Is it better to be in an unhappy or unfulfilling relationship or not in a relationship at all? That depends upon who you ask. As a happy yet never-married woman of 50 who counsels singles and couples, I have firsthand experience with both sides of this dilemma.
The fear of being alone reflects many negative thought patterns. Do any of them ring true for you?
- Is there something wrong with me… am I unlovable?
- Will I grow old alone?
- Is this relationship the best I can attract?
- I hate being a “third wheel” among my married friends.
- Maybe there’s no one out there for me.
- I’d better hang on to this one—my biological clock is ticking.
- I can’t be happy if I’m single.
Too often, people equate being single with failure. One of my neighbors, a thrice-divorced man about my age, has actually asked me why I never married and went as far as saying there must be something wrong with me. Really? Someone who has said “I do” three times and he thinks there must be something wrong with me? That just makes me chuckle.
Scott is a poster-child for someone afraid of being alone. Sadly, in the years I’ve known him, he’s bounced from relationship to relationship with an obvious desperation that drives very unhealthy decisions. Rarely does he share happy stories involving the current woman du jour. It is apparent his fear of being alone is fed by his belief that he won’t be happy unless he’s in a relationship.
For my clients sharing Scott’s belief system, we’ve worked together to shift their thought processes by having them:
Focus on building non-romantic social connections
By nature, humans are social animals and survive and thrive with the interaction and support of others. When not involved in a romantic relationship, we have even more time to enjoy our friends and family.
Find satisfaction and even joy in “alone time”
I met one of my favorite clients, Ken, while he was going through his divorce. In his late 40s, Ken had never lived alone as an adult and was struggling with the thought of being alone at night for the first time. After working through his fears and negative thoughts, I’m proud to report that Ken, six months later, actually looks forward to being alone and having his new apartment all to himself.
Identify their own interests and favorite activities
We are all creatures of habit. When we want to implement change in our lives, we must change our habits. Developing friendships within and around one’s favorite activities ensures options for company when we want it. I have golf buddies, ski buddies, cycling buddies, foodie buddies, theater buddies… you get the point.
The fear of being alone can lead people to settle for less-than-ideal romantic partners and less-than-happy relationships… and therefore, less-than-blissful lives. Settling for “less-than” reveals a sad irony: that those who equate happiness with being in a romantic relationship may, due to the fear of being alone, reduce their chances of finding happiness overall.
Do you enjoy your “alone time”? I love mine! That’s certainly not to say I don’t enjoy getting out and seeing friends, of course. For me it’s all about striking a healthy balance between my inner introvert and inner extrovert. What are your thoughts? Forward them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org… I’d love to hear from you!
Originally published as a guest contributor at www.personaldevelopmentcafe.com.
Photo by db Photography | Demi-Brooke