How I Stopped Overcommitting To Underwhelming Men

I admit it—I’m a serial over-committer. Shortly after I meet someone I really like, I can hardly help but to be all in even if I’m getting nothing close to this level of commitment in return. Finally, after relationship after relationship ended, I realized the problem: I was over-committing to men who just weren’t worth it. Here’s how I stopped.

  1. I Took The Pressure Off Myself. I used to always look at dating as the step you take before getting married. While that very broadly holds true, not every relationship needs to have a long-term commitment as the end goal. There are some relationships that you go through to learn more about yourself, what you like, and what to avoid when you move on to the next one—and that’s okay.
  2. I Tried Dating Multiple People At The Same Time. I had never even “talked” to multiple guys at once and when I tried it for the first time, I didn’t like it. Even though I’d been up front with everyone involved and I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong, all it did was stress me out. It did, however, totally change my mindset for when relationships are just starting out. While the breadth of options at our fingertips (here’s lookin’ at you, dating apps) can cause real issues in today’s romance scene, it’s a good reminder that we don’t have to put up with someone who isn’t right.
  3. I Introduced Prospects To My Friends Early On. In the past, having my friends meet someone I was interested in was always a big deal. My friend group means the world to me and I’d take a while to “feel out” whether or not a guy was worth introducing them to. However, I noticed that the guys my friends met off the bat were always the ones that were the best. My friend group not only knows me very well but they also know my type, good and bad. Introducing men to my friends early in the relationship weeded out the weak ones before I got too attached and made me like the good ones even more.
  4. I Started Making The First Move. It took me a long time to learn this about myself, but I fall right into society’s trap of feeling like I owe a guy something if he approaches me first. I don’t want to seem mean for rejecting him and my desire to be polite and non-offensive was a huge weakness for me. By choosing to make the first move more often (which made me very anxious at first), I felt more confident in the times that I’d choose to walk away. If a guy wasn’t interested after I approached, it was easier to shake off and employ the “fine, I won’t waste my time on you anyway” attitude.
  5. I Prioritized My Days Differently. After a long run of being single, I got into a mode of prioritizing certain parts of my day for work, self-care, and my own hobbies. Doing so made me a happier person in general, and when I started dating again, I decided that those things were non-negotiable. Very consciously putting my personal needs first (and sticking to the routine I had developed while single) allowed me to notice right off the bat if a relationship with someone was interfering with my individual priorities. Then I could confront the issue, and if things didn’t change, I knew to back away from it.
  6. I Listened To My Gut Feelings More Often. The beginning of a relationship is the easy part—it’s new, exciting, and the flirtation is still running wild. I noticed that usually, at about the three-month mark (which I’ve begun referring to as the “Three-Month Nasty”), the rose-colored glasses are removed and you begin to truly realize the negatives about the person you’ve begun a relationship with. If you’re about to embark on a long-term relationship with someone, the Three-Month Nasty is when you have multiple fights in a row but end up compromising and becoming stronger. If you’re with someone who won’t last, the three-month mark is where you realize that the red flags or bad gut feelings you had at the beginning of a relationship aren’t worth it. By putting more stock in the gut feelings I had at the first few weeks of a new relationship, I was able to save myself time and pain and keep from over-committing to someone who I knew things wouldn’t work out with.
  7. I Stopped Caring About Optics. When a new relationship starts, each party is still getting to know each other. Things are easily lost in translation in text conversations, and I would often hold back with sarcastic jokes or cheeky remarks until I had a better grasp on how the other person reacted to certain types of humor. There’s also always the period of time where you don’t know how often to talk to each other or when to define the relationship. Instead of worrying when I should text him, or trying to decipher the right thing to say, I stopped caring. I said and did what I wanted without overthinking, and if someone didn’t react well to it, I had to be okay with that. Starting off a relationship being 100 percent, unapologetically myself ensured that, if a relationship did last a long time, the person was interested in the real me and not just the front I put up when the relationship started.
  8. I Trusted Myself. This is easier said than done, as are many parts of relationships. However, if you’ve found yourself over-committed to someone, I am willing to bet that, when you brought it up to them, your partner either trivialized what you were saying, or made lofty promises about showing you that they do care as much as you. Please, learn from my mistakes. Don’t let anyone else make you question what you feel, or make you wonder if you are overreacting. It’s important that both partners show that they love the other, yes, but it’s equally as important that both partners feel as loved as the other. If you feel like you are more committed to a person than they are to you, trust what you’re feeling—even if you can’t explain it.
Emily Boudin is a marketing professional based in New York City. She also is an active advocate for women's issues and shares about her experience with sexual assault and abuse.