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.
Well I don’t.
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.