Defining commitment

The word “commitment” is one of those strange words that normally the definition of it, is given to us. It normally is not something we go to the dictionary and look up.  The definition in the context of relationship is especially important, and there again, the definition is normally given to us without the option to question it.

In the past when patients come into my office to talk about an “affair”, which I quickly change to “secondary relationship” to take the shame out of it, I ask them their definition of “commitment”.  Without fail and without a single exception over the decades of doing this work, the eyes roll back in their heads and they give me some response that includes being indebted to another, trapped.  Nothing will set a person up faster for failure than feeling trapped and indebted to someone or something. If you put an animal in a cage, will they not look for any opportunity to escape, especially if their needs are not being met?  Why would human beings be any different? There is an old Blues song from the 1930’s, where a Billy Holiday-esk voice sings about “when the home fires are burning, there’s no need to go lookin for a new log…”  and so it is with commitment in relationships.

Commitment has to be solely to one’s self.  Nothing else will forge a successful intimacy based relationship. When you are committed to showing up fully in a relationship it means that you are going to tell the absolute truth. When you commit to telling the truth, you grow in self esteem, integrity and trust. When the person you have chosen to make that commitment with, to show up 100%, it means you have found someone that is able to do the same with you.  There are no white lies, no deceptions, and no need to lie.  Period.

The dynamic that must accompany that is also “not to take anything personally.” Nothing they reflect to you is about you, or was meant to hurt you.  You can not take anything personally.

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