By Keith Dent
Whether it’s the holiday season, wedding season or just time for your annual office party, it’s open season for FINALLY (maybe) meeting the love of your life. Or it means that after everything’s said and done, you’ll be starting a whole new year once again checking “single” on your 1040-EZ form.
Fear of being alone can cause people to make bad choices when it comes to relationships. In fact according to a study by the University of Toronto (U of T), the fear of being single is a meaningful predictor of settling for less in relationships among both men and women.
“Those with stronger fears about being single are willing to settle for less in their relationships,” says lead author Stephanie Spielmann, postdoctoral researcher in the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychology. “Sometimes they stay in relationships they aren’t happy in, and sometimes they want to date people who aren’t very good for them.”
She adds, “Now we understand that people’s anxieties about being single seem to play a key role in these types of unhealthy relationship behaviors.”
“In our results we see men and women having similar concerns about being single, which lead to similar coping behaviors, contradicting the idea that only women struggle with a fear of being single,” says co-author, Professor Geoff MacDonald of the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychology. “Loneliness is a painful experience for both men and women, so it’s not surprising that the fear of being single seems not to discriminate on the basis of gender.”
So if you’re feeling the pressure to settle, here are some things to remember before you make a bad choice:
1. You are ENOUGH.
The mainstream media is filled with really unhealthy messages regarding relationships. For example, many say that you need another person to make the holidays complete or to make you happy. These romantic notions work great in books and on the Hallmark Channel, but when taken literally, these ideas are super destructive.
You are always a whole and indivisible being, capable of immense self-love, self acceptance and self sexuality. Appreciate yourself and know that you’re not alone in your singleness.
2. You made a choice to be single because you WANT to be single.
Although it sounds ass-backward, this is a paradigm shift that will help you in the long run. By consciously making the choice to be single, if will shift the way you view your life and how you live it when it comes to sharing that information with your co-workers, family and friends. YOU are making this decision, so be proud.
3. You are in control of your life.
Instead of remaining the victim of your own fear of being single, take control! Tell yourself that you are actively remaining single for a the holidays. If you do plan to date every once in a while, make sure the dates are fun and give you ample time to get know someone. There’s no rush and no pressure – JUST fun.
4. Do WHATEVER you want.
In the end your relationship status is a personal choice – there is no right or wrong, no good or bad. Instead of being the victim of cultural assumptions and societal norms, take the time to find out how you really would like to engage with other people.
What kind of status would you choose if there was no pressure, no assumptions? Take your time and find what’s best for you. If you think something is a good idea, then there have already been many others who think the same, and have most likely blazed a trail for you to follow.
The way you engage in relationships (or don’t) is not what’s important – what IS important is doing it consciously, and doing what’s right for YOU!
5. It’s ALWAYS better to be single than in a bad relationship.
Getting into an unhealthy, bad relationship simply out of a fear of being alone is a really bad idea. It takes a lot of courage to take that leap into being single, but it’s always, 100% of the time worth it when the relationship is causing more harm than good.
Keith Dent is a YourTango Expert with over a decade of experience in the field, counseling and coaching individuals, couples, teens and their parents to help them improve their relationships and their ability to achieve their personal goals. Connect with him here.
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