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Fear of Non-Commitment

 
No, this doesn't have anything to do with romance or intimacy. It does have to do with relationships–any kind of social relationships and how people make commitments to each other or not. And come to think of it, this is more about anger than fear, though "Anger about non-commitment" would be a less catchy title, so here we are.

When I make a commitment, any kind of commitment, be it, "Yes, I will chair that committee for the next few months," or be it, "Yes, I will play that card game with you tonight," I do my damnedest to keep it. Monumental or minimal, if I tell someone I'll do something, I will do it. If I fear something might get in the way, I tell them upfront, so they know, because I don't want to let down someone who's counting on me, even if all they're counting on me for is check the mail for them or something.

Shit happens, of course: accidents, people who waylay you on your way somewhere, and plain old absentmindedness, among other things. I have been a victim of all these things. But I think I do a good job of sticking to my commitments, or if I can't, letting the person know I can't as soon as I possibly can, and I try to make it up to them if possible and appropriate. Also, I try not to commit to things I know I won't be able to handle.

That's why I really get pissed off when other people don't keep their commitments with me. They're late and they don't call when they could have, or they tell me we'll do something together, and then they forget or reschedule at the very very very last minute (repeatedly) or just don't show up. Like a couple weeks ago, this guy calls me and asks me if I want to play this role-playing game; I had no idea they were playing because he had said he would call beforehand to let us know if we were playing or not. I do not consider calling me the day–evening, actually, a couple hours after it should have started–of the potential game "beforehand." There's a commitment broken there. Then he asks me if I can join the group next week, since I was already busy that day. I say yes, and he tells me the game will start at two next week. I show up that day at two and he's not there. I wait two and a half hours. One other person involved with the game shows up, and discovering the GM is not there, immediately leaves. I am hanging out with other people so I don't mind sitting around there, but the situation is still ridiculous. Yeah, it's just a game, but it was also two and a half hours (three and a half, counting time it takes to get me there and get home) that I could have spent doing Christmas shopping or something. No word, no message ever sent about what the heck happened, or if the game did or ever will happen. I'm sure this kind of stuff has happened to you and it pisses you off, too.

My other beef regarding commitments has to do with the times when people tell you they'll do something for you, but it falls through because they are too busy. I know some people who constantly will plan a get together or game or whatnot and then cancel because something's come up, they're too busy, etc. GET A CLUE PEOPLE: if you know you're busy, DON'T PLAN IT! This kind of thing happens a lot in more "official" avenues as well, when someone, say, agrees to attend certain meetings or something for their community or workplace, but he or she constantly cancels because they have too many other commitments. I'll use a kind of inane but useful example (also gaming related, just to sort of keep this thematic): I was trying to get into an online roleplaying game, but my character needed to be sanctioned by a Storyteller (Game Master) before I could join. I waited in the "sanction room" for about an hour and a half. In that time, one GM came and left, and another one was there, but posted a message that basically said, "I'll try and help you guys, but I'm at work so I may not be able to, or it'll take me awhile at least." I'm not sure what I found more frustrating: the idiocy of the GM for promising to "take a shift" at the chatroom while he was at work, the idiocy of the chat designers for building a Storyteller moderated game when not enough GMs could commit to helping out wholeheartedly, or the fact that not only was this particular GM stupid enough to try and do heavy game work while at his job, he was disrespectful of his commitment to his employer, trying to do game stuff when he should have been doing more important things.

Behavior like this is thoughtless and rude. I can't write this rant and say I have been able to say I have been able to keep my commitments 100% of the time; I don't think anyone in this world can, but I really do all I can to keep my commitments as much as possible. If I have to commit to something I know I can't put my all into–say, like when I was asked to chair my meeting's peace committee even though I was swamped with other activities at the time–I make that clear at the start, so there're no surprises (and I only missed a peace committee meeting once, come to think of it). I will reiterate: mistakes, accidents, and emergencies happen, and I know that. But I think people also need to think about the things they say they'll do in their lives, how they feel when other people break the obligations they've made to them, and the frustration and time-wasting this causes. And please, please, please, friends: if you are busy, don't take on too much at once. It's better for your own health first of all, and you'll keep your friendships much better if you're not constantly making dates you end up breaking.

 


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