Let’s face it, there is something about the fall and winter seasons that fills single people with both cheer and dread. We thrill at the idea of all the mistletoe and holly yet dread the thought of fielding questions about our relationship status.
The fear of being alone can make us do crazy things, like continue to date that guy who, deep down, you know won’t be around next Thanksgiving. For many, the idea of going to holiday parties alone seems to be far more worrisome than the idea of dragging a dead-end relationship out way too long. In fact, a recent poll from online dating site Badoo found that 33 percent of singles polled reported feeling extra pressure to find a date or significant other during the holiday season.
Counselor Julia Hogan, LPC, says, “Fear of being alone is a very strong reason for staying in a relationship that isn’t ideal. I see this frequently with my patients. They tell me they know they will be ‘better off’ not being in the relationship but that their fear of being alone is so strong that it overrules those warning signs.”
Obviously, this mindset isn’t usually conscious, so how do you know if you’ve let fear of being single take over your better judgment?
I asked relationship expert Jodee Virgo what some of the warning signs are when a relationship is driven by that fear of loneliness. Here are three signs that you might only be with him because you are afraid of being alone.
01. You keep hoping that he will change.
We are all guilty at times of taking on fixer-upper projects when it comes to our relationships. But whether it’s the guy who won’t commit or your own heart you are hoping to change, holding out for transformation for too long can cause more hurt than help.
Virgo ties this to fighting for a dead-end relationship. “Many believe with enough time their partners will change—for example, become more committed, understanding, or affectionate when they hit a milestone or some external stressor is reduced.” While sometimes this does help, fighting for a dead-end relationship can have a lasting effect on you and your future (more promising) relationships. Better to jump ship and swim clear while you have a chance.
02. Your friends joke that you’re a serial monogamist.
I have a handful of friends whose dating lives are like musical chairs, hopelessly going from boyfriend to boyfriend with no time in between relationships. This can create a problem because it gives you no time to reflect on what could be done differently in your next relationship.
There are several factors that play into why women might want or need to always be in a relationship, but Virgo says, “They all boil down to fear and insecurity.” Not feeling secure physically, emotionally, or financially can lead to falling into some of these relationship tactics. Virgo continues, “They may think that they’re serial monogamists, but they’re more like serial feelings-avoiders.”
Have you taken time to process your last relationship? Now is as good a time as any to think about what you wanted to be different in your last relationship and whether you still want those things now.
03. You have a backup plan.
Have you ever replied “maybe” to a party invitation just so you didn’t have to totally give up your availability should a better option come along? Of course you have.
A very similar thing happens when you are afraid of being single. Virgo says, “Women who are afraid to be alone will often not leave a relationship until they’ve got another one to go to. These new relationships act like bridges and provide an exit out of the current relationship that’s no longer working." Keeping an abundance of guys on standby for when you find yourself single is not fair to you or the guy. In fact, it means you’re just using him as a placeholder to fulfill that space between relationships. If you find that you need a guy to constantly flirt with, text, or talk to, you may just be using him to fill the blank space.
Nobody likes to admit that they may only be in a relationship because they’re afraid of being alone. But being honest with yourself is the best way to set yourself free to lead a truly fulfilling life . . . and maybe even meet someone who is the right fit.
Photo Credit: Joe Curtin