Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

GUEST BLOGGER: Amanda Kane, LSW









Everybody Loves to Hate Commitment-Phobes

It is award season in Hollywood, and the George Clooney flick, Up in the Air, has been lauded as a standout picture of 2009. I recently saw the movie and immediately thought of this blog. The movie is rich with fodder for relationship discussions. The protagonist of the movie is a classic commitment-phobe. A “lone wolf” that moves through life without connections or relationships to “weigh” him down.

Up in the Air encouraged me to reflect on the pathology of the commitment- phobe. Society mythologizes this (usually male) person as a sad soul who doesn’t realize the joy of true love (and marriage). George Clooney’s real life persona probably exemplifies the absolute most attractive version of the commitment-phobe type. Isn’t the press constantly hounding poor Clooney about his disinclination toward marriage? Why the fascination? I think that because marriage is the typical route for heterosexual males, those that buck this traditional path are particularly threatening.

Is the decision to be single pathological? Society generally makes it out to be that way, but I would argue that it is a totally valid lifestyle choice. Most lifestyles choices are valid if—(and the if is crucial)—they are made from a place of self-knowledge. Whether the choice is to be single, married, or something less defined and in-between, then the conscious decision not to marry is completely legitimate.

Of course anything in extreme is usually not healthy. Everyone needs intimate relationships—platonic or romantic—as well as various social connections. Ryan Bingham is an extreme example of the commitment-phobe, someone who is alone for mostly unconscious reasons. The media has drawn obvious parallels between the real George Clooney and his Up in the Air character. But my impression of George Clooney is that he is psychologically healthier and less extreme than his character. I wonder what others think about commitment-phobes?

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