The REAL Reason You Fear Commitment

vain woman

I’ve heard many reasons of why people are afraid of commitment and, to be honest, I’ve given even more.


But a commitment-phobia isn’t just founded on the fear of being hurt by someone or even the fear of hurting someone–it is founded on the fear of self reflection.


You see, the more you commit to someone, the more you open up to them, the less your walls are put up, and hence, the more “you” you become around them.  


And all this amount to one scary fact: This means coming face to face with the person you’ve been trying to avoid.


The person who, when you saw them strutting over during an argument, you leave.

The person who, when you saw them steaming onto the court during basketball, you take a water break.

The person who, when you saw them gossiping about a friend during a text conversation, you put down your phone.


That person is the real, honest, genuine you.


Not the “you” you wish you were or think you can become or hope others perceive you as…but you just as you are.


Not that you aren’t great, but there are part of us we all want to…hide. The selfishness, the anger, the pride–the natural man.


But in a marriage there is nowhere to leave, take a break or put things down.


In our proverbial house of “self,” there is an orderly and tidy living room, a robust and glitzy entertainment room and (for me) a decedent and plethoric dining room (I like to imagine it being a Golden Corral on Friday night–seafood night (and yes, I DID google “plethora adjective” just fyi)). But with butterflying from person to person to never get too close, only happy posts on social media to never get too deep and mumbled whispers of anger to never seem too honest–it can be pretty easy to avoid the biggest room in our house: the room for improvement.


But not in marriage.


It has been said that marriage is the great magnifier.


There are no locked bedroom doors, no high junk drawers, and no selective household tours.


There is no vain mirror to cry fables of you being the fairest, for when you enter true commitment, you become introduced to the raw you, completely naked in honesty.


But it’s supposed to be this way.


“If men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness” (Ether 12:27).


You cannot go back to God unless you are totally clean. Not mostly, or just about, or all the way except for that one thing that you don’t even admit to yourself–totally clean.


The only way you can get clean is to see what is dirty.


As you make the commitments to bring yourself close to God, you come closer to the Light of Christ which will illuminate every crevasse of your soul to enable you to see what it is that needs to be cleaned.


So fear not your greatest fear–for if you keep moving forward, keep cleaning and keep growing into commitment (to your friends, your family and your God), you eventually will have the light of Christ shine in your countenance and you will see Him as He is, for you will be like him (Moroni 7:48).



What I Thought I Would Feel on My Wedding Day but Didn’t


scary dating

So…I’m married.


The scene that was the wedding day seemed to play out in a directed concoction of met and exceeded expectations.


The drive to the temple excitement, reception stress, hair problems, sheer happiness, craziness of actually getting married, tears of joy, laughter of a final dance, a humorously awkward drive to the hotel—they all appeared right on queue center stage during a perfect wedding day.


But there was one actor that did not play a part.


Not only was I surprised—but shocked.


I had him cast as a lead.


The villain’s name?






It was an omission, which left a (former) singular audience of one giving a standing ovation.


But I was not alone in my pleasantly unmet expectation.


Who else was flabbergasted?


Oh, let’s say just about everyone who knows me.


See, the week after I got engaged my father called me for a chat.

“Son, you are going to have doubts and be afraid sometime between now and the wedding. You may want to run Just get through it. It will pass. You found yourself someone really special and everything will be okay.”


So I hunkered down in my seat and waited, with a fixed determination to outwit the frightened scoundrel.


And waited…


…and waited.


I knew it would come eventually. After all, my entire life I was accused of being someone who had a fear of commitment.


The inevitability of the fear from jumping into the biggest eternal commitment of my entire life (and eternity), was getting closer and closer.


It is simply a matter of time, I doubtlessly thought.


…but it never did.


It was as if I showed up to the battlefield ready for war and was met by a middle school theater class fieldtrip who offered to share their lunches with me.


Even moments before the ceremony, my trepidation for a surprise entrance was evident.


On the drive to the temple with Annie, I turned to her and asked, ‘How do you feel?’


‘Me too…? Aren’t we supposed to feel—scared or something?’

‘Not when it’s right, I guess.’


Ah, and there it is.


Turns out, I wasn’t afraid of committing, but just committing to the wrong person.


A wedding day is the intermission of the eternal play that is our existence. It gives us a moment to just be completely present in between everything that has taken place from our pre-earth life, birth and life and everything that will take place from our death to forever after.


This is not to say that I wasn’t afraid of commitment at other times in my life or that cold feet is a foreboding omen, for everyone goes through their own wedding scene, but rather that sometimes,
“it” can be easy.


