It’s an understatement to say our society is obsessed with romance and coupledom. Many holidays have been invented to celebrate romantic relationships and policies made to encourage getting married and having children. Single people constantly have to dodge curious and judgmental questions from friends, family, or even strangers about their relationship status.
As a result, many people have internalized, even without realizing it, that they should be with someone — regardless of personal circumstances and characteristics. They struggle to stomach the thought that they will go through life alone without a romantic partner or even reach their mid-30s without a serious relationship. That scenario would seem to them like a huge failure.
If this is you, I feel you — you’re not alone. But you might want to take a closer look at your thinking and decision-making patterns. It’s because this fear of being single can lead to negative feelings and self-destructive behaviors that could hold you back from living a healthy, happy life and finding a worthwhile relationship.
Here are 9 things you might be unknowingly doing because you’re afraid of being single (forever):
1. You Feel Bad Turning Down Invites.
In your head, being single means failing and sad and lonely and all the negative stuff. This subconsciously drives you to do things to avoid that dreadful outcome and, thus, take any chance you can have to get into a relationship.
When someone asks you out, even though you are not attracted to this person, you don’t want to turn them down. You feel inclined to give them a chance because you think, “What if this will become a relationship?” and, if it does and even if it’s bad, at least you’ve got that sorted.
2. You Feel Guilty When You’re Not Dating.
If you look back on your past years, how long was the longest you’d gone without ANY romantic interactions? Let me guess… not long?
Even when it’s right after a breakup and you decide that you should take a break from dating to heal, at the back of your mind, you think you should be out there meeting new people and building new connections. You feel a sense of urgency and panic like there’s a timer ticking somewhere and suitable matches are scarce goods.
Being single becomes a problem and you need to solve it now. You can’t let yourself breathe and enjoy your alone time fully.
It takes us to the next point…
3. You’re Always Dating.
You only feel okay when you’re dating, seeing, or talking to someone because it means there’s a possibility of getting into a relationship. When you’re not having any romantic interactions, the fear of being single forever gets too real and so dating is used as an emotional band-aid — an instant “fear relief”.
You don’t even know if going on these dates actually yields any real result or the person you’re dating is right for you in the long run. You just want to get into a relationship first, thinking you can always deal with the more serious aspects of the relationship later.
4. You Jump from One Relationship to Another.
To you, your default state is being with someone.
After a breakup, you don’t have the habit of taking time to heal. You turn to friends and especially romantic prospects for support and comfort. You have unknowingly mastered the art of keeping your keen suitors at arm’s length and pulling them closer to you when you’re back on the market.
It’s less about who’s compatible with you but more about who’s most eager to be in a relationship with you and meets your needs best. Then, before you know it, you’re part of a new pair and your anxious feelings are temporarily shushed.
5. You Try to Morph Yourself into “Relationship Materials” — Whatever That Means.
When you go on dates, you don’t think: “This is who I am, I need someone who suits me, and I will stay single until I find this person.”
You think: “Look, this is someone desirable and a relationship with them would be so fantastic. What do they want from a partner? What’s considered “relationship materials” to them? I need to be that!”
You subconsciously act in a way that you think would fit with someone’s ideas of a dream partner instead of sticking to your unique ways of being. If someone rejects you, you feel a deep sense of shame, beating yourself up over the things you think you didn’t do well enough, for example: not being ladylike/manly enough or being too emotional/too independent.
6. You Become a People-pleaser.
You’re terrified of rejection and failure. So you want people to like you. You try hard to avoid conflicts. You don’t really say no.
If a romantic prospect invites you out and you happen to have another commitment, you will move that commitment to accommodate your date.
If you’re in a relationship, you will spend the majority of your time trying to make your partner happy without thinking about your own needs. When your partner gets upset over something, you blame yourself and take it as your responsibility to find the solutions.
7. When in A Relationship, You Avoid Rocking the Boat.
If you’re in a relationship and feel neglected or disrespected, you’re reluctant to call your partner out. You’re afraid that you will create conflicts and your partner will leave you. You would rather sweep your relationship problems under the rug than point them out at the risk of breaking up.
Worse, you make excuses for your partner’s bad behaviors and stay in denial about the toxic state of the relationship. In your mind, it’s still better than being single.
Which brings the next point…