Commitment - why am I not ready and when will I be?

I don’t even know where to start.

I’ve never really beleived in marriage and kids and all that family stuff, for reasons a little long for the purpose of this.
But its been many years, and many good AND bad, add tragic, relationships. So I think I’ve been around the block a few times already and perhaps even up to the penthouse, even if it ended in a jump-off.

Now I’m 33, just out of a 6 year, and into about a year with my SO. She hints the big C.
But it seems to me that when this subject pops up I start avoiding it, I have no reason to beleive I’m with the wrong person, in short, but thats about all I’m comfortable with saying.

Damn, this will take too long…

WHY is commitment such a problem for me? And who else is going through this?

I’m going to get burned at the stake for this…

Once a guy decides he’s not going to have kids, there’s no reason for commitment. Having kids in today’s global economy is a massive decrease in one’s economic standard of living. I’m 36 and have watched my friends go one of two ways. 1) Get married. Have kids. Get divorced. Lose 1/2 and pay child support. (Have you noticed most of these marriages last 7 or so years – evolutionary biologists have theorized that’s because 7 years is the time necessary for a child to become weaned and fairly self-sufficient in a hunter-gatherer society which then allows both parents to find other matches - maximizes successful gene spread - an interesting theory for behavior so common that it has a cultural term, “7-year-itch”). These idiots then get married again and perpetuate the cycle of emotional misery, child misery and financial poverty. 2) Affluent Man Child. AMC. Professional, single income devoted to a single individual rather than spread across raising a family.

Combine the above with the fact that women (generally) want to have kids like men want to have sex with lots of women. Is the commitment her way of saying she wants to spend the rest of your lives together or does she simply want to breed like you want to have sex with lots of women? Both are unnaturally strong impulses that can lead to lots of emotional/child/financial misery if not honestly assessed and controlled.

So what to do? Well, being an ABC I’ve decided that if I’m staying in America, I’m going the Affluent Man Child route. The American cultural ideal of a nuclear family makes successful families all but impossible. Why should I spend the best years of my life raising brats that the mainstream culture turns into conceited, consumerist nightmares of resentment? The nuclear family, with one man and one woman trying to do everything is too isolated (emotionally and financially) to succeed except in the most perfect of conditions. Both individuals must remain objective and forwards thinking at all times for the family to succeed. That just doesn’t happen under the duress of modern stress.

If I stay in Taiwan, I’d seriously consider marriage and breeding. The traditional Chinese family structure, while it gives up the privacy of the nuclear family, is stronger in keeping relationships together. I think it’s mainly because the extended decision making process of the larger family keeps selfish desires of the husband and wife in check. If one person in the couple starts thinking in a too self-interested manner, the in-laws and cousins have a say in maintaining balance. The larger family has an investment in seeing that the kids are brought up in a stable environment since everyone is sharing the same emotional space. The classic example is when the Chinese father-in-law/mother-in-law bitch-slaps the respective husband/wife and says “shape up, it’s about the family, not just about you!”

Yah, the western ideal of romantic love at first sight and the pair bond of a nuclear family is awfully romantic, but I don’t think it has enough emotional and cultural support to last very long (and the statistics about divorce and single-parent households bears me out). The kids suffer, the parents suffer and then they repeat the whole process again with another set of partners.

I have a whole subset of male friends who look at my lifestyle longingly. They’ve got multiple kids with multiple mothers. Alimony, child support. Ex-wives that hate them, children that hate them and they are looking forward to a lifetime of work just to financially support the mess they’ve created. Neither rewarding nor fun.

Just my opinion…

[quote=“hippo”]I’m going to get burned at the stake for this…

Once a guy decides he’s not going to have kids, there’s no reason for commitment.[/quote]

That is utterly ridiculous and simply the way you feel, not the way the general populace feels.

