Does the fear of “being alone” keep you in an unfulfilling relationship?

Or perhaps you are currently alone and think there is something wrong with you?

Perhaps you think you don’t deserve better, are too old, too fat, too unattractive, or defective somehow and this leads you to believe that no one would want you.

Sometimes you can stay stuck, suffering for years.

Keeping yourself in an unfulfilling or unhealthy situation because you are afraid of being alone can lead to emotional, physical and mental health problems including low self-esteem, anxiety, sadness, loneliness and depression.

These problems can be so painful and overwhelming that it becomes difficult to enjoy life at all.

In my practice ‘What if Im alone forever’ is a fairly common what if question. I get it.

As humans (same goes for animals) we are not meant to be alone. We are biologically meant to find a partner (hopefully the right partner) and reproduce.

A 2014 survey of 2,000 people conducted jointly by TODAY and AOL, reports that one in three adults admitted that they fear being alone. Forty percent of women surveyed said they fear “being alone” (compared to 35 percent of men)

In my own experience, I spent more years than I care to remember struggling with the fear of being alone. My fear kept me bouncing from one unfulfilling relationship (and situation) to another. I was more concerned about being in a relationship so I could feel ‘worth it’ than I was about the quality of the relationship that would lead to yet another unfulfilling, sad and lonely experience. I thought perhaps I was ‘not worth’ a fulfilling relationship or a fulfilling life.

You can see that you are in good company when it comes to your fear of being alone.

But… when you let fear get out of hand it puts you in survival mode ‘flight or flight’ and in this state, you lose the ability to see beyond your immediate ‘threat’ (be alone) to the more objective longer-term process of achieving what you want. You become STUCK in a very painful place.

Stuck because you are focused on Lack = what’s missing, what’s not working, what I don’t have and what I don’t want.

The more you focus on what’s lacking in your life, the more fear, emotional, physical and mental distress you experience and the less able you are to enjoy other aspects of your life.

You may be afraid to take the steps necessary to achieve what you want because you think you might get it wrong somehow and will end up alone forever.

Your brain is convincing you that it is somehow better to experience all of this pain than it is to be alone.

  • It is better to stay in the unhappy situation you are in because at least you have someone and that’s better than being alone. Right?
  • Maybe it’s telling you to quickly find someone else so you don’t have to feel the fear anymore. That sounds like a better plan right?
  • You’ve made the decision to leave an unfulfilling situation and you are now living in your fear. Do you think there is something terribly wrong with you?
  • Is it telling you that you are not enough on your own and that being in a relationship will make your life better… complete you?

Your brain is wrong. Jumping into a relationship because you are trying to avoid or escape the fear of being alone will not make your life better. In fact it does more harm than good because the tendency is to focus on getting into a relationship rather than focusing on the quality of the relationship.

Here are some of the tried and true things that have worked for me (and some continue to work), that also work for my clients:

  • Allow yourself alone time (even though you are afraid to do so!) so you can learn to develop a healthy relationship with yourself.
  • Develop a stronger sense of self-worth so you can believe you’re are enough on your own. (Get help with this one!)
  • If you are alone and afraid of the thoughts, feelings and emotions you are experiencing, it is very important that you get help navigating this so you can develop healthier ways to see yourself and your world.
  • Take the time to discover who you are now at this point in your life and how you define happiness.
  • Rather than collecting all the evidence for what’s missing in your life, look for examples of what you do have that fills and supports you = gratitude.
  • Get excited about the type of person you want to meet, and the kind of people you want to hang out with that support you to grow and be your best self.

In closing… not one of my clients has ever said to me that being alone is as bad as they thought it would be. Their fear of being alone is worse than actually being alone.

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