Whether it’s him, her, them, they, or even you – here’s why we can’t commit.
Warning: This may contain some things you don’t want to hear.
The song that gets the biggest reaction at a party or a wedding is hands down Single Ladies by Beyonce. You know what I’m talking about. All of a sudden, ladies from all over the room flock to the centre of the floor. All the people who didn’t want to dance to anything else all of a sudden jump up and join the party. Heck, women you didn’t even know were at the party suddenly materialize and start singing out that titular line, “If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it”. All the single men in the room go on notice, and all the men who are “just dating” their ladies start to sweat just that little bit more. The composers really nailed it with the lyrics they put together on this one.
Commitment issues are typically associated with men. There’s that stigma that men just need to man up and commit to their chosen lady. However, it has also been acknowledged that commitment issues are not gender specific, and all sorts of people find themselves facing the challenges of having to lock in a decision either way.
While most relevant to dating and relationships, commitment issues can affect multiple areas of life – career, study, family, or indeed even marriage and dating. Many people find themselves challenged when confronted with someone who just refuses to make a commitment, or even personally challenged when they just can’t seem to commit themselves.
So here are some reasons I think hold us back from committing, and some of the reasons why we find it so difficult. Some of these aren’t going to be very nice to hear, but perhaps if we want to step into areas we’ve never stepped into before, we’re going to need to be real about those harder topics in life.
Because you think you still need more information
I wanted to start us off easy by mentioning the reason a lot of us don’t commit right there on the spot. It’s very rare for us to just make a spur of the moment, life changing decision on the spot. On most of the bigger decisions, we like to take a bit more time to consider the ramifications of going down a particular path, and we also want to make sure that we’re making a decision from a place of wisdom.
And so you don’t marry him then and there on the spot – you spend some time with him in dating or in groups or both, before you decide to progress or regress the relationship. You don’t make a hasty investment decision with your finances – you research the company, or learn more about the people who will be making the decisions going forward. You don’t just jump into a career, you usually try to make sure it’s something you could do for the next X years of your life.
There is wisdom in collecting information.
There comes a point where you have collected enough facts to make a decision either way. Leadership speaker and author John Maxwell says that “Overanalysis creates paralysis”. And so many of us continue to ask questions until we’re blue in the face…
…and we still haven’t made a decision yet. Lots of facts but no forward motion.
Because you’ll lose your options
We’re a society that loves our options. My grandfather made us laugh once when we went to a McDonald’s with him one morning a few years ago. The lady behind the counter asked him what he wanted to order. He said, “Breakfast”. She stared at him wondering which item/s of the several dozen on the menu he was after. Go to a Starbucks or a Gloria Jeans and try ordering a “coffee”. You can’t. You have to customize its size, flavour, shape, texture, decoration, sometimes even temperature.
We’re all about having our options. All the girls or guys we could potentially be interested in or develop relationship with. All the various jobs we could do. All the different areas we could invest our finance or our time and abilities.
The problem is with having so many open doors that we don’t walk through is that eventually, all of them will close.
We think we can put off life. And sure, there are cases where it may be safe or right to delay a decision, or to keep a Plan B for a rainy day.
But you’ll never be able to fully invest yourself in anything. You won’t be able to date/court/marry/ask out him or her because you’ll always be looking over your shoulder for a better offer, or for someone to change their mind. You won’t work to the best of your ability in your job because it’s “you’re still not sure if it’s what you want to do”. You will be a lousy and self-seeking servant because your current service is only to further your own agenda.
And don’t be surprised if the option that was here for a time is gone in the future. There is often a window of opportunity, and all too often we miss it because of our indecision. She’s not going to wait around her whole life. He’s going to get tired of jumping through hoops. That job offer may go to someone else. Don’t leave your car in park if the light is green to go.
We have all the options in the world, and we choose none of them, and in doing so, we only live half a life being half as fruitful as we could be.
What are you waiting for?
