Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 4 - Fear of Romantic Commitments

Adolphe William Bougereau
A Young Girl Defending Herself Against Eros
This post continues with Fear of Romantic Commitments from Chapter Four.

This series will look at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.

 Fear of Romantic Commitments
Commitment-fearing obsessives suffer the most in the romantic realm.  It's not that they can't fall in love.  On the contrary, I've know obsessives who are addicted to the high-adrenaline excitement of romance in the early phases, and who fall in love time after time.  They may even be capable of balancing comfortably in a love relationship for long periods of time.  But whenever they sense an ultimatum to commit themselves in some way to a long-term, exclusive relationship with their romantic partner, their anxiety soars.  They are torn.  If they get up and walk away, they will still have their freedom, but they will have lost a precious source of intimacy and joy.  More important, they may have made an irreversible error that will haunt them forever.  Perhaps they will never fall in love again.  Or if they do, maybe no subsequent partner will ever measure up to the lost love.   
On the other hand, the thought of getting married feels like entering a tunnel that leads directly from the moment of commitment to the grave.  <snip>

This cycle of ultimatum-withdrawal-rapprochement is a common one among commitment-fearing obsessives.  <snip>  The obsessive may then withdraw from the relationship emotionally or physically, or he may start behaving in ways that provoke the other person to get out of it - thus enabling the obsessive to escape blame-free.  But many times when the commitment-seeking partner finally does walk away, the obsessive - now terrified that an end to the relationship may be an irreversible mistake - will try to win the partner back.  <snip>

I may have a bit of Fear Of Commitment Syndrome, myself.  Opening our hearts to another person is one of the hardest things any human being can ever do.  Perhaps it is telling that the Bougereau painting, above, is one of my all time classical favorites.

I've opened myself up, and gotten my heart stomped on with hobnailed boots.  I've held back - and perhaps lost out on what could have been the love of my life, because I wasn't willing to risk opening my heart, and my then-love interest moved on.

And yet... there are no eternal guarantees for anything.  Some of the best love relationships I've observed (from the outside) have not ended well.  Sometimes a partner gets ill, or dies.  Eventually, even if you find the love of your life at 16 and marry at 18 and live your lives happily together till age 108, one of you is going to die.  Perhaps you'll be together in the afterlife (some believe this, some don't), but on this earth, your relationship will end, someday.

Is it a smart trade-off - suffer the pain of never allowing ourselves to love, now, to save ourselves the potential pain of losing that love, someday?  I think that premise goes to the great Cosmic Scorekeeper, the idea that we can save up martyr chips to cash in later... but life doesn't work like that.

My OCPD ex used to bargain with me, that he might do this-and-such, if I would promise to never leave him, no matter what.

Although I was enveloped deep "in the fog," I did have the sense/courage to say, "No.  I will not promise to never leave, no matter what.  I love you, I want to stay with you, but if you repeatedly treat me like garbage, I will leave you.  No, I am not signing up to forever swallow whatever crap you choose to dish out."

And though the hoovering was intense, I am not sorry I moved on.

I think for a relationship to work, we have to feel that both partners are equally risking their hearts.   Hand-in-hand, jumping off that cliff together, not, "You go first, and MAYBE, eventually, if I feel safe enough someday I will join you." 

Have you experienced a reluctance to commit romantically, in yourself or others?
Or a cycle of drawing closer, pulling back, as described in Too Perfect?
Can you commit to Reactions button or a comment, below?  :-)