The typical expectations about romance are that women want commitment and men run from it. This is a story that’s fed to most little girls and boys from the moment they can understand romantic connection. Most TV shows, books and movies reinforce the idea that a woman will inevitably have to drag a man to the altar once she’s ready to get married.
But what if an adult woman rejects this? That’s what I started to do in my late 20s, and I ultimately came to the conclusion that I don’t want commitment. The problem is: When I tell most men this, they don’t believe me.
Most men I meet think they want a woman who just wants to have fun, but they actually want a woman who wants only them. Worse yet, most men simply ignore the actual words I’m speaking when I say I don’t want anything from them except a few good days in the sack.
I wasn’t always this way. I got married at age 26 to a man nine years older than me, thinking that would be my happily-ever-after. I should have, however, spent more time thinking about what I truly wanted out of life. Less than a year into my marriage, I knew it was going to end. I wasn’t cut out for the monogamous life.
Since we’re force-fed the idea that women are “supposed” to want commitment, the thought that I might not startled me. But after years of personal growth and critical thinking about my own desires (and some therapy thrown in for good measure!), I realized that there’s nothing wrong with me. Rather, there’s something wrong with the idea that all women are “supposed” to want the same thing.
I began to approach my romantic interactions with a straightforward, take-it-or-leave-it attitude. Normally, well before we actually meet for our first date, I will let men know what I’m looking for. Usually, it involves a statement like this: “My only goal is to have fun with you while it’s fun and then leave when it’s not. I am not into commitment, not into building something, and really only looking for some company and possibly a good lay.”
Harsh? Maybe. But I believe in radical honesty, and I want to give the men I date all the information they need up front so that I’m not responsible for any hurt feelings.
Since I’ve been committed to non-monogamy, my relationships have followed largely the same trajectory: The men I meet are at first excited that they won’t have to offer me any kind of commitment; then, when reality sets in, they get jealous of other men I’m dating. Then they initiate a “serious conversation” about where our relationship is going and ask why I can’t seem to settle myself down to be with only them.
My response is usually the same: I get angry that they completely ignored what I explicitly told them days or weeks earlier. And then I get confused about why they just can’t believe some women don’t want commitment.
Is it some kind of unbearable hit to male egos when a woman doesn’t want to tie them down? Perhaps it’s just a lack of listening skills.
I suspect, however, it’s something different: Just as women have been brainwashed to believe their only route to a happy life is a lifelong husband and a house full of children, men have been brainwashed to believe a woman should be expending all her energy trying to get them to commit. Men also have an infuriating tendency to think they know better than I do: They think I’m just not ready for commitment now, that I’ll grow to love them, and, of course, that all girls want to settle down eventually.
My desire not to commit isn’t about the men I meet; it’s about me. For a while, I would feel bad about hurting these men. No longer.
If I’m completely honest about what I’m looking for from day one, and the men I date are too dense to listen, well, too bad. I was wise enough not to commit, so I’m free to move on to the next one.