Ask Darling D: I’m Afraid to Be Alone

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Dear Darling D,

I’m in a relationship that I know isn’t good. My boyfriend isn’t abusive or anything, but it’s just not great. My friends tell me all the time I can do better, and I believe them. But I’m afraid to be alone. I’d rather stay with him and have someone to hang out with and do things with than to start the dating process all over again. I don’t even know what advice I’m looking for. Can I stick it out? Or is breaking up with him unavoidable?

Please help me figure it out!

Leesa, Scared to be Solo

Dear Leesa,

You are not the only person to be in a situation like this. Being with someone becomes comfortable, and the idea of being without them is uncomfortable, despite the parts of the relationship that aren’t so great. I’m sorry you’re feeling stuck! While you’re the only one that can decide if you want to stay in a bad relationship or end it and go through the work of finding a better one, I will give you some perspective to think about as you make your choice.

Staying in an unhealthy relationship isn’t usually the best decision, but that’s for you to determine. The quality of your relationship impacts every other are of your life. So, while a positive, healthy relationship is usually worth fighting for, a negative relationship could be doing more damage in other areas too than you realize.

Lots of people stay in unsatisfying relationship out of fear of being alone. There’s actually a scientific term for it called attachment anxiety. When you have attachment anxiety, the need to have a partner can feel more important than the quality of the relationship itself. You feel a sense of security, albeit misplaced, from simply being in a relationship, even if that relationship causes more pain than it’s worth. If you have attachment anxiety, you’re more likely to turn a blind eye to negative aspects of the relationship and keep putting energy into something you know isn’t working. While that might appear to be optimism, it could leave you stuck in an unhealthy situation for longer than necessary.

I know getting back into the dating scene can be exhausting and overwhelming. And the ‘work’ that comes along with it can appear daunting enough to not think it’s worth it. But think of your happiness level with your current partner. You already admitted to knowing you could do better, which probably means you being happier, being treated better, enjoying your relationship more, having healthier relationship behaviors, etc. You CAN have better! So, do you want to continue to stay stuck in a situation that doesn’t leave you completely happy when you have the ability to turn that around? It may take some work, kissing a few more frogs, but it can also ultimately lead you to the right person you want to be with who treats you right. Is that work worth it to you?

You’re the only one with that answer, Leesa. I know it’s easier to stay put than to change up your entire dating life, but as someone who stayed in a relationship for longer than I knew I should – the switch up, work, and time it took to get me into a healthy, happy relationship was 100% worth it. And I would have done even more knowing my love life could be as good as it is!

Listen to your head AND your heart. You deserve to be happy. And if your current situation isn’t giving you that, I hope you love yourself enough to choose to get that happiness.

And remember, you’re never alone – you’ve got friends and family who will love you through any time you spend without a romantic partner!

Darling D

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