Marriage does not exist for the sole purpose of raising children. My husband and I are a testament to that. Neither one of us has ever wanted them or will ever have them…in fact, we wouldn’t have gotten married if one of us did…and we have a solid, happy relationship and commitment to one another that I can’t ever imagine ending because my husband wanted to go out and screw a bunch of other women. I’m sorry, but that is simply ridiculous! :laughing:

[quote=“Indiana”][quote=“hippo”]I’m going to get burned at the stake for this…

Once a guy decides he’s not going to have kids, there’s no reason for commitment.[/quote]

That is utterly ridiculous and simply the way you feel, not the way the general populace feels.
[/quote]

I think the current state of families and marriage is quite in flux in modern, industrialized western nations. While there may be a “way the general populace feels” left over from earlier social and economic periods, the actuality of what that “general populace” is practicing is much different.

Divorce in the the USA hovers around 1/2 of all 1st marriages. By the 3rd(!) marriage, nearly 3/4 end in divorce. The majority of American children will now spend some time of their childhood in single-parent households. Certain western European countries greatly exceed the American rates of divorce.

Men and women are increasingly avoiding commitment to the nuclear family. On the negative side, it’s one parent abandoning their family. On the positive side, there is an increasing (but small) number of financially successful women in the USA and Europe starting families independently of men and marriage.

What the original poster might want to consider is what this “commitment” consists of. Is his partner asking for just marriage? Or is his partner asking for children? The general populace generally associates marriage with children – hence the problems with childless couples being branded “child haters” even in western societies. In certain eastern cultures, the lack of children in a marriage is an incredible societal stigma and grounds for divorce.

If the OP’s girlfriend is angling for kids and the OP is not ready for children, I think the rudest possible route is to “lead” his partner on and waffle about commitment. Even worse would be to be the “nice guy” and go along with marriage and children and end up unhappy, divorced and emotionally scarring everyone within one or two generations. I’m at an age where I’m watching many of my male friends go through this. It’s not worth it.

My advice and what I practice is to tell my partner that I’m not ready for a commitment/marriage/children (my preference is for long-term linear monogamy subject to a mutually beneficial partnership and egalitarian distribution of duties and responsibilities - romantic, ain’t it?). I don’t want to waste her time, since she has a biological hard-limit to when she can breed and I don’t. It’s not fair to “string along” someone who’s relationship goal is different than yours. Telling the truth and communicating had best come easily and early in a relationship. If you can’t talk now about what each of you wants, what kind of disaster looms ahead when things get more serious?

The world is changing rapidly. Relationships are too. People in industrialized western nations are getting married later (if at all), having fewer children and having more divorces. I would say that you should figure out what you honestly want. And then find someone who has the same goals and intentions. To be deceptive in a relationship only ends up making everyone involved sad, hurt and distrustful.


edit for grammatical mistake

[quote]
If I stay in Taiwan, I’d seriously consider marriage and breeding. The traditional Chinese family structure, while it gives up the privacy of the nuclear family, is stronger in keeping relationships together. I think it’s mainly because the extended decision making process of the larger family keeps selfish desires of the husband and wife in check. If one person in the couple starts thinking in a too self-interested manner, the in-laws and cousins have a say in maintaining balance. The larger family has an investment in seeing that the kids are brought up in a stable environment since everyone is sharing the same emotional space. The classic example is when the Chinese father-in-law/mother-in-law bitch-slaps the respective husband/wife and says “shape up, it’s about the family, not just about you!” [/quote]

Like the Capulet and Montague families?

According to the Taipei Times (209.85.173.104/search?q=cache:z5 … 2003219477)

The divorce rate in Taiwan was nearly 48% in 2004.

If you read the table here: divorcemag.com/statistics/statsWorld.shtml (which doesn’t have Taiwan in its stats for whatever reason),

That puts Taiwan towards the very top of the list when it comes to divorce failure rates.

