Thought Catalog
April 8, 2011

How To Avoid Emotional Entanglements

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What is the issue?

So we’re at that point. The point where all the subtle probes into my intentions and hints that you’re “not hanging out with anyone else”  have proven all too subtle and my answers far too vague. So after a few shots of whiskey, lying in your bed in the dark, you’ll bravely admit you want more. You’ll say you’re still not hanging out with anyone else but this time you’ll add that you don’t want to be either.

And I will ache to agree. I will be filled with the rational desire to tie a bow on the pretty little thing we’ve made these past few months, to make some sweeping promises in that dark room and claim you’re the only one I want but I won’t, because I would be lying. And I don’t like to lie, it’s bad for my karma.

So I’ll tell you I’m not ready. Partially because I’m not sure of what I want, but mostly because I do know what I don’t want. I do not want the responsibility that being committed to you entails. I don’t want to devote hours of my day wondering about yours, worrying about how even my smallest actions might affect you. I want to be unreasonable on a whim, and I don’t want to ask for permission. And I certainly do not want responsibility for the maintenance of your emotional health, because I can barely manage my own.

And yes, I want to be single because I want to date other people. I’m not a sex fiend or anything. In fact, I really like having sex with you, so I won’t be creeping at bars on the few nights we don’t spend together looking to undress someone new. However, having the option to do so is something I’m not yet willing to give up.

And you’ll try to be understanding, but we’ll both know you’re disappointed. You’ll tell me you’re going on a date with another girl and hope to see some semblance of distress on my face, a markedly restrained response made through clenched teeth or at least a furrowed brow. But my unaffected demeanor borders remarkable, the ease with which I can reveal it sometimes even takes me by surprise. I will be reasonable and understanding and even manage to say “have a good time” without any hint of irony or sarcasm.

I will even extend the same courtesy, and let you know that I am also dating. I will divulge as many details as your masochistic curiosities can handle, because I don’t want to intentionally deceive you. Like I said before, I am fiercely overprotective of my karma. I want to be selfish, not duplicitous. I hope you can appreciate that about me.

At first you’ll convince yourself to be satisfied with me, privately labeling my glaring commitment issues with attractive adjectives like “cute” or “coy.” You’ll talk to your friends about how you found this girl that totally lets you do your own thing. “She doesn’t get on me about anything”, you’ll proudly proclaim as they lament over the women they are dating, pesky creatures who constantly chatter about “getting serious.”  But you don’t have to deal with that shit.

But you are secretly envious that they have the choice to deal with that shit. They have the option of “yes” waiting readily at their disposal but you don’t have the luxury of choice. You don’t mention that part to them.

And secretly, even though I try to imagine myself as impenetrably callous, I’ll start to falter under the weight of the choices I’m unable to offer and the promises I cannot make. We will go through the same motions, keep sharing our favorite appetizer at that small spot in my neighborhood and I’ll keep burying my head on the same spot on your shoulder when we sleep, but something will have burrowed a silent rift between us that will widen its ugly mouth with each passing day.

You will go from dismissive to slowly terrified of all that you have already invested in me. How do you take back all those hours? You’ve unknowingly put all this hope in my hands, and you’re no longer sure of what those hands are capable of.

I will be terrified of what to do with your fragile hopes and expectations of me. I’ll become unusually introspective and spend every waking hour ruminating over who I have become. The selfishness I wanted to embrace has, well, fully embraced me. It is monopolizing my mind like a starved virus and has quickly become insatiable. It is ravenous for my tenderness, my well hidden vulnerabilities and even my fear, because fear implies feeling and my selfishness feels very threatened by that.

That is when you will leave, and you’ll take back whatever you can from my clumsy and unwilling hands. I will be left with only wide open, empty palms, but I will not be alone. I will have the selfishness I endlessly defended and fought for to keep me company. TC mark

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