Are You Afraid of Falling in Love?

You may have been single for a long time.

I can very much empathize with you.

As much as I talk about my marriage these days, you mustn’t forget that for ten years, I was a serial dater, a single and frustrated struggling writer who went out with hundreds of women in notoriously weird and shallow Los Angeles.

And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit at certain points I wondered whether there was anybody right for me out there. I’d wasn’t sure monogamy was for me, or if I could handle all the compromises necessary to be part of a couple.

Then I became a dating coach.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit at certain points I wondered whether there was anybody right for me out there.

I listened to men. I listened to women. I saw the commonalities.

I started applying what I learned to my own life.

And I ultimately got married based on a lot of experience, an educated guess, and a leap of faith that I was investing in a woman of character and kindness.

What a decision I made!

After three years of marriage, I’ve come to the revolutionary conclusion that in a good marriage, you don’t give up any freedom at all.

You gain it.

When I was single, I was free to go out on Friday night to parties or bars on the Sunset Strip. I was free to approach unapproachable models over thumping bass music and offer to buy them drinks. I was free to take out random women on JDate for dinner, only to find out that there was no connection.

So what kind of freedom did I give up when I got married?

Only this: I gave up the right to sleep with strangers.

Everything else is a net positive.

I’m free to act like myself around my wife.

I’m free to be moody and brusque when I feel like it.

I’m free to retreat to my office to read the Huffington Post or ESPN.com or look at pictures of Kim Kardashian on celebrity websites.

I’m free to practice guitar poorly and to complain about my tight hamstrings.

I’m free to watch football with my friends or go to Vegas for a bachelor party.

I’m free to be a giver – to find new ways to make my wife happy, to buy her things she wouldn’t think of requesting.

As a result, NOBODY is freer than I am.

I have a partner in crime who loves me for me, doesn’t expect me to change, and treats me like I’m her hero.

It’s not that my wife thinks I’m perfect; it’s that she’s wise enough to spend most of her time reminding me why she loves me, instead of “fixing” what she doesn’t.

In exchange, she gets the full force of my love and devotion.

This is what happens when you choose to marry the right person.

So if you’re reading this and thinking that this can’t happen to you – that any man that you’ve ever been with was verbally abusive, asked you to lose weight, criticized your intellect, and refused to treat you properly, all I have to say to you is:

STOP choosing the wrong men!!!!

If you want to be at peace, to feel the liberating feeling of being loved and accepted for who you are, in full, try making THAT your FIRST criteria for a partner:

“Loves me unconditionally and accepts me in full”.

Despite the inherent compromises of marriage (we now have a pink baby room, for example), I can assure you that there’s not one moment I have to pretend to be anything other than myself.

This is joy. This is freedom. And it’s within reach.

All you have to do is compromise on a few non-essential things.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Mia

    Yet another insightful post! I’m very independent but still want a relationship because it does not have to curtail your  freedom in a bad way. I certainly never tell a guy what to do, who he can hang out with, etc, but it seems like men are always complaining about not  wanting to give up their freedom, then turning around and passing up drama free girls in favor of controlling nags who played the hard to get card better. So I’m a bit wary of men who view relationships as being held down by a ball and chain — they must be going for the wrong girls, because a good relationship can give you far more peace than singledom.

  2. 2
    Two of Us Dating

    Wow!!  I really enjoyed reading this.  When I got to the part of how you gained freedom by getting married I was at first perplexed.  But then as I read on and related it to my own relationship I began to realize how true this really is.  Conceptually, I guess I always felt that marriage meant a certain loss of freedom, in the sense that you have to take someone else into account when doing things or making decisions.  But as I read on I began to see the wisdom in your words.  I am on my second marriage, and I reflected on the differences in the two your words began to make more and more sense.  My first wife constantly focused on “fixing” me while my second wife accepts me for exactly who I am.  I now see the “freedom” this creates and appreciate how your words gave me a more accurate perspective.  Thank you!!!

  3. 3
    Helen

    Evan, while I’m truly happy that you have such a great marriage, I think the amount and the types of freedom one gives up in marriage differ markedly from person to person.  It isn’t always the case that the only thing you give up is the freedom to sleep around (which I never valued, anyway).
     
