Trust issues. Emotional unavailability. Fear. These are feelings anyone can have after experiencing commitment breaches. We often bring old and current commitment habits and ruptured emotions into our new spaces.
New relationships often project the “perfected” sides in each partner. During this time, commitment issues aren't at the surface because each encounter is happy. Commitment questions linger in the background, which will surface subtly, bit-by-bit. When the triggers appear, how might a person communicate his or her commitment from a place of abandoned experiences?
I learned about abandonment at 18 while in a toxic relationship. We remained on an emotional roller coaster, riding between highs and lows following the course of his emotional unavailability. Rewinding it back: our relationship began beautifully. He made me feel special, tending to all my wants and needs. We spent a lot of time together that first month.
My brain filled with strong, loving memories. However, by the second month, he no longer followed the patterns we forged. He performed many disappearing acts. One day he took my car to work, called throughout the day, and told me to be ready by that evening to go out. He never came. I didn't see him nor hear from him again until later the next night. His toxic behaviors became the new normal.
So, how can you communicate your need for commitment? I learned a thing or two from that relationship:
1. Write a letter or email. Even though it’s old school, it still has value. Listen. Before the new rise of the internet, the pencil, paper, envelope, and stamp helped in many ways. Write. It does not need to sound cute or be grammatically correct. The point is you have feelings to express without interruptions.
Trust me. The recipient will read your words from beginning to end. This letter also puts him or her in the position to gently approach you for the needed talk. It also helps the other to understand you better. Keep in mind; writing is sometimes ambiguous. Therefore, a follow-up conversation might be necessary.
2. Send a text message. Be cautious. I understand texting is the new method of communication. But, language and tone get lost. I suggest only to use texting to inform the other person that an email is waiting or setting aside a time to listen to your thoughts. Many misunderstandings arise from texting and any resulting animosity adds to your anxiety and pain.
3. Seek counsel. Some people are anti-therapy. Pride allows them to feel and believe that “sitting on a couch” is not best. Feeling safe is key. Be sure to seek counsel that offers coping skills, progressive advice, and helps you understand the core of your discomfort. It doesn’t even have to be a professional – find counsel in a close friend, family member, or co-worker.
4. Communicate affirmation. Surround yourself with an abundance of love. Dismissing any presence of toxicity is imperative. Remember, you are vulnerable. Affirmations will help heal the pains of abandonment. It also makes it lighter to talk during those moments that surge of hurt returns. Affirmations bring about affection, praise, and validation.
When commitment is broken, it can take a while to heal and come back to feeling like yourself – but take the time and and reach out for the help you need. Everything will be okay.
By: Jacqueline T. Hill
Jacqueline has over two decades of experience as a writer, consultant, and teacher. A certified former high school English teacher, she has assisted many students, community leaders, non-profits, aspiring business owners, and families in areas of writing, graphic design, branding, marketing campaigns, and consulting. Her writings and editing services are featured publicly and in high educational settings.