Overcoming the Fear of Being Alone

Question: “How will I know when I am ready for a new relationship… or ready to get married again?”
Answer: “When the thought of remaining single for the rest of your days doesn’t bother you!”

Many people seek relationships in an attempt to resolve their own hidden issues, but my advice is to FIRST look in the mirror and get good and comfortable with the person that you see there… THEN go looking for Mr. or Miss Right.

It’s ironic, but a key ingredient for a successful new relationship is a full acceptance of the single life, but many of us are very uncomfortable with being alone. Instead of embracing “aloneness” we will do anything to avoid it, and what better way than to run to the pleasant and comforting arms of dating someone new.

I know… I was one of those people!

My story is not unique. For me a very deep discomfort with aloneness was the big issue. I hated eating alone, traveling alone, sleeping alone, being alone at holidays… and so I sought relief in the pleasant arms of relationships. But consider this-if you are dating someone to avoid your fear of being alone, isn’t that a bit dishonest? If you care about them at all, shouldn’t you tell them the truth?:

“The main reason I want to spend time with you is to avoid my fear of being alone.
I am using you to avoid dealing with my fear.
You don’t mind, do you?”

If you were to meet me in person you would never guess that I was ever afraid of anything. I am a large, seemingly confident fellow, unafraid of speaking before a crowd and a risk taker in business… but what most don’t know, and would never imagine, is that I used to be terrified of being alone. I would do all sorts of clever things to avoid it and to hide it.

Feeling so “bad” was emotionally painful and at times loneliness was upon me like a jackal in the night. How could I escape? At age 45 I finally decided I had to confront this fear and so I broke up with my girlfriend at the time (a nice Gig Harbor girl) and made myself “be alone” until I was fully OK with it. It was hard, very hard, to confront my fear, but for 1 1/2 years I did just that. Other than a few activities with old friends I made myself do all the things that generated terror in me … eating out, movies, holidays, weekends, trips…… alone. Like cancer treatment, it wasn’t easy but it was necessary.

Being alone on Christmas day was the hardest, but I did what I could to get thru it. I visited my mom at the retirement center, went on a bike ride, then to a movie … and I was surprised to discover that at the end of the day I felt OK, I hadn’t died and actually I secretly felt proud of myself for what I had done. At first I loathed my alone time, then tolerated it, then embraced it, and finally I started to enjoy it.

What they say is true: “Face your fears and they will flee from you!” In a small but very important way I had liberated myself… I had set myself free.

If you do the “hard work” of confronting your fear (whatever it might be), then you will find that you can learn to be content with yourself and have the opportunity of sailing forward without dragging an emotional anchor. Ironically, your comfort with being single makes you a better person, a stronger person and a good candidate for a new relationship… if you choose it.