    Being married has, for me, meant giving up the freedom of picking up and moving where I want to based on job opportunities. Not that it is an impossibility, but it’s no longer just one person making the decision, and thus far (despite offers elsewhere), it has never happened. Being married has meant cutting back on much of the global travel I once did and would otherwise still do, for the sake of being at home. Being married means giving up the freedom from troublesome in-laws. :) (But it also means the chance to spend time with other great in-laws.)  Being married means sacrificing time, health, sleep, and peace of mind for the kids (I wouldn’t have kids if I weren’t married, although this is a more indirect effect of marriage).
     
    To me, the benefits of marriage far outweigh the losses of freedom – the constant company of a wonderful human being, best friend, and lover; the sheer fun of building our lives together – so overall I am happy and content. But I cannot say, as you did, that I only gave up one trivial freedom when I got married. I gave up things that did matter to me.

  4. 4
    Joe

    Evan, you’ve also given up the freedom from being responsible for the well-being of 2-plus other human beings.

  5. 5
    Fusee

    Thanks, Evan! Encouraging post!
    Although I’m not married (so what do I know about marriage, right?), being in the process of building a relationship after over 3 years of happy singledom, I tend to think like Helen #3: marriage (or a committed long-term relationship) involves giving up some level of personal freedom for the greater benefit of life partnership, and you enter into the union because the benefits outweight the losses for each partner.
    Like Helen, and even not yet married, the freedoms I’m giving up as well as the efforts I’m making for the relationship are not trivial. Do not get me wrong, there are not painful, but they are not insignificant either. Why is it so? Because while a solid, balanced, and happy marriage is my preference over singledom, a balance and happy singledom is a very close second. I was a very content single woman that had to give up more than “sex with strangers” in order to build this relationship. Actually, this one “freedom” Evan is talking about was the one I did not have to give up since I’m not having sex with strangers anyway.
    The benefits still outweight the losses of personal freedom, so I’m not complaining, and I was not afraid to choose love and now ponder on whether or not I can completely accept this one particular human being. I just want to point out that depending on the quality of the singledom you are leaving behind, you may have to make more sacrifices than giving up “sex with strangers”. And it’s okay.

  6. 6
    Maya

    Evan loved your post. What I love and hope to find is that my man (the one I have to meet yet) can find freedom within me :)… That works both ways tho. :D
    Again thanks for your great work!

  7. 7
    Trajan

    Evan,

    All the freedoms you just described are stuff every single guy does on a Friday night.

    Basically, you’re saying to pick a wife who lets you act like a dude and is fine with it? As long as you tell her you love her though, it’s alrighty I guess.

  8. 8
    Erika

    Thanks for sharing Evan, I hope to bring to my relationships what you share of how your wife is. She sounds amazing!! But it also takes a great man to also see a great woman when he has one, so kudos to the both of you! I am so thankful for your insights and your blog. Most of all thanks for apart from services of your dating program, you offer this advice for free, some of us don’t have the means to pay for this stuff but you take the time to offer what you can to all of us. You’re much appreciated. Thanks!

  9. 9
    Ruby

    I’m pretty independent, don’t live with my boyfriend, and am probably in the “honeymoon phase”, but everything I’ve gained since being with him is positive. “Sex with strangers’? I couldn’t care less. I’ve had sex with other men in short-lived relationships, and it wasn’t all that great. Is this a guy thing? Or maybe a married thing?

  10. 10
    Mark

    Awesome!! Well said!!

    The “right” partner will allow you to grow and to be yourself.
    Because when each person is allowed to grow and be themselves BOTH people benefit.

    The “right” partner will ADD to your life.
    To start out a relationship by trying to change someone is starting out on the wrong foot.

    I agree the “right” relationship gives you MORE freedom, yes it’s
    counter-intuitive but true.

    Actually it’s a negative mind set to go into a relationship and say to yourself “well, there goes my freedom”

  11. 11
    Christina

    Some people seem responsibility for others as a bad thing. But isn’t that what society is all about? We tend to prize individualism, but the reality is that things the world is a better place when we take others’ needs into account. Very few of us are an island with NO ONE we care about, whether it’s family or close friends. 

    Being in a good relationship isn’t some kind of trap. No one should put up with someone who wants to control them or turn them into someone else. If you’re with someone who does that, look elsewhere. 

     There’s a lot of freedom in a good relationship, and having to take someone else’s needs into account when making a decision is kind of a normal thing for most humans. With people marrying later, we’ve become accustomed to a state that really isn’t “normal” in human history- the carefree single with no responsibilities to anyone. 

    There’s nothing better than being with someone who is behind you all the way when facing life’s challenges and who encourages you to grow and follow your dreams. In a lot of ways, your relationship is a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you think it spells the end to your freedom and happiness, you’ll probably make it so.

