Why should I be in a committed relationship?

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In my last column, Welcome to Heartbreak, I wrote about my dilemma in seeing a woman who I know likes me more than I like her.

This situation is not new for me, and was only worth writing about in this case because the woman in question is brand new to the dating game. Otherwise, the story is relatively unremarkable in my experience. I’ve been involved in similar situations many times before, with more experienced women, and my response is to make sure I never patronize them. If they tell me they can handle being with me without me being fully with them, I believe them. Until they tell me they can’t.

The genuinely noteworthy aspect of my last column then is the block I briefly described that prevents me from actually committing to these women.

I mentioned that the block began with a bad breakup in 2011, and that’s true, but the breakup was the primary cause of the block for just a few initial months. A commenter on the last column suggested I see a therapist to deal with that incident in order to allow myself to move forward, but that’s a misunderstanding of my situation. Shortly after the breakup I pushed the girl out of my memories, and got over the whole affair. Yet the block has morphed into something deeper, and more intellectual. Something detached from the girl, and reliant on other factors.

I’ve thought about the block a lot, and have some ideas as to why it may still be lingering around.

A simple answer may be that it’s just a normal young man’s problem. I’m only 23, and I don’t really think I need to worry about settling down any time soon. So in a sense, the block may not even be a problem at all, at least not for now. But I worry that I’ll be at the same place when I’m 28. If that happens, I’ll be in trouble. So, as someone who likes to think instead of feel, I’ve intellectualized the whole thing to try to figure it out.

In one sense, I’ve become extremely self confident and sure of myself in the last few years. I get much more female attention than before, and I’m far better equipped to deal with it. This wasn’t the case when I met my first love a few years ago. In a way I latched onto her as one of the rare people who came my way and stopped by, instead of just passing through. Now, however, my dating outlook has morphed into some crude meritocracy, where I understand I have a lot of options, and there are no obvious benefits to tying myself down to any person in particular.

I know this has likely influenced my inability to commit, yet at the same time I’m not too upset about it. I don’t think people should let themselves settle easily. Instead, they should realize just how valuable they are. Since I’ve entered the Muslim dating scene, I’ve also been frightened by just how casually some Muslims approach marriage. People seem to discuss marriage as if it’s picking out a fall coat, which is disturbing for me as I perceive marriage as probably one of the most serious choices in one’s life. So, while self regard may prevent me from committing, it also prevents me from wasting my time on subpar people. As such, I don’t think it’s too much of a serious concern.

The real problem, I think, is that I’ve fundamentally lost any idea of what the benefit of getting into a relationship is. The type of love depicted in Hollywood, music and novels seems like a myth, and the reality of relationships seems like something not worth taking on. I see stress, fights, abuse, cheating, and divorce. Even in the good ones, I see settling. I see a period of strong infatuation, followed by a decline that comes with the decision. The decision that instead of moving on, this will be good enough. The foundation is shaky, but let’s build on it anyway and see what happens.

It only seems to get worse from that point. A relationship is supposed to be an aid keeping you afloat in the sea of life, but in reality it seems to becomes an anchor, keeping you stuck in the same place, or a concrete block, dragging you down. I’m confident I can swim on my own, so maybe a raft is more of a hindrance than a help.

This is what flashes through my mind every time someone wants to date me. A cold calculation, with the sum always telling me I can’t get anything from dating them that I don’t already have.

And yet, in some corner of my brain, I know I am profoundly wrong. I know my viewpoint is likely one I’ll cringe at as I grow older, one that’s immature and out of sync with some deep truth that others seem to have stumbled upon.

So, because I don’t see myself seeking out the experience that will provide me with that knowledge anytime soon, can you share yours? For those in relationships, or who have been in them and still feel good about them, what is the benefit? What is the point? Why is it better than being alone?

PS: Please say something more than, ‘marriage is half of your deen.’

Read more by Luca on love, sex & dating after converting to Islam, here.

Luca [pen name] is a journalist living in Canada.


4 Comments on “Why should I be in a committed relationship?”

  1. Lisa Kling says:

    I think the biggest benefit is there is someone there to bear witness to your life and you theirs. Having said that, I am not in a relationship right now… but I have learned from experience that “settling” is never the answer and to seek that person who truly is a compliment to my life. Someone who I can be me with – and there is the crux of it… learning who YOU are and what YOU want.

  2. I’ll start off by saying that I’m not married. However, I am in a committed relationship currently and happy. I have always been a very independent person, even more so over the past 5 years or so, and I’m quite comfortable traveling on my own, dining solo, buying myself flowers when the mood strikes, etc. Essentially, I treat myself with respect, love and care. When I meet someone who values me as much as I value myself, and I in turn reciprocate, then the experiences I normally am comfortable owning alone are that much more fulfilling if shared with that person. When I share my life with someone, I find that I’m more attentive, caring, selfless and kind. This is if the relationship is healthy. If it’s the opposite, then one is obviously settling and not achieving their potential as an individual or a part of a couple.

  3. Having a person to spend time with, do things with (like hiking, traveling), ect is for me, more important than the sexual part of a relationship. I have been divorced for 10 years, after being married for 18, and have first learned how to be by myself (but of course still present for my kids). As my kids age, and I do too (I am almost 50), I hope someday to find a man who I can spend time with, just enjoying nature, having fun, without being pushed for sexual intimacy. All the men I have met so far are WAY too touchy, and it is very uncomfortable. I am at a crossroads and have looked at reverting to Islam for a long time now, and certainly want to be right with God!

  4. E.C.A says:

    Love your columns and I am always looking forward to reading them. This one though I think shows what many other guys think about love and relationships… which kind of sucks. The assumptions built on the statements are incredibly problematic for me. For instance, “settling”. Who said that just because I like you, I want to settle with you? Who says that I want to tie you down? who says I can’t “swim” alone? I guess that’s what divides the mature ones from the rest… you don’t need to lose your self to be in a partnership. In fact, if you do, it is not truly a partnership.

    Are you looking for a benefit in dating someone? Then, you may be looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place… relationships (romantic and otherwise) are not always about benefits, often times they are about sacrifices. But when you truly love someone it tends to come naturally.

    I am not telling you the right girls will come about and blah blah blah… in fact, if one is not ready to receive that right person, it may just cross by. You are 23, so you are young. I am 27 and dating men of all ages just to realize that the feelings you have about dating do not go away with age… the may, in fact, become worse… so perhaps it is time to reconsider what you want in life? If you are okay with casual, That’s great. there are plenty of women who are too.

    And I think that what it comes down to is that you always need to be honest and give women the option to be with you “casually” knowing from the beginning where is going… I hate men that do not give me that option.