1 July 1998
Vol. 225, No. 1, ISSN: 0010-9541
Making a romantic commitment is like riding the Boomerang at Great Escape--it's too expensive, it takes forever to get there, and there's always that moment right at the top when you think, I am going to die.
Okay, commitment isn't exactly like the Boomerang: It has no height requirement.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a born romantic. I like to cry. I often do. But two months before I was to marry Julie, I started feeling ... something. I couldn't figure it out. Zoning out at work, ambling into traffic. It wasn't until I felt my heart racing in a stress-free yoga class that I realized what was up: I was freaking out.
Whether it's walking down the aisle or just picking up a toothbrush for her place, men freak. And it can be a jarring journey for the women in our lives--you may well wonder why your once-steady man is now a raving lunatic.
It's a craziness that sets in when we sense we're slipping closer to commitment. But just because we're freaking out doesn't mean we're having doubts about where the romance is headed. Like most men, I knew what I was doing: marrying Julie was absolutely the tight move.
Said my heart. My bead was another story. That's where the freakout started.
First, I heard voices. Many were mine: Now you'll never rough it in Ghana. Then again, some belonged to that enemy of romance: my pals.
"Don't tie yourself down," said Mark--actually, pleaded.
"Why don't you just move in with her?" asked Robert.
"Go to grad school." (That one was my dad.)
And leave it to Randy to say, "You could do better."
Could I? Now I would never know for sure.
That leads to the second reason guys bug out. I think we're programmed, genetically, to want to spread our seed--uh, screw around. And that's why when it looked like my seed--spreading days were over, I found myself in the street comparing babes to my bride-to-be. She's taller I was thinking. She has bigger boobs. And worse, I started to push the boundaries a little: One night I was talking to a female friend who had red hair--the same shade I tell Julie she'd look good with--hand I noticed my right hand lingering on her back.
That leads me to the third reason why men wig out: We're afraid we'll fad at monogamy. That we don't have what it takes to keep it zippered. It's a big challenge, a long hard road. Every man who makes a real commitment is embarked on a long and dangerous journey, bracing to face enemies he can't foresee. And he wonders, Can I pull this off?
My freakout wasn't so bad, though I was not the only one who noticed my hand on Red's back. But Julie wasn't sucked in by the undertow of my freakout wave; she rode out the storm instead, which is why she enjoys the calm we now share. She somehow knew--as all women should know--it's during that neurotic time that a man comes to grips with the fact that he can survive the long, monogamous journey ahead.
As for me, we just celebrated our fifth anniversary. We've had our ups and downs, of course, but nothing quite as rocky as my commitment-to-romance jitters.