[quote=“hippo”]
My advice and what I practice is to tell my partner that I’m not ready for a commitment/marriage/children [/quote]

Good on ya, Pubba. This is so important. Too many couples get into a quandry of not really knowing what the other wants / expects until it is too late. I can’t tell you how many married and engaged men I know who are fretting because they don’t want kids, but their wife / fiancee does, and they are sort of going with the flow anyhow. That’s not to mention the people I have met who have felt pressured into getting married because it was the next ‘natural step’ in their relationship, according to their SO. These situations are destined to become problematic, if you ask me. t’s best to state upfront how you feel. I remember a serious boyfriend I had while in college (we had been together for 5 years), and as soon as he mentioned getting married and having kids, I bolted. I wasn’t ready for marriage and I certainly didn’t want kids.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’re not ready for it you simply aren’t ready. And who knows, some may never want to tie the knot or have kids or be in a committed relationship, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. These are personal preferences that are not tied in to what our parents and grandparents thought they were ‘supposed’ to do in their time (marry young, immediately reproduce 2.5 kids, buy a house, etc. etc. etc.). For example, my sister will never marry or have kids, she even hates to commit to someone for longer than a few weeks…and she loves her life. She loves her independence and will never settle down with one person or have children that are dependent on her. It would cramp her style. :slight_smile:

What I still don’t agree with, though, is that people get solely married for the sake of reproduction. I got married because I met a person who I wanted to wake up to every morning and to share my life with completely. He wants to live abroad for the rest of his life like I do, and he always cracks me up. We have an absolute blast of a time together, and that hasn’t waned in the 10.5 years we have been together (9.5 of it married). For me, I enjoy having a partner in life who I can share life’s ups and downs with and to be able to have a laugh with at the end of the day, someone who wants to experience the most out of life just like I do. I would be awfully lonely on my own with the lifestyle I have chosen to live abroad. And in terms of kids, we both feel that having children would mark the end of our lifestyle and change the dynamic of our relationship. It’s not ‘us.’ But we still love being married. :rainbow:

Great post, Indiana!

Personally, I would put it very simply. The first thing is, be honest with yourself. Acknowledge what you do or don’t want, and what you are or aren’t ready for. Second, and equally importantly, be honest with your partner. Communicate this. Finally, try to be flexible, open, and accommodating, to the extent possible within the boundaries of what you really are able to accept. A healthy relationship has to be built upon those three steps, IMO.

[quote=“Indiana”][quote=“hippo”]I’m going to get burned at the stake for this…

Once a guy decides he’s not going to have kids, there’s no reason for commitment.[/quote]

That is utterly ridiculous and simply the way you feel, not the way the general populace feels.

Marriage does not exist for the sole purpose of raising children. My husband and I are a testament to that. Neither one of us has ever wanted them or will ever have them…in fact, we wouldn’t have gotten married if one of us did…and we have a solid, happy relationship and commitment to one another that I can’t ever imagine ending because my husband wanted to go out and screw a bunch of other women. I’m sorry, but that is simply ridiculous! :laughing:[/quote]

Great post. My wife and I aren’t sure if we want to have kids or not. But whether or not we do has nothing to do with our committment to each other. At least the OP knew his idiotic post would get burned.

33’s not so old either. Don’t sweat it. I had trouble with committment at 20, 30, 40, too. Part of the deal for me was that I felt there was no way I was going to go through a divorce, like everyone else, so I was going to make damn sure my woman was perfect: sexy, smart, honest, funny, athletic, literate, good cook, good in bed, good career, etc. I figured there are billions of people on earth, I don’t want to be hitched up permanently and then discover a far better catch that I should have waited for. My present partner might be an 85, I figured, but surely I could find a 90 or 95 or even a 98 before committing. So I had lots of relationships and a lot of fun, but none was good enough to marry, they each had their flaws, I kept thinking I could do better, should do better, before I decided to enter into a permanent committment to spend the rest of my life with just this one person.

Additionally, I felt I had to figure out what I wanted to do with my own life before tying down to a partner, which would make it harder for me to continue exploring all the geographic and career options I might be interested in.

