Being single can be a great opportunity for growth and self-improvement. It’s a time when you can do whatever you want without having to worry about your significant other trying to stop you. You’re free to date, to travel, to quit your job, and to indulge in sexual experimentation with a host of different people. What’s not to love, right?
Obviously, there’s always that nagging feeling of loneliness that comes with being unattached. In the worst cases, that nagging feeling turns into anxiety, which can then turn into outright fear. The fear of being single can drive people to choose an unsuitable partner or stay in dead-end relationships way past their expiry date.
Why are people afraid of being single?
Here are 11 things about the single life that scare people so much that they try to force themselves into unsatisfying–and even unhealthy–relationships.
#1 Loneliness. One of the biggest reasons people are afraid to be single is the crippling fear of loneliness. People often believe that being single means being lonely. Many people believe that taking on new tasks alone isn’t as much fun as doing them with someone else. However, most people forget that it’s important to enjoy one’s own company before getting into a relationship and regretting it later.
#2 Family pressure. Pressure from family members is another source of anxiety and a preoccupation with getting tied down. It doesn’t feel good to hear family members constantly asking or nagging you about settling down or starting a family. It can seem like your life is incomplete when others continually draw attention to the fact that you should be in a relationship.
Oftentimes, family members just want to see you happy and in love, and don’t realize that they are adding stress to your life by interrogating you about your relationship status. Make it known that you are happy as an individual and simply won’t settle for less than you deserve, so you are willing to wait for the right one to come along. [Read: Why it’s so great to be single in your 20s]
#3 Being societally incomplete. Being single all of a sudden makes you insecure as a person in society. You feel like other people are judging you based on your lack of a partner. When you feel insecure about being single, rather than confident, you will only be focusing on your lack of a partner.
Single people are everywhere, and not all of them are single and miserable. Being a confident, independent person in society is a force to be reckoned with. Chances are, there are plenty of people who secretly envy you for your freedom and autonomy–things they no longer have as a result of being coupled up.
#4 Dying alone. Many people believe that being single means you will die alone without anyone who cares about you. This is another myth that causes anxiety in some people–so much so that they end up staying with the wrong person to avoid this unwanted outcome.
Being single doesn’t automatically mean that you won’t have children, and it also doesn’t mean that you won’t have other people in your life who care about you. When you are single, you have the freedom to make lasting friendships, since all of your time isn’t spent with your significant other. Single doesn’t necessarily mean alone; there’s a huge difference between the two.
#5 Watching everyone else get married or have kids. You suddenly feel incomplete or even feel like you are somehow trailing behind in life, as if the train kept moving and left you at the same spot. You feel like all of your friends in relationships are secretly mocking your single status, when in reality, plenty of them are probably envious of your lifestyle.
If you feel destined to be “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” or the “eternal bachelor,” realize that not everyone who is married with kids is happy with their life. Remember, the term “mid-life crisis” was coined as a result of people who got tied down too early and want to re-live the single years that they missed. [Read: 15 reasons why being single can be a lot of fun]
#6 Not having a date for big events. Some people really want a special someone who can be their “plus one” at weddings, birthdays, and other special events. Instead of feeling insecure, being single is an opportunity to mingle with all kinds of people. You also won’t have to worry about flirting with a cute, single guy or girl without your significant other getting jealous or upset. [Read: 12 perks of being single at the start of the year]
#7 Not having a support system. It might seem like being in a relationship provides a support system, financially, emotionally, physically, and so on. Some people want to have a partner who can help with housework, ease some of the financial burden of paying the bills, and help buy nice things. This dependence on another person for support really does you an injustice by not giving you the opportunity to lean on yourself and become truly independent.
It’s easy to stay stuck in a dead end job when you know there is another person helping to pick up the slack financially. This dependence can cause you to never really push yourself to aim higher, and what happens if that relationship fails? You could be left with an even heavier burden that may be too hard to bear on your own.
#8 Contracting STDs. Not settling down with one person could mean having multiple partners. Some people who are eternal bachelors/bachelorettes fear that their single status could one day lead to an STD, since they are not having sex with a monogamous partner. The solution to this would be to limit the number of casual sex partners you have and always use protection.
#9 Getting trapped in the cycle of casual dating. Contrary to popular belief, being single doesn’t mean that you will end up with a long list of casual dates under your belt. You don’t need to stoop to desperation just because you are single. When you learn to love your life as a single person, you will be much pickier about the types of people you choose to go on dates with. Opt for quality over quantity. [Read: 8 obvious signs of a serial monogamist]
#10 Fear of becoming more self-absorbed. Some single people believe that the longer they stay single, the longer they will be immersed in a bubble of their own world, assuming that you might end up liking your own freedom, space, and interests so much that there is no room for someone else. Chances are, it will be hard to become so self-absorbed that you end up pushing a great potential partner away if the opportunity arises.
#11 Being out of the relationship loop. It is a common assumption that a lack of intimacy over time can lead to detachment and an inability to form a cohesive partnership down the road. Being single doesn’t mean you forget how to be in a relationship or what it takes to make one work. Don’t be afraid to lose your mojo in a relationship by being single for too long. Instead, embracing your independence will actually make you more attractive to a prospective future partner.
Getting in relationships to avoid being single will be a long road to misery if you settle for less than what you deserve. Spend time working on yourself, discovering what you like as an individual, and learning to own it! Being single means having no one to answer to, so if it means walking around the house naked or singing in the shower, then so be it. Embrace it!
[Read: 8 productive ways to learn to love the single life]
Being single is not as bad as it seems. These common fears about the single life can really hold you back from enjoying your single status to the fullest.
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