Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Column: ‘I fear spiders and commitment’

February 13, 2020
<p>Student photographed at Charlie Kang’s on Feb. 12, 2020.</p>

Student photographed at Charlie Kang’s on Feb. 12, 2020.


Throughout my life, I’ve seen some pretty intense relationships. I saw my own parents and my friends’ parents fight. I saw people who claimed to be in happy relationships yell at one another, and I thought that all relationships were like that. 

I got scared. 

I thought all relationships had to be tinged with a little bit of pain and suffering. I thought it was the norm, and I thought all relationships were destined to fail because they would all reach a breaking point and come to an end. That thought terrified me. 

It still does, but now, I have seen relationships grow stronger from hardship and I have seen amazing couples thrive the longer they’re together. My fear isn’t that all relationships are terrible and end, but that some are that way, and I want to avoid experiencing that. 

Let’s get one thing straight, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a “real” relationship. Sure, I had a boyfriend in high school, but he was older than me, so while he was at college 10 hours away, I was just sending him updates via text and calling it a relationship. 

I dated another boy for a little while before my senior year of high school, but when things got a bit too intense for me around a month in and I decided I couldn’t handle it anymore, he sent me, “i love u karly” over Snapchat. 

This was the first time I really sat down and thought, “I’m never doing that again.” 

Love is such a huge word, and to have it sent to me — sans capitalization, sans spelled out words, sans good timing — was terrifying. I decided I wasn’t capable of love, and anytime anyone showed any interest in me, I struggled to even consider a relationship because I didn’t want to waste my time.

The times I sent my dear friends “I want a boyfriend” texts became few and far between, usually only coming up during late nights when I couldn’t fall asleep. Recently, I’ve been feeling needy so my friends have gotten them pretty often, but I am a little bit convinced that if someone I show interest in reciprocates the feeling, I’ll cower and return to my state of fear.

It’s not that I don’t want to find love or happiness with someone, it’s just that I’m not sure my phobia will allow me to. 

Within the span of two months, I watched two of my closest friends go through intense, life-changing processes. One got married to her boyfriend of four years, and one broke up with hers after a year and a half. 

The two situations are intensely different. One found happiness, love and family with her significant other. One lost a relationship that she gave her all to for 18 months. 

The fear that the latter instilled in me overpowered the positive emotions I felt when I watched my friend get married. 

If someone could break up with someone as amazing as my friend, how could I ever be in a relationship and find someone who would love me unconditionally? How could I trust that I wasn’t wasting my time with someone? How could I know that if I welcomed a relationship into my life, I wouldn’t regret it? How could I know that I wouldn’t end up crying on a futon, or another piece of uncomfortable but inexpensive furniture? 

Even when I like someone, I get a little bit scared. When I want to tell my friends stories about them, I refuse to say their name because then it “becomes too real.” I’d rather call them vague nicknames so people are never really sure about who I’m talking about — which ultimately just makes them figures in my mind, rather than real people. One time, I even forgot one of their names because I refused to refer to him as such for so long. Sorry, Josh. 

My fear of commitment is really weird. I want attention and validation because of my self-esteem issues, but when a guy shows genuine interest in me, and just me, the pressure hits.

What if I do something that ends up hurting them? What if I fall out of love? Or what if they fall out of love with me? 

My mindset around commitment has become a big part of my life, so much so that my Twitter bio used to begin with, “i fear spiders and commitment.” That said, I have since swapped out commitment for “low-rise jeans,” because while I don’t think I fear them enough to write a column about them, low-rise jeans are terrifying. 

It’s not the worst, because I don’t have to buy a gift for anyone this Valentine’s Day, and I don’t have to plan dinners or get dolled up for dates. 

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So where does that leave me? Alone on Valentine’s day, but where else? Scared I’ll never find love or joy. Scared I’ll never live in a two-income household, meaning I’ll have to pay rent alone on a journalist’s salary my whole life. Scared I’ll have to cook for myself every single night. 

But mostly scared I’ll never get any tax breaks.


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