Yes, while I expect staying in love will be work, falling in love was easy. Some might even call it play.


So don’t fear if you feel fear—it might not be you, it might just be that you haven’t found them. (And a simple way to tell if it is you…pray to fall in love and see if you mean it.)


Pepto-Bismol Your Relationship

vomit love

I was about 12-years old when one night, I woke up sick.


Super sick.


Like the feeling you get when there are evil elves gnawing at your innards and trying to axe their way out sick…I’m sure you know what I mean.


To my fragile mind, I was certain this was going to be the end of me.


I crawled into my parents’ room with my last confession and so say my final goodbyes. My father rolled out of bed and brought me to the toilet where he handed me a capful of Pepto-Bismol.


I refused to take it.


I told him I was too sick.


“Zack,” he said with the tired sigh of a patient parent needing to go to work in a few hours, “just take it. Look, it will either make you throw up and you’ll feel better, or it will make you feel better and then, well, you’ll feel better.”


Even at death’s doorstep, the logic was sound.


I partook of the bubblegum elixir and slowly, calmly drifted back to sleep on the cool tile floor. Much to everyone’s surprise, I’m sure, I awoke the next day feeling just fine.


This is just like a relationship.

Should you take them to a family dinner?

Should you invite them to the class reunion?

Should you take that next big leap?


I say yeah!


Look, it is either going to work out or not. If you are to the point that you are thinking about taking that dried-up riverbed stroll, then take that next step.


The best Pepto-Bismol for a relationship?

A road trip.


There have been more breakups and relationship jumping off points from road trips than from any other event I can think of. Just pick a place and go there. You may need to turn around half-way, but then again, you may need to take more time off of work.


Because if it isn’t going to work out, you’ll find out quickly.


If it will, you’ll feel better knowing sooner.


Plug your nose, close your eyes and bottoms up baby! It’s going to be a fun ride.

What is to Become of Bowl of Oates? I Need Your Help.

Zack Oates and Annie Oates


It was the day after I got engaged.


Annie (the woman who actually accepted the proposal…still weird to think about) and I were driving down the road when we pulled up next to a couple at a stoplight with “JUST MARRIED” painted on the back of the car, gently smudged by rain.


I rolled down my window.


“Hey! Congrats on getting married!”

“Uhhh, thanks man…” came the new husband’s uncertain reply. Obviously some weirdo yelling at him across the road with his newly minted family probably alerted some primal protective barrier of hesitancy.

“We just got engaged!” I held up Annie’s hand to calm his nerves as a token of proof.

The husband looked over at his wife to see if she was finding the encounter as awkward as he was.

She wasn’t.

“WHOOHOOO!! Congrats!” she screamed.

The light turned green.

“Wait,” I yelled, “What advice do you have for us?”

Without a second’s delay as her husband was pushing the gas pedal her scream faded into the intersection, “DON’T REGISTER AT BED BATH and beyond…”


And such it was, I received the first piece of real marriage lesson that fell on the ears of a willing student.


I have received a lot of marriage advice before, but didn’t really ever think it might one day be applicable to me.


That has started a great journey of asking almost everyone I come in contact with, single or married, for marriage advice. It has been an outpouring of laughter, some tears and lots and LOTS of wisdom.


Some of you have asked me about what will become of this blog. “Will it turn into a dumb marriage blog?”


Well, the answer is…no. I hope.


It will stay a dating blog and continue to have inspirational-themed posts, but will add an entirely new section.


See, I have written about dating because I have dated a lot and just because I’m getting married doesn’t mean that I’m going to forget all that.


But, as it turns out, I haven’t even been married…even for a single day.

However, I want to be married until my last (and beyond).


So hence the start of an entirely new category on this blog, “Relationship and Marriage Advice.”


It isn’t just about marriage, but relationships in general.


And this is NOT relationship and marriage advice from me, per se, but from you. After all, what do I know? My 1,000 dates can’t help me now.


So yeah…I’m going to start featuring your relationship and marriage advice that you send me on Facebook, Twitter, text, pigeon carrier, or in the comments below. 


I would love for this to be a continuous theme–because I have so much to learn. And now that I’ve found someone eternally special, I don’t want to muff it up.


Annie and I have just barely begun this road trip called marriage. We have a long road ahead and I, for one, would like to know what more people think at the red lights of life.


What advice do you have about what makes a happy relationship/marriage?

What is the best advice you’ve heard?

What do you wish the world knew about marriages?


You’ll be the teacher, and I’ll be a good student.


After all, we are registered at Amazon. (and no, that isn’t a shameless plug to get us a wedding gift–unless you’re going to get us the cow rug throw, then…guilty!)