  12. 12
    Kathleen

    Another great post Evan. Ive always had a great sense of needing my freedom . When I married I never felt like I had made a sacrifice because he wasn’t controlling and we didn’t have kids. Now being single for 5 years I struggle between wanting my freedom to date different men but the down side is the times of loneliness  Good timing of post!

  13. 13
    Teresa

    Loves me and accepts me as I am.  that’s always been my criteria. Unfortunately I live in notoriously weird and shallow Los Angeles with the added defect of being 55 years old.

  14. 14
    Cat5

    “Loves me unconditionally and accepts me in full”.
    I believe this type of statement is the biggest myth that has ever been told about love.  No one loves anyone “unconditionally”.  Everybody has a condition, i.e., a deal breaker where he/she would walk away from you.  What that condition/deal breaker is — is different for everyone.
    The key is to find out what the other person’s condition/breaker is, an whether you can live with it.

  15. 15
    Rachael

    Great post!

    First, let me say I love love love your blog! I could have used it 2 years ago…Although finding my own way after my divorce, and learning all these things on my own has been very valuable to me. I’m glad i’ve come accross your site, and have your male perspective to solidify what i’ve learned and observed.  

    I would say “I wish my ex-husband could have thought like you” etc., but I don’t. He did me a favour in the end. He felt the loss of his “freedom” very deeply. This is something neither he, nor I, forsaw. He strayed, and cheated VERY quickly after we got married (within 2 months) and I found out within weeks. We tried to make it work for 2 more years to no avail. The trust was gone, and I could no longer just let him live like before. It turned me into a sad, suspicious, bitter, and jealous woman for some time.

    The truth is he still had just as much freedom as he had before the wedding. We did live together for 5 years, but that percieved loss was enough to mess with his head.  I am grateful he did me the favour of showing his weakness so early, and before we had children. I am also grateful that no matter how adamant I was that there must be something wrong with me, he was more adamant that there was not.

    I’m not sure where i’m going with this, but I can certainly relate to how freedom, and its loss (real or percieved) is hugely important to a successful relationship. 

    And thank you for all your valuable advice!

  16. 16
    helene

    Evan, I ‘m totally with you on this one. As someone who was in 2 consecutive marriages for about 21 years, I NEVER felt a lack of freedom when I was married….in fact when people used to remark that you “lose your freedom” when you get married, I felt totally mystified. Freedom to do what??! What are all these things you can do when you’re single that you can’t do when you’re married? I sure as hell can’t think of anything. Swapping poor quality random sex with strangers for sex with someone who knows my body and cares about my pleasure… oh, what a terrible loss! Personally,  feel less “free” now I’m single. I HAVE to work. I HAVE to pay the bills all on my own, every single month. If I’m ill, I don’t have the freedom to lounge in bed – I have to get up, go out, buy food, make my own hot drinks… because there’s no one to do it for me. I have to drive myself everywhere – I don’t have the freedom to say – “you know what, I don’t feel like driving today – you drive.” Same with cooking/home repairs/ budgeting/taking out the trash… I don’t have the freedom to opt out of tasks I don’t like which my partner is happy to undertake. I don’t have the freedom to say “I don’t really know which movie I want to see or which restaurant to go to – you choose. Surprise me” . I don’t have the freedom to get home tired from work and opt to stay in, but STILL have company and cuddles and conversation. If I want those things, I HAVE to go out – they don’t come to me.And when I do go out, I have less freedom to just be myself than if I’m with a partner – if I’m socialising with people I don’t know well, I have to be upbeat, well dressed, attentive,  and offer interesting conversation. Those people don’t want to hear what’s REALLY on my mind – why would they? I can’t even go on vacation to where I want – I was once refused a holiday deal to a destination i really wanted to visit because it was “based on two sharing” and there was no provision for a single person to join the trip. Sure, there are ways around some of these things, and friends and family help, but there is no comparison. I definately had an easier, more enjoyable, fuller life with more freedom from stress and freedom to be myself when I was married – no doubt in my mind on that one!

  17. 17
    Helen

    Ruby 9, I think helene, Fusee, and I all answered your question. Though there are exceptions, by and large women don’t consider it a loss to give up the “freedom” of having sex with strangers. It’s not a “marriage” thing. It may be a “guy” thing.

    helene 16: I like how you are always so real in your posts. I hope you will find someone who will provide you with the freedoms you feel you are missing now. 

