Forge a brave path to your soulmate.
Among single people who are pursuing romantic relationships, there are two very different ways to find love: from a position of strength and from a sense of fear. Those who are afraid of being single are running away from single life.
But those who come from a position of strength seek romantic relationships as a means to add something valuable to their lives. They're not afraid of being single; they just feel they might get something positive out of a romantic relationship.
Ever since I wrote my book, Singled Out, I've been trying to convince people that we need to take a stand against all of the stereotyping and stigmatizing of single people — a phenomenon I call "singlism." If single life were regarded as just as valid as coupled life, then more people could approach romantic relationships from a position of strength.
Which brings me to a study that supports my theory. A team of seven psychologists from the University of Toronto published results of their research in which they measured people's fear (or lack thereof) of being single. They then looked at how that level of fear mattered in their lives. And oh, did it matter!
The authors asked people to think about the extent to which they "fear being alone" (i.e., single, without a romantic partner). Slightly more people (39 percent) explicitly said that they don't fear being single than those who said they do fear being single (37 percent).
From the responses they received, the authors created a scale that measured people's fear of being single, including items such as:
- "It scares me to think that there might not be anyone out there for me."
- "If I end up alone in life, I will probably feel that there's something wrong with me."
- "I feel anxious when I think about being single forever."
The authors wondered whether the fearful people would think they'd be happier in a bad relationship than in no romantic relationship at all. So, they asked people who were and weren't in romantic relationships about their loneliness and depression.
Turns out, the people who were afraid of being single weren't any less lonely or depressed when they were in unsatisfying romantic relationships than they were when they were single.
The personality profile of people who are unafraid of being single is marked by strength and security. These people are unlikely to be depressed or lonely. They aren't overly sensitive to rejection and don't get their feelings hurt very often. Their self-esteem doesn't depend on whether they're in romantic relationships or how well any such relationship is going.
People who are unafraid of being single are less neurotic than their peers who are fretting about being single. They also tend to be a bit more open and extroverted. In the study, this group of people said things like, "Regardless of whether I have a significant other or not in the future, I will always have people who love me and who I love," and, "Having company is not the same as being fulfilled as a person."
The study found that some people who are in romantic relationships feel very dependent on their partners. People who are unafraid of being single are more likely to initiate breakups; people who are afraid of being single stay in bad relationships.
If you truly have a fabulous, healthy relationship, then feeling that way about your partner makes a certain kind of sense. But suppose you're in a relationship that isn't very satisfying. And it's not just your friends saying that — you've even admitted to yourself that you're not very happy in your relationship. The truth is, you're probably dependent on your partner.
If this is you, realize that you don't need to settle; you may just think you do.