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Why do we have this terror of being alone?

(74 Posts)
Kumali Thu 11-Jul-19 17:56:45

I read it on here again and again. "He's a cheating lying cocklodger but I'm terrified of him leaving" and put up with crap just to have something or someone.
I'm one of them. I've not managed to get to the root of why I'm like this, despite counselling, freedom programme, self help etc. The thought of being left alone literally fills me with panic. Nobody to love me. Nobody to text me. I'm on meds to control it.. They don't work. And yet.. I've been through the hardest of times, am attractive ( so they say) solvent.. and yet pathetic.
Any word of wisdom?

TeaForTheWin Thu 11-Jul-19 18:04:31

Often it can be a result of co-dependency issues. Most healthy adults are comfortable being single. When they aren't it is usually because they have co-dependency issues to work though (either as a result of childhood issues like abandonment or prior abusive relationships) and/or their current partner has broke them down to the point where they feel they cannot get by on their own or wont be able to find someone else.

Usually the best course of action is to sever ALL ties and block all contact with the man and then if possible, see about speaking with a professional. Sometimes, in the case of just having had that one nasty relationship (having felt find being single before it) educating ones-self on cluster b disorders (to allow you to come to the conclusion that THEY have the issue, not you) may be enough though (no need for therapy).

Sunfull Thu 11-Jul-19 18:05:09

Sorry you're feeling this way.

I wonder whether some of it is a perception of value? We seem to place such a high importance on romantic relationships that to be without one makes some people feel somehow that means they don't have as much value as a person?

But maybe some of it is simply fear of the unknown?

Are you actually in a bad relationship now or single?

TeaForTheWin Thu 11-Jul-19 18:05:24

*having felt fine

supercali77 Thu 11-Jul-19 18:07:11

Well, firstly you're not 'pathetic'. If you are, join the queue. Secondly human beings are social creatures with a desire to mate and couple up. But, obviously the issue isn't that aspect but the part where we attach to someone who's unhealthy or even dangerous for us. From everything i've read - it traces back to childhood and parental attachments. I'm assuming you know all about Co-dependancy? The only other thing I can say is that i'm now at 42 for the first time truly single, no searching (at least for a while till i'm happy on my own), it's been hard, there's been some despair, but it comes in waves. I realise i'm pretty happy on my own - the boiling feeling that I need to be with someone isn't entirely authentic. A lot of it is down to a need for validation/self esteem. Until you stop searching for it outside of yourself - someone can always come along and capitalise on the vacancy. That's my theory at least

supercali77 Thu 11-Jul-19 18:08:44

Oh! I assumed you were newly single out of whatever shitstorm but maybe that's not the case?

ArgyMargy Thu 11-Jul-19 18:10:22

Some people can't be on their own. Some people find getting a dog helps because they can talk to/at it.

Sunfull Thu 11-Jul-19 18:16:16

Also - I have known a few people who are very afraid of being alone because they have certain issues they don't want to face. They don't want to spend time alone with their thoughts or confronting their 'demons' - so they burn through person after person (or stay in bad relationships) because it distracts them from the real issue at hand.

lazylinguist Thu 11-Jul-19 18:16:50

I'm always surprised by this too on MN. I can understand it being financially hard to break away, but the idea that being with an arsehole is better than being alone is totally alien to me.

I think it often starts young too. I remember girls who had boyfriend after boyfriend and couldn't stand to be single, or stayed with ones they clearly didn't really like. I never saw the point tbh. I only had two proper boyfriends in my life (not for want of offers) and have been married to the second one for 16 years. If he gets flattened by a bus, I'm staying single for the rest of my life grin. MN has convinced me most men make awful partners.

pointythings Thu 11-Jul-19 18:17:21

I think it's a blend of personal experience and social conditioning and it can be hard to overcome. I know I stayed with my H for far too long because of all the 'but what about's - what about the kids, what about coping alone financially, what about having 'failed' at relationships. It's weird, because with the cool calm lens of hindsight I can look back and see the 10 years that I was single and happy. And now that I am single again, I am happier than I have been for quite a few years.

I suspect I will never be in any relationship beyond FWB again and I'm fine with that.

NiceLegsShameAboutTheFace Thu 11-Jul-19 18:29:56

I have the exact same feeling ..... about being in a committed relationship. I can feel my heart rate increasing at the thought shock

I don't think we fully understand our fears; the human being is a complex, but absolutely amazing, animal smile

FermatsTheorem Thu 11-Jul-19 18:39:58

Partly that human beings are social animals, partly social conditioning. As a woman, right from the first time you saw a Disney film in which the heroine gets her prince and lives happily ever after, you've been subjected to a non-stop barrage of propaganda telling you that you are incomplete as a woman without a man.