I finally married at 43 and I’ve come to realize the above theory is flawed. Sure, it may theoretically be true that by searching the globe and being very critical and discriminating one can try to sift through the many thousands of potential partners one encounters and try to select one who is most suitable for you personally, but no one is perfect, everyone has flaws, god knows I have my own fair share so even if I found someone who is “perfect” she surely wouldn’t be interested in me and, in any event, as one continues with the search, potential mate after mate, the years pass by, and one has discarded one potentially very promising relationship after another, always searching for something better but failing to see what’s right there in front of your face.

People were always puzzled, especially in Taiwan, that I wasn’t married yet at that age. Of course, a first thought they might have is – maybe he’s gay. But when they learned that wasn’t the case, they’d be stumped. Why would someone not marry by his/her late 30s? Well, it is a perfectly valid choice. I enjoyed reading Indiana’s account of her sister. As for me, I enjoyed a lot of traveling and soul searching (and craziness) that probably wouldn’t have been possible had I been tied down. But I finally grew up, got tired, realized that committment might not be so bad after all, and it’s not once you’re ready for it.

Same for kids. There’s no way I was ready to give up my freedom years ago to raise a rug rat, but since my daughter was born four years ago everything has changed completely and I feel nothing in life could bring more pleasure than raising a child. Every day it’s a fantastic thrill to see her, talk with her, pick her up and hold her, and marvel at how quickly she grows. If you don’t believe that now, that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that, but chances are one day you too will feel completely differently about it. Or maybe not. Some people go all through life without ever wanting kids and that’s a valid choice too.

If you’re ready for marriage or kids then go for it. If you’re not, then by all means wait till later. Whatever you do, don’t feel pressured by others. They have their lives, you have yours.

As it related to my outlook, one danger of the perfect partner theory, I suppose, is that people change over time significantly - in some ways getting worse, in others better, as will you. So what may be the perfect partner today, 20 years from now might require a bit of work, and your 10 years of waiting didn’t go too far.

On the contrary, the tight-knit taiwanese family structure I suspect, for me at least, is one of the reasons why I’m more deterred than ever before. I’m used to the more mid-class western influence, the notching up on in-law obligations leaves me feeling a little inadequate sometimes.

[quote=“JohnnyT”]I don’t even know where to start.

I’ve never really beleived in marriage and kids and all that family stuff, for reasons a little long for the purpose of this.
But its been many years, and many good AND bad, add tragic, relationships. So I think I’ve been around the block a few times already and perhaps even up to the penthouse, even if it ended in a jump-off.

Now I’m 33, just out of a 6 year, and into about a year with my SO. She hints the big C.
But it seems to me that when this subject pops up I start avoiding it, I have no reason to beleive I’m with the wrong person, in short, but thats about all I’m comfortable with saying.

Damn, this will take too long…

WHY is commitment such a problem for me? And who else is going through this?[/quote]

Hahaha , i just had a loooong lecture/conversation with the elders in my family about this tonight. Look, I may not be in one, haven’t had one in a long time (all this is a disclaimer) but I do know what is true (oh so Oprah) is that if you know what you want, then stick to it. Don’t bend your values for anyone or anything, because that’s the price you have to pay. Why do you have to think commitment is a problem because you haven’t settled? Key word—settled! Most people do and regret it. If you know that you want a relationship or marriage, eventually you will have one. Don’t set you timing on this world’s or others or judge yourself by what’s going on around you.

I’m 35, smart, good looking and can’t get a crack-head to take intrest in me, right now. :laughing: But I know that 's because I’m not suppose to have what everyone else is suppose to have at this time. When it’s time, it’ll happen until then, enjoy yourself (damn sure am enjoying myself!!!)

Besides most women (sorry for the generalization) think that at a certain point in a relationship the man is suppose to “pop” the question, and there lies the problem. They are doing it accordingly to world standards and not what’s right for them.

Single until it’s right
Namahottie

On the contrary, the tight-knit Taiwanese family structure I suspect, for me at least, is one of the reasons why I’m more deterred than ever before. I’m used to the more mid-class western influence, the notching up on in-law obligations leaves me feeling a little inadequate sometimes.[/quote]

Yeah, what you’re saying resonates with me.

