What Is Monophobia — And Why Do So Many People Have It?

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lonely woman looking out window

I remember after my baby daddy left me, shortly after I had my daughter. I was angry, very angry. But, more than that, I realized I had a serious existential dread about me. I genuinely believed that my chances of having a spouse were over.

It was rough. Really rough. I’ve been that person who cried at night for a spouse I thought would never come. I also was that person who would get angry just looking at happy couples in the mall. It sucks to know, but it’s true. I was kind of a ball of rage and fear.

While most peoples’ experiences might not be as extreme as mine, the truth is that the fear of being single is a very common feeling. That’s why it may be a good idea to talk about what this is, per therapists. 

What is monophobia?

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Full disclosure, I actually learned about the term “monophobia” from a person who reached out to me from Choosing Therapy. They basically explained that the fear I spoke about in another article was called monophobia, and it’s actually a clinical diagnosis. 

If you have a fear of being single or ending up single for life, you have monophobia. See? Mono means single, phobia means fear. In psychology, phobias don’t just mean discomfort or feeling angry or sad. It’s a bit deeper than that.

A phobia is defined as, “A phobia is an anxiety disorder defined by a persistent and excessive fear of an object or situation.” Moreover, phobias are not just instant things like jump scares.

They are long-term, lasting at least six months, and they involve a pervasive concern that you might experience a certain fear. Since these fears are often borderline obsessive, they’re not as common as you think.

Around 8 percent of people have a phobia. Common ones include fear of death, a fear of drowning, and a fear of being attacked. But, monophobia is one phobia that’s starting to see an uptick in cases.

A person with monophobia doesn’t just hate being alone. They panic at the thought of it and obsess over getting someone — anyone! They can get very clingy, very quick. I’ve had monophobia for a long, long portion of my life.

What causes monophobia?

It varies. Some people are naturally going to be needier than others due to an overall anxious personality. Like other phobias, many people who suffer from monophobia have trauma dealing with it.

This trauma can come in a wide range of methods, including seeing others have a hard time being alone or having people make fun of you for being single. Sometimes, the social pressure to pair up or regular abandonment can be traumatic enough alone.

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The truth is that knowing why isn’t as important as knowing how to get over it.

Telling a person who has monophobia that they don’t need a partner doesn’t help.

I know, I know, I do this a lot. I keep talking about how important it is to stand up on your own. It sucks because it’s true and it’s something that can be absolutely useless to a person who has monophobia. It’s like, “Gee, thanks, I’m cured.”

In a lot of cases, people tend to assume people have monophobia when in reality, it’s frustration from having dating mess after dating mess. It’s normal to get angry and annoyed when you’re sitting there, trying to find a single decent partner, only to be told you’re not what others want.

Or, you know, in the case of women, find only people who treat you poorly.

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I’ve been the person who’s gotten so angry about their dating life that they’ve pushed square pegs through round holes — like when I dated a football jock type and broke down screaming at him for acting embarrassed about dating a goth chick. Monophobia is a bit different because it’s blind panic.

When you have monophobia, you will have a panic attack when someone breaks up with you. Or, even if you have them reply a little too late. It’s a very triggering experience.

Why do so many people have monophobia?

The truth is, there are a lot of reasons to have monophobia in today’s climate. There is strength in numbers, and facing life single isn’t always easy. We are naturally social creatures, too.

But, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a partner to be there for you. It becomes a problem when it turns into a need and you’re staying up late, freaking out over it.

A lot of us in society are love-starved and have absolutely no idea how to find the acceptance and love we need. It’s understandable why some people would dread having that be the way they live for the rest of their lives, especially if they haven’t learned how to cope or expand a social network.

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Many of us, particularly women, have been socialized to see having a partner as a sign of success. In families where parents’ love was conditional, having a partner can seem like the best way to get the adoration and acceptance you never had. It can be scary to realize that you might not get that.

The truth is that exposure to being single is one of the only cures for monophobia.

Or at least, you can do little to actually fix monophobia. Does therapy work? Yes, but that’s more about managing the fear and learning to understand why you feel that way. Sometimes, medication can help reduce nightmares and panic attacks.

According to most sources, the most effective way of handling a phobia is through exposure therapy. In other words, you have to actively be single and learn to live with being single to stop being afraid of it. Talk about a Catch-22, right?

It kind of sucks, because the entire issue of monophobia could seemingly subside from being hitched. At the same time, a person with monophobia might seek out people who aren’t healthy for them because they’d rather be abused than face their fear of being alone. That’s not healthy.

The bottom line is that you need to confront your fear of singledom.

Trust me when I say I understand that fear, perhaps a bit too well. It’s also a fear that’s being emphasized in today’s political climate. And it sucks because you can’t just take a magic pill to get rid of your fears.

Unfortunately, life is all about facing your fears and learning to build yourself up after getting knocked down a bunch. You can’t expect others to be the cure to what ails you. So, now that you have a name for it, it’s time to figure out what you can do to make things better.

I believe in you.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a weirdo who loves to write. She is available for hire. Follow her on Instagram.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.