Why Commitment Scares Me (Confessions of an Intimidated Black Man Pt. 4)


This is part four of Jamall Calloway’s debut on Urban Cusp in which he penned an open love letter confessing doubts and insecurities brought about by a woman who intimidates him. In Part 2, he asked himself the question others have asked: “why won’t I just ‘man up’?”. In Part 3, he penned an open letter that showed his evolution and that he had finally “found some heart.” In this final part, he speaks candidly about why he’s intimidated by commitment. Read the entire series here.

Things have been going great, right? I’m enjoying you. You’re enjoying me. Everything is fine. It’s magical when we spend time together and it’s engaging when we’re on the phone. I like the way things are, you know? It’s only been a few months since we started “hanging out” and it really seems like nothing can wrong. Sure, we have our differences here and there. You get a little annoyed when you call me and I send ignore texts or when I cancel on you at the last minute. I understand. But those are innocuous issues, in my opinion.

And besides those little things I want to say that I appreciate you for all the effort and time you put into this thing we have going on. Even though it’s not easy making that time because we both have classes, work and other obligations, I want to say I appreciate everything. Honestly, I would’ve told you that sooner, but I needed time to think about the issues you’ve been raising about my effort. Every once in awhile you tacitly ask about our future and where I see us going. Most of the time, I admit, I’m rather evasive. But you maneuver through my evasiveness and find ways to question us becoming “official” instead of just “hanging out.” Well, my dear, I will finally answer you. So allow me to tell you my truth. Allow me to tell why I’m intimidated by the thought of us becoming committed.

In all honestly, it’s not you. It’s me. And I hate to bring up that old saying but it’s true because I’m the one with the baggage and the issues. I’ve invested myself in a committed relationship before and things didn’t pan out so well for me. Plus after observing the misery of my friends who have loved and lost, I do what I can to elude experiencing anything remotely similar to that emotional distress again.

I know you understand. You’ve had your heart broken before, right? I’m sure your past contains a story where you danced with the idea of spending the rest of your youth with someone. But you did only to find yourself drowning in despondence after discovering that you were the only one dancing to such a melody. So please understand. It’s not you. It’s my fear of investing in what I conceive of as inevitable heartbreak. It’s my fear of dancing to that same old tune.

​Now, the second reason I’m intimidated by commitment is a little shallow. It’s hard to admit but I will anyway. You see, I have not committed to you and you alone, because I enjoy sustaining my other romantic options. Instead of being shackled down by commitment like I did in the past, I’ve grown accustomed to and actually delight in having countless pretty faces hanging on the periphery of my intimate life. I may not contact them daily, I may not bring them home to meet my family, but in those capricious moments where I’m suffering from boredom or am in need of some instant validation, I can contact any one of them for my casual needs. And I like it this way – at least for now.

The final reason why I’m intimidated by commitment and haven’t requested for us to become exclusive is because I am scared of committing to the wrong one. My friend, I have not made up in my mind yet if you’re the one for me. That one person who builds a barricade in your brain and takes possession of every thought you had. The one who holds them selfishly in their hands without a hint of remorse. When you fall so deeply in love that you vaguely remember your own existence prior to meeting them, then you know, unequivocally, that you have met someone special. That one, that special someone, is enough to make you forget about the past hurts and is enough to make you disentangle yourself from the messy web of insignificant options. And darling, as special as you are, I am not fully convinced or sure that you are that one for me.

So I keep you close enough to consider but far enough for removal if that special one was to ever appear. And no, I’m not an intentional womanizer, I just so happen to personify the mythical black man ill with what G. Ann Wilkerson calls, “the precious commodity syndrome.” I’ve been hurt before, so I’m hesitant. I have too many options, so I’m reluctant. And I haven’t decided if you’re the one for which I should get over these issues and commit. I guess you can say, I’m just an intimidated black man…


Jamall Andrew Calloway is from Oakland, CA. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Tougaloo College, Jackson, MS. He is currently a Masters of Divinity Candidate at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, CT and an associate minister at Mt. Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport, CT. You can follow him on Twitter @JACalloway1940 and his blog heartofandrew.