Thought Catalog

How To Avoid Emotional Entanglements

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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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    • dubbidub

      love it

    • abr1125

      this is my life right now.

    • dcmjs

      brilliant

    • zz

      loved it

    • http://profiles.google.com/rosebudmeza Rose Meza

      This sounds like Summer from 500 days of Summer.

    • http://twitter.com/smokestacksfrvr Josh Liburdi

      me after reading this: “goddammit.”

    • Colin

      You nailed it!

    • http://twitter.com/infoglut Droo

      This was pretty much my last break up. Except you were him. and he's still fuckin with my head…

    • Gretel2

      story of the last 7 months. sigh.

    • Drea

      wow

    • Scytle

      I have been down this road a couple of time, and have found that the way to avoid the sad ending is to not shy away from entanglements, but instead run towards them, while at the same time cranking up the honesty.

      Fall in love, tell them you want to be able to date other people, share everything, talk through the jealousy, hide nothing, lay yourself bare, open your heart, and let it be vulnerable. It's a risk, but it's worth it.

      Very well written story, made me feel.

    • Stevie~

      LOVED THIS! Well Said!

    • thatwasdumb

      get over yourself. enjoy being alone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

      “I will be left with only wide open, empty palms, but I will not be alone.”

      Chills down my spine.

    • DanMoody

      This is why I usually just stick to the polar extremes of unambiguous dating and one-night stands. At least they end. These ambiguous things can go on forever. I used to be into those, but then I realized that I'd rather ACTUALLY be alone than be with somebody while always talking about how we want to live as if we're alone.

      I feel like it's actually pretty easy to just fool around with someone for a few months, and if one of you gets bored and doesn't want to keep doing it, or become more committed, or whatever, then you just stop doing it.

      I don't know about anyone else, but when I look back on my memories of these ambiguous flings where I wanted to “keep my options open,” or whatever phrase I used to describe it, I realize that it was those times that I was the most uncomfortable being alone. The more comfortable I feel being alone, the easier it is for me to say, “OK, I'll be in a relationship,” or “Eh, let's not fuck anymore.”

      • DanMoody

        Correction/addition:

        I feel like it's actually pretty easy to just fool around with someone for a few months, and if one of you gets bored and doesn't want to keep doing it, then you just stop doing it, and if you both get more into it, then you keep doing it, and perhaps you spend more time with each other than you already have, and perhaps you discuss not wanting to see anyone else.

        The thing that many people don't seem to get about relationships is that, whether you're married, just fucking, or whatever you label it as, you ALWAYS have a choice, in every moment, as to whether or not you want to fuck somebody else. No label, no amount of pressure, and no amount of freedom will change that. You can cheat on a spouse and they won't care, and you can “cheat” on a fuck buddy and they will care. We'll never be able to get a contract that says “You are hereby excused from effecting another person's feelings.” We always have big effects on other people's feelings, and we've always got to make big decisions with that in mind.

        And, in any case, the less we shy away from making decisions, the less we tend to hurt people to begin with.

        • S N Cosme

          Exactly Dan. There is so much truth in what you're saying.

        • DanMoody

          Thank you, guests. I appreciate your comments!

        • S N Cosme

          We can sink ourselves in ambiguities in attempts to remove ourselves from that responsibility, but it still lingers, regardless. Maybe that lingering sense of responsibility is what makes us essentially human.

    • http://twitter.com/ComicJohnPowers John Powers

      Strange seeing it from the female perspective.
      I've often wondered what girlfriends have meant
      when they said that they weren't ready to get serious
      or tie themselves into an exclusive relationship just yet.

      You're right, men like having the option of “yes” at our disposal.
      … but often we dispose of it without ever giving it a fair chance.

      There is a movement of young educated people towards
      fulfilling one's own desires and finding one's own happiness
      before considering getting attached to someone else's…
      It's important to be sure you're ready to settle down
      before you do so (that's why it's called settling),
      but it's also important to share in the warmth
      of the trust and comforts of another human.

      All too often we focus on the immediate
      rewards and lack the patience to see
      long-term potentials of opportune
      cost materialize. That's the main
      reason that people in our age-
      range are continuing to put
      off long-term commitment
      for the instantaneous benefits
      of a quickie or a non-substantial
      relationship. Why suffer through
      the hard times when it's completely
      unnecessary at this point in our lives?

      Have we learned nothing from the mistakes
      of our elders in the premature consummation
      of a lack-luster relationship? Forget about your
      second marriage… choose your first one just a bit
      more carefully, and be sure that it's what will make
      you the happiest for as far as you can project into the
      future of your life. If nobody you've found can fulfill your
      requirements… then wait it out. Time will differentiate the
      meaningless from the substantial and you'll be glad you waited.

      It is more wise to wait for what we think we want than to settle
      for something we know we like but may not love… it is better
      to be alone than to be locked into something that doesn't
      make you feel completely satisfied in important ways.

      Thanks for writing.
      You have a way with words, Ms. Cosmé.

    • http://twitter.com/LulabelleNiche Gabrielle Bodek

      This was amazing, I can totally relate. Beautiful writing thank you

    • guest

      ugh. people get over yourselves. just because you don't want to commit doesn't mean you're anything. no one fucking cares if you don't commit or you commit. stop coming up for a philosophy for selfishness and self-absorption. you people are insufferable. keep it to your livejournal.

      • Guest

        SO TRUE

    • AJR

      Beautiful writing. Interesting to see it from another perspective.

    • Rong

      This, so much.

    • Chloe

      I can really relate to this. This situation has presented itself to me multiple times, and each time I find myself just as confused as the last. I always find myself questioning why exactly men crave commitment from me. I feel as if the question of commitment presents itself when things are seemingly perfect, and I fear that commitment only adds obligation and stress to such a beautiful relationship. Thank you so much for writing, I feel better knowing I am not alone.

    • Guest

      I wish I was more like this.

    • Guest

      Ugh at all these comments agreeing with you and loving it. “Our generation” is so irresponsible. It’s depressing.

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      […] the potential for emotional complications is huge, and I won’t deny that, but I also know that healthy negotiation and consent is […]

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