Hiding out in relationships: Why being single is the better option
One of the most common fears I hear as a therapist is the fear of being alone. Unfortunately, it’s what keeps so many of us in unhealthy relationships. And what’s worse than that? Apparently being single.
It’s amazing how time and new experiences transform emotional scars. I’m married with a child now, but there was a time I was convinced this would never be my reality. For most of my life I was the notorious single friend who “happily” tagged along as the third or fifth wheel. However, deep down I still struggled with the idea I might never marry or start a family. The fear of ending up alone felt very real to me.
Ironically, while I had significant periods of being single, I also spent nearly a decade involved in an on again off again relationship. Imagine that? All that time spent trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Maybe you can. Maybe you’re doing it now. How monotonous. Ugh, and boring [that’s hindsight for ya].
I was stuck, and it SUCKED watching friends move on with their lives. I was afraid I’d be left behind; abandoned and forgotten.
I revisit this emotionally painful period of my life through journal entries and creative writing I wrote back then. And even though I no longer feel the pain; I have immense empathy for that girl. I also admire her courage and perseverance.
“I HAD A LOT TO LEARN, A WAYS TO GROW; AND THAT RELATIONSHIP WAS CERTAINLY MY BEST TEACHER YET.”
So here I am speaking to you as someone who has been there. And while my story conveys hope in search of finding a life partner; my true message is that you don’t need one.
It’s helpful to have a friend play devil’s advocate. Today, that’s me! So whether you’re single or contemplating it, I’m here to serve up an empowering perspective to help you cope with the fear of being alone. What’s worse you ask? Well, spending your entire life trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
MOVING FROM A PLACE OF “NO THANKS, NOT INTERESTED” TO “WELCOME, TEACH ME”:
As humans, we’re hardwired to want and need relationships because of the opportunities they provide us for personal growth. This is the essence of life. Therefore, loneliness for long periods of time is something we try to avoid. Where we go horribly wrong is when we sacrifice our connection to our self for the sake of holding on to a relationship. Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose?
There comes a time in your life when you’re presented with an invitation to move on from a relationship because you’ve wandered off course, without self or purpose. For many of us, we respectfully decline this invite thinking; Thanks, but there must be another way. That way is too hard. Then we begin to work tirelessly to dust the dirt under the rug [only to have it kicked back up again later].
HIDING OUT IN RELATIONSHIPS
Hiding from our truth takes many forms. But one of the most commonly [and culturally acceptable] methods is relationships. Cause what better way to hide, than in someone else.
When you seek shelter in relationships you reinforce the belief that you NEED a relationship for (fill in the blank). You challenge this belief and build resiliency by choosing to expose yourself to the discomfort surrounding the things you fear. This is how you begin to trust that the sun will rise again, and gain a knowing that you will be okay.
I’ve discovered that many people who fear being alone, spend very little time alone. And obviously, we all know that when you’re single the one major pitfall is not having ole’ faithful there to rely on for company. You gotta go out and make s%#! happen. So yes, single has its awkward and lonely moments, but there is so much greatness to it.
Take for incidence the freedom of being single. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s often the one thing you’ll hear people admiring most about a single person’s [figurative] green grass…you know how free and liberated it looks. How great it must feel. It takes bravery and courage to grow your grass solo, which is why so many people try their best to steer clear. It’s risky business, but with a high personal payoff!
So don’t hide. Instead seek to explore the relationship with yourself more deeply. And like with any relationship, the more you nurture it, the more it will bloom. The better you know yourself the more you’ll trust decisions you make to develop and sustain relationships with others [and NOT just romantic ones]. So be grateful for the opportunity to create the most meaningful life experiences.
CAN I DATE MYSELF?
I’m glad you asked because that’s where I’m going with this. Whether you’re single or currently in a relationship, NOW is always the time to make friends with yourself!
Chances are you give good lovin’ to others so I want you to imagine that you are interested in dating yourself [what a babe!] Think about how you typically show interest in someone? Perhaps you give compliments or send love notes [via text]. Or make special arrangements to do something they enjoy.
You know what floats your boat so hit up that art show; splurge on some local produce to make a yummy dinner; or plan a spa day for yourself. Tell yourself how hot you look; dress up fancy; check in with yourself through daily journaling. It might sound cheesy [and it is] but it works. Get up and show up for yourself!
The goal here is to shower yourself with love and attention by spending quality time alone. So stop hiding your light. Let it shine!
Being Alone means to be without; to be without others; or without help. See, it all leads back to wanting to experience connection and belonging. We all want to know we meant something, and the connection experienced through relationship reflect this. However, we can’t forget that a sense of belonging begins within ourselves. Only then can we can truly embrace a genuine connection with others.
The following excerpt from Neale Donald Walsh’s book, Conversations with God beautifully summarizes my transformed perspective having had walked through my fear of being alone.
“It is very romantic to say that now your special other has entered your life, you feel compete. Yet the purpose of relationship is not to have another who might complete you; but to have another with whom you might share your completeness.”
Choosing to believe this helps to ease my fear of being alone. Perhaps, it may help you also. Because whether you’re in a relationship or not, the possibility of feeling lonely is always there. There are no guarantees. Therefore, there is no benefit to holding on to a relationship out of the fear of never finding another. You are never without if you stay connected to the belief that you are always complete.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. What holds you back from accepting invitations you’ve received in relationships? Any amazing nuggets of wisdom to share from your own experience through a painful breakup or being single?
Read more of Stephanie Catalano’s poetry and short writings at http://scatawrites.com