Tuesday, September 01, 2009

"He's Scared, She's Scared"

When I decided that I would be doing a little bit of research for posting material, I went to my local Barnes & Noble to browse the love and relationship section. At the time, I was curious about my self-diagnosed commitmentphobia and found the perfect book with which to educate myself. Who better to reference than the very authors who originally coined the term “commitmentphobia”?

Having been published in 1993, the book He's Scared, She's Scared, written by Steven Carter and Julia Sokol, is slightly dated in its references to the changing landscape of modern dating. It refers multiple times to the new, independent, modern woman – the type of woman that I’ve always considered myself to be and a gender role that has become common and familiar to my generation. The book addresses this subject to emphasize the evolution of gender relations and the shift from the perception that men have the monopoly on fear of commitment. Aside from these slightly dated details, I think this book is as useful as any I have ever read in addressing a subject so comprehensively.

Unlike The Man Plan, He’s Scared, She’s Scared uses scores of anecdotes and partial case studies very effectively to illustrate its points. The authors use these stories to put the behaviors they outline into real-life context. I don’t think that anyone could read this book without recognizing a relationship that they’ve been in or witnessed in one or more of the cautionary tales. The Sister’s relationship with her first boyfriend was so classically commitmentphobic that I almost believed she must have been interviewed for the book. (I actually Priority Mailed her the book almost as soon as I was finished reading it. It should be quite useful to her.)

The ideas in He’s Scared, She’s Scared are complex and involved. I won’t outline even the basics here, but if you have any reason to believe that you have issues with commitment or that your partner does, I highly recommend reading this book. It doesn’t treat people with commitment problems like they’re crazy or like there’s no hope for progress – it’s actually quite the opposite. There is even an appendix at the end with tips on how to deal with a commitmentphobic relationship, whichever stage it’s in and whichever role you’re playing in it.

Surprisingly for all of my asserting that I need space and my independence, I don’t seem to be an actual commitmentphobe. I have made mistakes in selecting partners and I have repeated a couple of odd patterns, but I don’t perpetuate the same destructive patterns that are detailed in He’s Scared, She’s Scared. The reason that I didn’t want to stay with PC and didn’t want to marry him wasn’t that I’m afraid to commit: it was that he was just the wrong guy for me. So there is hope for me (and maybe for Joe Montana) after all. If you think you might have issues with commitment, I think this book can show you that there’s hope for you as well.

Lyrics of the Day

"If you'd only seen yourself hating me, when I'd been so much more than fair. But then you'd have to lay those feelings bare. One thing I know has still got you scared." The Shins Turn On Me

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