Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The C Word

A common stereotype about men concerns their commitmentphobia. I don’t think this applies very readily to mormon guys. Guys want sex, or the closest approximation their morality will permit (ie making out.) Sure it’s possible to be a “playa” on the Mormon scale, jumping from girl to girl. But generally, and even more so in a smaller fishbowl community, to get the milk they need the cow. Thus they relatively readily enter relationships. To put a more favorable spin on the phenomena, most missionaries are told to find their EC and get married when they leave their mission. So whereas the worldly male population starts thinking marriage in their 30s (which really, I think is an exaggeration itself because a great many of my heathen friends are getting married in their mid20s), mormon guys tend to start thinking marriage at 21. Or 22 if they are a rebel.

I’m sure mormon girls will say I’m completely off base. They’ll tally up their solo Friday nights, or those of their friends they’ve left behind in the single dust, and say that mormon guys are avoiding relationships. I just don’t think that’s the case. I think if you polled all the EQs in the YSA wards in the world, you’d find that most guys want to be in a relationship. Maybe as I initially asserted they don’t want to be in one for the right reasons, but they want to be in one. The indoctrination has been successful. And I’m not implying that the indoctrination is incorrect. It’s right, we should be getting married, and this is more often than not conveyed in an appropriate manner. But the general nature of singles is not my point today. I just want to talk about commitment.

My question is this: am I commitmentphobe?

These last several years I really don’t have any dating information to analyze to investigate this question. Some would take this as evidence that I am in fact a commitmentphobe. I’d argue that this dearth of data has occurred for other reasons. So let’s turn to a staple of my world view: television.

As mentioned in my Whedon post, I recently finished Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This was a show from 1997, which I started watching in 2008. Why the holdup? A cult hit from a creator I like about vampires starring attractive people? How could I ignore such a show, for an entire decade? Commitment. I knew it was going to be 12 seasons (including Angel) and I knew that this would be a big time commitment. So I held off for a long time. But eventually, I manned up and watched Buffy.

Last month I made an even bigger commitment: Doctor Who. I’ve yet to meet a British show I didn’t like. Throw in Brits engaging in whacky time traveling adventures, and it was clearly a show I’d be interested in. But again, we’ve got more than 12 seasons here. More like 80 jillion. Seriously, this show has been on since the dawn of time and/or television. But I’m not a crazy person, I’m starting with the 9th Doctor and will work back as needed. That will make sense to the hyper-nerds among you.

So my point here, is that I think my television watching indicates commitment traits. Because obviously being in a relationship is just like watching tv. They’re not the same thing, but I think it shows a tendency of mine. I am willing to start long term projects. I do feel the need to continue projects once I’ve started them. But I am willing to cut the cord/apron strings/losses when I need to. Heroes no longer occupies a spot on my Tivo. My Tivo in fact, is no longer occupies a spot on my shelves. I’m also not one to stay in a relationship (nor start one) when it’s clearly not for me.

On the opposition side: church callings. I served as the Activities Coordinator for my ward for a little over a year. And because my partners kept getting married off (side note: the Activities Coordinator Blessing lives on: all coordinators after me have left due to marriage) it was a pretty time intensive calling. My bishop told me ahead of time that he wanted me in the calling for a year, so when he offered me an out at 13 months, I took it. And I don’t feel remotely guilty about that. But, would a commitmentphile have stayed? I enjoyed the calling, and feel I was good at it, but decided I wanted a change. And this is fairly typical of me. And generally speaking, a desire for change doesn’t bode well for commitment.

I’ve been Sunday School President for about 18 months now, and I think I’m starting to get some wanderlust. Again, I like teaching and I think I’m good at it, but I think sometimes that after 18 months I’m getting diminishing returns. It’s not that my lessons are perfect, but I’m not sure if I’m improving. And from a self-centered view, after I’ve learned all I’m going to learn, I should move on. From a service view I should stick around because I’ve finally been trained. The bigger question is what would I do next? If I had my eye on another calling that would be one thing, but really I’m just starting to question the value of this one, without an actual goal elsewhere.

Again, this really isn’t commitmentphilic activity. You’re not supposed to be in a calling forever so it’s not the same thing as a relationship, but I’m extrapolating. It’s probably not good that I tire of things that I like. It’s probably even worse that I’m tiring of something I like, without another option luring me away. My only consolation would be that I think I’m pretty awesome at all callings, so extrapolating back, should be awesome in any relationship.

As with nearly all introspective posts, I have no real conclusion. It’s interesting to analyze my television watching and lesson teaching, but this doesn’t really tell me much about my commitment capacity. Because I like girls much more than teaching, and slightly more than television, so I’m kind of comparing applecrisp and oranges.

No comments: