8 Ways 'FOMO' Causes Damage In Relationships

There's more to FOMO than missing out, but there are ways to break the bad habit.

woman experiencing relationship fomo Jelena Zelen / Shutterstock

Most of us have heard the acronym FOMO: the Fear Of Missing Out.

Whether it's specific, "Why didn't I get an invite?" or general the "Why doesn't my life look like theirs?," FOMO is hard for both couples and individuals. All it takes is a tweet, photo, or post, and the judging and comparing begin: "If only we were like that, things would be so much better." We experience everything from a touch of envy to a bucket of self-doubt.


Escaping the FOMO roundabout takes more than just tapping the brakes and saying, "Enough!" For those of us who regularly get caught up in the cycle, there may be another more serious hurdle to overcome — FOFO: the Fear Of Facing Ourselves.

Although turning inward and facing yourself sounds easy, you might be surprised. Nobody likes to feel painful feelings or think troubling thoughts. Rather than exploring the roots of our upset — whether recent or decades old — we head for the exit.

RELATED: 5 Excuses People Make When They Fear Failure — And What They Can Tell Themselves Instead


And while fear of turning inward is what we know, doing just the opposite — slowing down and confronting whatever unappealing reality is there — may be the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and our partners. It gives us the power to change.

See if any of these avoidance habits and techniques sound familiar. We all resort to some on occasion, but if any have become your go-to's, it's time to start paying attention. Face the truth of these eight ways FOMO and FOFO hurt your relationships.

How the fear of missing out, aka FOMO, shows up in relationships

1. Blaming

You find ways to point the finger instead of thinking about the role you play in your recurring conflicts.

2. Defending

You respond with excuses and explanations when your partner has a legitimate complaint and delivers it gently.


3. Black and white thinking

You act as if you're 100 percent right and your partner is 100 percent wrong instead of exploring the positives and negatives in both your perspectives.

4. Minimizing

You trivialize your issues as if there’s nothing to explore even though you know you overeat, overspend, work too much, or get too angry.

RELATED: What It Means To Have 'Monophobia' — And Why So Many People Have It

5. Rationalizing

You dodge problems by coming up with what seem like reasonable explanations: "Everybody deals with this. It's just how life is."

6. Feeling hopeless or helpless

You stuff your feelings and the energy weighs you down: "It’s useless. There’s nothing I can do. I’ve tried everything."


7. Shutting down

You tune out, change the subject, or make jokes so the conversation grinds to a halt. When it’s extreme, you leave the room.

8. Making threats

You deliver ultimatums: "I can't take you. I’m so done!" Unless you’re really done, this is so not okay. We all need to feel secure at home.

RELATED: 10 Simple Ways To Overcome Your Fear Of Being Judged By Others

How can you deal with FOMO in relationships?

Guess what? The longstanding complaints you have about your partner are usually true of you. You also exhibit the quality you’re pointing at, only in disguise. Yes, it takes two to tango, but for now, forget about your partner’s issues. Your partner can be loaded with faults and still be telling you something about yourself that's worth listening to.


Your immediate challenge is to go deeper by facing what doesn't work and what hasn't worked in a long time.

Here’s a question designed to get you headed in a better direction: "What feedback do you consistently get from your partner — feedback you hear over and over — but still ignore?"

Things like: "It’s hard to get your attention, we don't have fun together, there's too much criticism, we can’t talk without fighting, I’m not feeling appreciated, you don't take my side, or I don’t feel loved."


If your first thought is, "I only hear that at home," it might be because your partner knows you better than anyone else. If you’re a master at hiding your weaknesses from yourself, why not fess up? You’ve made tons of mistakes and are going to make tons more. The next time your partner tells you something about yourself, listen.

If you object to what you hear, listen harder. If you hear anything that makes the slightest bit of sense, make a promise to fight the FOFO so you can take a closer look and grow. Consider yourself lucky if you’re with somebody who helps you gently confront yourself and then, get to work.

RELATED: How To Be Alone (Without Being Lonely)

Diana Shulman, J.D., Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst and the author of The ABCs of Love: Learn How Couples Rekindle Desire and Get Happy Again.