For Hippo the ‘tightly knit’ family is a good thing - it’s beneficial for the in-laws to interfere and bust the wife’s/husband’s chops in order to drive home the point that it’s about the family. This is supposed to bring more stability, in his view. In my view, and in my situation, that kind of interferement from my in-laws would only make me resent them and doom my marriage. Privacy and freedom to do our own things, without open judgement, is what I need to make marriage work with my wife.

I guarantee that if my marriage doesn’t work it will be because of her family getting in the way, not in spite of it.

haha… shame on you, but so right you are…

So E, did you marry a family, or did the family attach itself onto your marriage over time?

And people wonder why so many people are cynical about marriage and long-term relationships.

“I’m not really in love deeply with this woman or anything, but we’ve sort of stuck around together for several years out of habit, and I guess it’s about time for us to start thinking about getting hitched because we’re socially obliged to.”

Is this how real life works? It seems that way, observing many of the married couples I know. It seems pretty destructive to fill up kids’ heads with notions of stuff like romance if it all turns out to be a business contract in the end.

haha… shame on you, but so right you are…

So E, did you marry a family, or did the family attach itself onto your marriage over time?[/quote]

I married her and the family HAS tried to attach itself onto the marriage but I’m fighthing that at every turn.

To be honest, her family is pretty nice and they don’t interfere much. Her sister is a bit too motherly though (she must be flabbergasted that I managed to survive for years here without her/the family’s ‘help’) and I mostly just keep trying to drive home the point to my wife (and subtlely to them) that I don’t want our social life to resolve around family outings/gatherings.

i grew up in the waltons. huge family. mom and dad never argued
i am the odd duck that never got married. the family is wonderful. family togetherness is still central to everything. who needs friends when you have family? seeing my nephews and nieces so close is a wonderful thing. you don’t have to do every family function. how much is 3 hrs on a sunday gonna hurt.

to the OP. if you ain’t gonna marry her, let her go. it is not fair to her if she seeks marriage and you don’t.

Dunno…lots of good posts.

I’m just one of those people that believes that there is no waiting until you are ‘ready’. When is that? Is there a light that comes on like an oven reaches the temp you set? How can you truly ‘know’?

In my mind if you’re not at least bit frightened by the commitment of kids, marriage, or long-term relationships, then I believe that either a) you’ve never really introspected or b) don’t understand the full meaning of commitment or c) you really are that self-actualized enough and well adjusted to know exactly what you are doing. To those who feel they fall into category c I say, “do you feel lucky, punk?’

I don’t believe in the perfect partner theory either. Perfect for what? Today, 10 years from now? Personalities are not static, so how could your relationship be? Underlying trust that you’ll, ‘work it out, somehow’, seems to me the glue. Some days are good, some days are bad, some days you’re really in love, some days you want to kill each other. So it goes…it’s knowing that this too shall pass…the underlying trust must be there. It takes regular maintenance and patience.

Kids. Marriage changes little; kids on the other hand change everything. To paraphrase, “The day they are born is the scariest day of your life. But, then they grow up into people you like to be around”. They scared the piss out of me when they were born, but slowly I’m finding out I’m not so bad at being a parent and they are nice kids. Dunno…maybe they will blame me for their scarred lives when they grow up.

But, I would say that one should not avoid marriage or kids just because one is scared of it…and life doesn’t end because they show up. It just changes. Life isn’t so interesting without change or challenge.

Now as much as I would prefer not to admit it, I guess I do have hopes that the perfect partner theory exists, hence the thread.

Sometimes I wonder is I’m just one of those people that are in it for the chase, the PP theory being just an excuse to continue doing so.
Which suddenly brings me to pose another question.

Can ones inability to commit be the precipitation of the inadequate conclusions of the above?
Should I be bringing PP to a close before being able move off this block?