Carolyn Hax: Is this a commitment issue, or a bad-taste-in-men issue?


Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: I turned 30 last month and I always thought by this age I’d be ready to settle down and get married. I’m not even close and I’m starting to wonder if it’s because I don’t fully focus on the man I’m dating whenever the going gets hard.

Thanks to dating apps, there are so many options and I can’t help but think about the possibility there’s someone better for me out there — someone more caring, funnier, hotter, more in tune with me. It’s not like these thoughts are in the forefront the whole time, but I usually get six months or even a year into a relationship and as soon as we hit a few bumps, I start to wonder if I really found the right guy.

How do you know the difference between someone not being long-term compatible with you and you having commitment issues? It took both of my parents two tries to find the right person — could that be affecting me? In case you wonder: Yes, I have considered therapy, spoken to a few therapists, still looking for one I like who has availability. I also have a great job, hobbies, lots of friends, and am pretty happy with my life but I’d still like to marry and maybe be a mom someday.

— Can’t Commit

Can’t Commit: The “someone better for me out there … more in tune with me” person you’re looking for is probably (ugh) you.

Sorry. So trite. But also so often, over and over and over again, the answer to someone who is darting around looking for something and feeling unfocused and unsatisfied. So often, the better answer than “figure out what you’re looking for” is “figure out why you’re looking so hard in the first place.” Whatever the reason, if you’re looking, then you’re by definition not fully present where you are.

So I urge you to do just that: Stop and breathe and be present where you are. Even if you’ve done this once already — even if that’s how you got yourself to “great job, hobbies, lots of friends” and “pretty happy with my life,” no small accomplishment, it might just mean you need to stop and breathe again.

Part of the reason is pragmatic. You want a partner and maybe children, nothing wrong with that — but they’re also not guaranteed. The only guaranteed life configuration you have is you. So being okay-contented-thrilled with that is all win.

Part of the reason is romantic-pragmatic. The person I suspect you will want to keep is the one you notice when you feel so right in your life as-is that you don’t feel a sense of urgency about adding anyone to it — until the person himself makes a case for that urgency. Until you can’t imagine life without him. Or just really really don’t want to.

Readers’ thoughts:

  • One thing I found helpful to accept long before getting married was there will ALWAYS be someone better (funnier, hotter, whatever) out there. The point of marriage isn’t to nab the best one, like a trophy. I truly think the path to finding the right person is “dump early, dump often.” Really. Keep that relationship space open if it’s not being occupied by someone really great.
  • The longest relationship I had before meeting my husband was a little over a year. There’s nothing wrong with you for not trying to force something that cracks at the first sign of pressure.


Source: WP