Because you want someone else to decide for you
A frequent statement I hear a lot around the place is “I just want someone to decide for me”. Pre-arranged marriage, pre-arranged career path, someone to tick the boxes for you, and to hold your hand while you cross the street, and to do up your bib for you after they have chosen what meal you should eat that night.
I mean, it worked for you when you were 5 years old.
But it’s not very becoming of someone in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and onwards to still be waiting for someone else to live your life for you.
And as long as you’re waiting for someone else to tell you what to do, you won’t do anything.
Because you don’t have a magical golden light highlighting what you should do
Disney movies taught us that when you find the right person, the light will hit them at just the right angle, the heavens will open, the angels will begin singing, and the two of you will instantly elope on the spot. The resolution of many Hollywood movies is after not enjoying a career path, we will instantly find the path to travel down and never have a problem again.
Wake up people. This is real life.
Real life requires you to take some risks. Real life requires you to negotiate challenges and to deal with the hard times. There is no path in life that won’t bring with it some difficulty. The question is whether or not the difficulty is worth it.
You may actually need to put in some hard yards to get the results you want.
As a Christian speaking to Christians who may be reading this for a minute, a lot of us are waiting for God to force us down the path we should go. And aren’t you frustrated that after years of praying that prayer, it still hasn’t happened? Because God doesn’t force you to live your life. He asks you to gain wisdom, grow in relationship with Him, get direction, and step out. If you aren’t sure what God is telling you, then that is the area of your life you need to get sorted out, instead of just throwing your hands up in the air and remaining idle.
Take a step of faith.
Because you want someone else’s story
If you don’t know how good you’ve got it, if you are unaware of the person and people and employment and talents that have been given to you, you will take it for granted, and your heart will desire “greener pastures” somewhere else. Always looking at what everyone else is doing. Always wishing what happened to them will happen to you the exact same way it happened to “them”.
It won’t. It’s going to happen to you the way it’s going to happen to you.
Your jealousy may be robbing you of enjoying the reasons in your life that others are jealous of you.
Learn to be grateful and to own your own decisions. You’ll be amazed at how much more you get out of life.
Because commitment decides this is the best decision you can make
Maybe we are going about the decision to commit the wrong way. Maybe our uncertainty of what commitment actually means is what stops us from making a medium term or long term decision.
I work full time as a Software Consultant. If someone decides to go to the beach during the day on a work day, it doesn’t matter to me. My commitment is to my company, and I have purposed that I will be present and attentive during work hours, and that there is no better use of my time. Can you imagine how ineffective I would be at my job if I was always looking at what someone else was doing, and not paying any attention to my job?
Commitment is the decision that there is no better option than the choice you’ve made. If someone “better” comes along, it doesn’t matter, because this is the man or woman who you’ve decided is best for you. If they disappoint you, hurt you, or let you down, it doesn’t matter because it’s their heart you have chosen to attach yours to. The same holds true for any commitment you make in life.
And sure, there are some areas of life that are seasonal – the place you work, maybe even your occupation or physical location – but be sure that you are committed to your season, and that you commit to the transition when a season change comes.
And if things aren’t the way you want them to be – if you don’t have the friendships you want, if you don’t have the relationship you want, if he or she isn’t all you thought they could be, if your work environment isn’t what you hoped – why don’t you decide to do everything in your power to improve them? The grass is greener where you water it.
Commit to your family. Commit to friends. Commit to your relationships. Commit to partnership and involvement and significance.
Commit to living your life.
Jesus said “Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No – anything more than this comes from evil”. Make a decision. If it’s a yes, make it a yes, If it’s a no, make it a no.
Nothing good in life ever came without making a commitment. Commitment keeps you going through the times when things look bad, when you don’t want to keep going, when the results don’t look too promising just now. But it is commitment that leads you to that place of fruitfulness. It’s commitment and faithfulness in the little that leads you to a place of faithfulness with much.
There are so many more reasons why we can’t commit, and I’ve written about a bunch of related issues before. In the meantime, why do you think we can’t commit? Join the discussion below.