  18. 18
    CAS

    Helen16, I just want to +1 as vehemently as possible. After a great 25-year relationship, doing everything, and doing it alone, was a shock. I can’t take the great trips I used to, or even feel safe hiking in the woods or snowshoeing or snorkeling… not safe alone. Now the trick is not feeling so desperate for company that I pick the wrong man, or scare off the right one.

  19. 19
    helene

    @Helen 17 – thanks! One of the things I like about this blog is being able to talk about this stuff in an open way with others who have experienced the same things – being “real” can be hard for people to handle in real life, but here no one has to listen if they don’t want to!

  20. 20
    Mark

    Something else worth noting, coming from A Guys’s perspective.

    If I’m in a relationship and I feel like I’m losing freedom than that’s a big red flag that I shouldn’t be in that relationship.

    Because every relationship  I’ve had that I was really excited about the thought of “loss of freedom”  NEVER crossed my mind.

    I was always excited and looked forward to being with that person.

  21. 21
    Rachael

    @mark In my own experience my ex felt his “loss of freedom” because we were together for a very long time before we got married. We met young and he had only seriously dated one other person. I can’t claim to know what he was thinking but I knew him well and he wasn’t a bad person. I choose to believe that when he met someone new and exciting it just wasn’t in him to resist. 

    We shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. Clearly…But shit happens. People make mistakes. People see things and feel them differently.

  22. 22
    Ruby

    Helen #17
     
    I think it may also be a “maturity” issue. If you’re young and haven’t dated that much, you may feel the loss of freedom more acutely. I’m older and have had plenty of time to be single, as well as having my fill of go-nowhere dates and relationships. It’s very clear to me that it would be very hard for me to find something better than what I’ve got, because I probably would have found it by now!

  23. 23
    Two Of Us Dating Service

    Men always complain that being married is like a ball and chain. Evan brings up a great point. When you have someone you are in love with you don’t always have to be on your best behavior. You are allowed to have a bad day, be grumpy, or retreat to your office for some alone time. With a new person you have to always bring out the sunshine and rainbows which isn’t always easy. With the right person you can be yourself and be absolutely free!

  24. 24
    starthrower68

    I can attest to what Evan says.  That unconditional love and acceptance (and yes we all are smart enough to know that each person has something that will cause them to leave a relationship) is very liberating.  Real freedom comes from being truly known and loved anyway.  It truly has changed my life in ways that have actually been healing.  It was tough to admit it, but I took a lot of Evan’s advice to heart and finally found a winner.

  25. 25
    Mickey

    Sorry, but I can’t get on board with any of this. In this day and age, there are a lot of women who are convinced that men are just no good and bring absolutely nothing to the table in a relationship. Frankly, I’ll be damned if I give up the freedom to live my life as I see fit to get into a relatioship with a man-hating feminazi who’s convinced that I can’t do anything right just because I’m a guy. So, I walk alone.

  26. 26
    chaitea43

    I like this and I think it’s great. But why can’t I accept him for who *he* is? I want to. He does for me! So why can’t I stop thinking of the things I don’t like about him? I’m full of anxiety and negativity. If I could just stop those two, I think I’d be able to appreciate him more and be together with him.

  27. 27
    Sparkling Emerald

    Having been married twice (and dumped by both hubbies), yes I am afraid to marry again, but I would like to be in an LTR (non-cohabitating, non marital, monogamous & committed).  In my younger days, the ultimate goal was marriage, now the goal posts have been moved, but I’m not sure where.  I just wonder if that type of relationship is possible.  It seems guys are either the marrying kind, or the player kind, I wonder if there is an in between.

  28. 28
    kk

    freedom is very ideologic
    i can do anything, but i feel like in a prison waiting for a lover to set me free
    sad
    dont know why is that
    maybe i just like love
    but nobody dares to love me
    it is something that u have to conquer, its pathetic
    no one dares to love me… like, i dont get it..
    i cant act negativaly that goog stuff wont happen and i wont be cared about… ii think the right men will be the one that likes me so much that will say “hey, crazy girl, why r u so nervous. calm down, i really like u.. pleaseee, lets go out… i know ur complikated, but im with u,o its all fine, i like u
    no one dares to love me

  29. 29
    kk

    no one is tuff e nough for my persoonality so far

  30. 30
    Sparkling Emerald

    This post reminds me of these lyrics from Desparado -
     
    “And freedom, oh freedom well, that’s just some people talkin’
    Your prison is walking through this world all alone”

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