I want them to commit but I don’t want to. How do I fix this?

CheeseIsReallyGood asks:

When I’m dating a guy I always fluctuate between not being that interested and wondering whether I should dump him, and being really scared and getting really emotional when I get the slightest hint that he could be losing interest in me.

So I kind of want the guy to be completely mine and committed to me, but I want to still have other options open, I constantly look for other people I’m attracted to.

How do I fix this? I feel horrible because of it, it’s like I’m using them to boost my confidence or to not be lonely.

Demetrius says:

At the very least, you know that what you’re doing is a problem, so that’s a start.

And before I answer in earnest, let me lead by saying that I am not a licensed mental health professional. This advice is from a layman. I would highly recommend seeking out someone, a professional, to help you sort things out.

With that said, what you’re doing is very understandable. Not that I’m excusing the behavior, but I can understand your motivations. I think you’ve got a fear of rejection, or a fear of abandonment, and that’s pretty relatable. How you respond to that fear might not be healthiest thing, but people tend to react to fear in complicated ways.

It doesn’t seem like you’re afraid of being alone per se, but I think that the idea of falling for someone, and the loss of control that comes with those feelings, scares you. Because you can’t control whether people will stick with you or not once you develop feelings for them, you reject them, and not letting them reject you.

Sometimes it’s easier to hurt ourselves than it is to leave the door open to be hurt.

It’s a feeling I’m all too familiar with. I used to have a very deep seeded fear of abandonment, one that came from a long personal history of loss. I’ll spare you the maudlin details, but a lot of significant people to me have died, especially between the years when I was a child and well into my early 20s. My fear of abandonment wasn’t about being lonely; it was about having no control over losing someone I love. Instead of dealing with the root of my fear, I tried my hardest to push people away before them leaving could hurt me. The more affection I felt for someone, the more afraid I became of losing them. So rather than confronting that fear, or the eventual pain of them leaving, I pushed them away. In my mind, it was easier to deal with the pain of loss if you created the loss.

So, my advice to you is, let those feelings pass. Whenever you feel doubt about whether you should be with someone or dump them, sit and process those feelings and not  rushing to act on them. There’s always the possibility that someone you’re seeing is  actually losing interest in you, but you don’t have to be the one to decide to end things. If they end things, your point will be proven so you can always take solace in that. Yes it will hurt, but at least you’ll know you tried. But if you end things, you’ll never know if you were right or wrong, and maybe you’ll force  someone  away who might have stayed. What I would recommend you to do is NEVER preemptively end things because you think someone has lost interest in you. It might seem like you’re in control when you do that, but you’re not. You’re giving over control your fear.

Preemptively ending things is still going to cause you pain, but it leaves no chance that it won’t hurt. There’s always a chance that if you give someone the opportunity to NOT hurt you, they won’t. And in my opinion, love is worth taking that risk.

Good Luck Out There.

Also published on Medium.