In society today, as it has been for decades, there is a very different perspective on being single for males and females. Men are seen as being freewheeling and not to become tied down too quickly while women are seen as lonely, depressed or unhappy if they are not in a relationship after they are in their 20s.
This type of pressure is not always overt; it can be very subtle. It is found I advertising, literature, movies and in conversations around the kitchen table with family and friends. It is also seen in the pressure for women, as well as men, to stay in emotionally unhealthy or unfulfilling relationships rather than to be single and on their own in a world designed for couples.
In reality, the fear of being single is not only harmful; it is a very real issue. Fear of being single even has a name, and it is anuptaphobia. In a 2013 study by S.S. Spielmann and others in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that the fear of being single and the subsequent anxiety could be used to predict an individual settling for less in a new partner or remaining in an undesirable and unsatisfying relationship.
Settling for less in a relationship may not look like a major factor at first glance. It may even be put off as just being realistic and choosing a partner that is going to be available rather than holding out for the perfect partner or Mr. or Mrs. Right.
The Problem With Settling
The issue of settling for less than the partner you deserve and desire is not just a reality check. It is a defense mechanism and a way to appease society while abandoning your own goals and your own desires.
In my new book “The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking your Obsession,” this phenomenon of settling for someone in the mistaken belief they can be fixed or improved upon, or that all they need is your love to help them to grow and change for the positive is a potential sign of love addiction.
If you find yourself willing to overlook bad behaviors, emotional distance or even emotionally damaging and abusive things, you may not be just settling; you may be in a destructive and harmful place. If you find that being in any type of relationship is better than being single, this is more than settling. This is an addiction to be part of a couple, regardless of the deep unhappiness you may experience when the partner never changes, and the behavior simply gets worse over time.
In other words, the more you strive to be happy in a relationship, the more likely you are to enter into a relationship that will rob you of your happiness, your sense of self and your sense of worth.
The Healthy Way to Be Single
As I talk about in the book, learning to be happy being single is a way to break the cycle. It isn’t easy, but taking small steps to become comfortable in being you and being with just you in your life is a deeply rewarding journey.
Learning how to be happy and single starts by finding things to do on your own. Spend a day doing something you enjoy and go by yourself. Don’t take a friend or a family member, just be comfortable with yourself.
Try something you have always wanted to do such as taking a class, going on a vacation, learning a new hobby or volunteering in your community. Meeting new people and feeling comfortable as one of a group and not one of a couple is another step to take in growing as a person and realizing the value, the worth and the happiness you can find as a healthy, happy single.
Once you are in this place, where you are comfortable as single, you are ready to see the opportunities for a healthy, loving relationship. From this place, you will choose partners who will give and take, respect boundaries and see you as an autonomous individual, not simply an extension of themselves
Take Sherry’s quiz to find out if you are a love addict. You can find her new book, The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking Your Obsession here. To learn more about Sherry Gaba and her work, visit www.sherrygaba.com.