For me the penny dropped when I was a teen. Some TV comedian was doing the usual sexist schtick about women trapping men into marriage and ball and chain and loss of freedom and all that. I suddenly realised it was entirely back to front, that looking at the marriages of most of the adults around me the woman was the one who became trapped - as unpaid cook/housekeeper, while the man's life went on exactly as before - job, hobbies, nights out down the pub with his mates entirely unaffected. In fact better than before, because he now had an unpaid cook/housekeeper.

I'd like to think things have changed since the 70s/80s, but every time I see yet another study talking about how much more of the housework women do even if both partners work full-time, or the double shift, or the threads on here about cycling widows I think "nope, it hasn't really changed."

Fear of being alone is one of the most spectacularly successful con jobs and protection rackets ever perpetrated.

Folkey Thu 11-Jul-19 18:42:23

Mixed feelings on this.

Pretty much been a single most of my life.

But honestly, I think a lot of its about LOVE.

As humans we have to have love - in some form be it companionship, affection, co-operation and so forth.

It can be Spiritual, the love of God.

It can come from other people. Men. Children.

From our pets.


But its all Love.

But I think we do need it. We can be alone, but we still need love?

Perhaps the problem is expecting it all from men, or men at all?

Folkey Thu 11-Jul-19 18:53:18

When I think of the many portals to Love I am free ...

Folkey Thu 11-Jul-19 18:54:37

Or should I say when I think of the many portals to Love I am more free ...

Pinktinker Thu 11-Jul-19 18:55:03

Most humans need some form of counselling to keep afloat I think. So many of us form unhealthy attachments and have toxic relationships. It’s almost a normal and natural human condition I’d say.

Also, humans are programmed to be sociable. Nobody wants to be alone.

RosaWaiting Thu 11-Jul-19 19:04:34

Pink “Nobody wants to be alone”

Actually quite a few of us do, but we are taught from birth that wanting to be alone is unnatural and bad.

OP, do you think social conditioning has a role in your feelings?

Justbreathing Thu 11-Jul-19 19:04:48

It’s not a bad thing to want to not be alone, but it is a bad thing to stay in a shit relationship because you’re afraid to be alone.

How one works all that out is beyond me I’m afraid!

Folkey Thu 11-Jul-19 19:19:55

following on with what Rosa says, you can be "alone" and still feel love and connection in the world - but it is not the usual, socially-conditioned way to be (of partnership) perhaps. By the same token you can be in 1:1 relationship and feel no love or connection.

Kumali Thu 11-Jul-19 20:09:38

Good points here. When I look back at my mum, she settled for all kinds of crap, she put no value on herself, it was all "she was nobody until somebody loves you" kind of thing.
I've always thought we were chalk and cheese but I honestly think that despite having my own house, car, career, PhD etc.. I've just morphed into her.
Yes I am in a relationship but feel like I give one hell of a lot.. There are things I'm not happy with but the fear that if I voice them, he'll vanish off just means I put up and shut up. I hate being this way..


Widgetsframe Thu 11-Jul-19 20:12:44

I really enjoy my own company but I couldn’t do it all the time. Folkey has nailed it

Sunfull Thu 11-Jul-19 20:25:06

Is it really better to be stuck in a relationship where your needs aren't met and you are too afraid to say how you feel in case it rocks the boat?

Isn't that just a different kind of alone?

RosaWaiting Thu 11-Jul-19 21:05:21

OP I'm just doing some life admin - boring yes - but I've got music on and the windows open and that lovely feeling that my life is mine. (Well, to some extent, I have my elderly mum to worry about).

but there's something about this kind of don't even catch of a whiff of freedom in the air...? I live alone and I have had illness and injury to contend with but friends and family have supported me. Friends more important as dad is gone and mum wouldn't be able to help me out with stuff now....but you can be single and have a support network.

CassettesAreCool Thu 11-Jul-19 21:20:15

I was in relationships from 14 to 53, I’ve been single now for four years. If I feel sad that I’m noone’s Number 1, I look at my dogs and remember i am truly loved. If I feel sad there’s no key in the door, I remember my lodger is on her way home. If I want to talk, I call my children or my friends. If I want physical intimacy, I see one of my FWBs. There is no law that says love has to come from just one person.

Only one thing about being single is scary: finances. The buck stops 100% with me. So I make decisions that mean I keep them under control ie some half wit man doesn’t mess them up. Only I do that!

Coupledom is, as a PP said, a big fat lie as a paradigm for happiness. When it works, it’s fab - but more often than not, it is slavery. And singledom has so much to be said in it’s favour

RosaWaiting Thu 11-Jul-19 21:28:56

I always think finances are scarier if someone else is involved - I'd never link legally to someone else's finances in case they fucked up, but also, if I was coupled up, I'd feel the weight of responsibility much more.

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