was way above all the other exes I have had, having a relationship was a huge achievement for me. I really did not deserve him, but luckily on some level he also seemed to think I did not. This was a perfect combination… He was the ex I could respect, he was not weak.
See the thing is, at least the way I functioned in the past and to a degree still do function now, I cannot take a guy who is nice to me, who does not criticize and who loves me. I perceive him as inferior. In my mind being honest about your feelings and vulnerable is so deeply related to abuse, that my automatic program starts to work, telling me- this guy must be abused, he must be put down, because he deserves it. The same way as I was put down by my mother, especially when I confessed to some weakness of mine. I often wonder if this is the case with others that had an abusive childhood- that you either abuse or are abused. There is no other way. You are either an underdog or alpha. Controlling or being controlled.
Feelings of love make me uncomfortable, because they are interwoven with abuse. I know no love outside abuse. I know no context where feelings are tolerated and where I can be weak.