Today we hear a lot about young adults and our fear of commitment. As a generation, millennials tend to switch jobs more often, wait longer to get married and to buy a home. Various sources list different reasons for this. Some say it’s because we value lifestyle over economic stability (i.e. we’d rather be able to have a job that allows us more flexibility than get paid more), others say that we simply can’t afford to get married, or buy a car or a home (potentially due to our emphasis on flexibility > pay). And then there’s those who say it all comes down to our fear of commitment itself.
As a millennial who knows a lot of other millennials, I would say that each of these reasons may factor in to an extent. And while the fact that we may have a fear of committing- especially to other people- is slightly concerning, there is another commitment I’ve come to learn is actually more important.
Commitment to ourselves.
Ooooohhh, what’s that?
I’ll tell you.
As an avid reader myself, one of my favorite online publications is called Verily Magazine. All about lifestyle, relationships & health. I love how the contributors offer refreshing perspectives on today’s various issues and challenges and how we can face them with grace and a good attitude.
A few months ago, I emailed one of the Verily contributors named Zach Brittle. For a while I read Zach’s column called Intentional Marriage. I love his style and the great advice he offers as a marriage counselor. Even though I am not married, I have always found relationships fascinating and love learning about what makes for a healthy marriage (#goals, amiright).
I decided to email Zach because I had recently entered into my first relationship and had a question that I felt required a more experienced perspective. My question was this:
How can I be more selfish?
I know that may seem like an odd question – it kind of is – but it is also one that I feel is highly relevant and valid. When we start dating someone, I think a lot of us have a tendency to make the other person a priority over pretty much everything else…including ourselves. Family, friends, extra-curricular activities and self-care take the backseat as we focus on this new person who we want to learn more about – which requires a fair amount of time and energy.
The thing is, you can’t expect to enter into a relationship with someone and not expect your life to change. So where do you draw the line? How do you ensure you’re being fair to the other person and your relationship while also staying true to who you are and what you need. We can’t expect to be fulfilled by the other person; to do so would be a) not possible and b) unfair to the other person – so essentially incredibly unhealthy and a recipe for disaster.
Zach’s response was both very wise and very generous- not to mention super helpful. His main point was this:
Before you can commit to someone else, you have to be committed to yourself.
What does this mean?
In his words: ‘Crafting a plan for how to take care of your mind, your body, your heart, your soul.’
How are you committing to yourself? What is your plan to challenge yourself intellectually, your plan to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually? A plan that you make and stick to. A commitment you make to and for yourself- not for anyone else.
Zach emphasized that really my question was about self-care, which is NOT selfish because it allows us to love the other person without any strings attached.
You’re no longer looking to the other person to feel confident or to make you happy (again, not possible), but rather appreciating them simply for who they are. After all, isn’t that what we want, too?
We don’t want to be needed, we want to be wanted.
This topic is supremely important to me and a challenge I’ve decided to accept whole-heartedly. I hope you’ll consider doing the same, as your future (or current) s/o will thank you. I may even post this plan at a later date- please feel free to share any commitments you make for yourself! I’d love to hear about it.
Yes, our generation may face a fear of commitment, but that won’t end until we learn to commit to ourselves first.