Does the idea of being alone terrify you? Have you even considered it? What does being alone mean to you?
Being in a loving relationship is a blessing and certainly, something most people want and desire, but it shouldn’t mean losing yourself, for the sake of that relationship.
The reason there are so many unhealthy relationships nowadays is that people believe a relationship will complete them.
We hear people say, my other half, my rock, or I can’t live without them, etc. All these imply that the person feels incomplete on their own.
The problem with this kind of thinking is that the one who is terrified of being alone will do almost anything to keep the relationship together.
In the early stages, when emotions are at their highest, it’s difficult to see the cracks in the relationship because of the ‘chemistry’ between. You know the saying, ‘love is blind!’
If a man and woman come together and both struggle with unresolved issues from their childhood, they are coming from a place of lack and loneliness instead of from a place of emotional strength and maturity.
This will inevitably lead to pain and dysfunction. The classic dysfunctional match is between a codependent and a narcissist.
The co-dependent (often the woman) feels she has found the man of her dreams and he feels he has found the perfect woman who understands him. There attraction is magnetic, but it is more to do with a familiar pattern than genuine love.
Ross Rosenberg, a psychotherapist and recovering codependent compares this relationship dynamic to a dance where the two opposites seem to fit so well together. He calls it, ‘The Human Magnet Syndrome.’
Rosenberg says, ‘this magnetic love connection begins like a fairy-tale, but quickly morphs into a painful “seesaw” of love and hate and hope and disappointment.’
So, what can we do?
If we do not face our aloneness and become comfortable with our uniqueness before committing to a relationship, we will not be secure in the relationship. Why? because we don’t really know who we are.
Healthy relationships consist of two people who are secure in themselves and emotionally ready to enter a relationship, knowing what they want, and being able to express that early on in the relationship.
It sounds simple, but not so with an insecure person who feels they have little value and seeks to find validation through that relationship.
It all looks bliss at the beginning, but when their partner decides to seek some separateness, this person feels an intense fear of rejection or abandonment because of their childhood wound.
This fear of losing the relationship makes them act in ways that put pressure on it. They start to feel insecure and unloveable when their partner steps back, and the more he/she steps back, the more fearful they become.
They then start to do whatever they perceive their partner to need or want to get them to stay, so much so that it can lead to an obsession. The codependent gives up all of one’s own needs to focus on fulfilling the needs of their partner.
Where does this fear of being alone come from?
It comes from childhood – it’s a fear of abandonment. In a home where a child’s basic needs for love and affection were not met, it develops a core feeling of inadequacy or insignificance in a child. The parents or caregivers did not see, hear or validate the child.
For example, if the child was dismissed, ignored or scolded for expressing their likes, feelings or desires, they internalize this to mean I am not good enough or worthy of love.
When the parents neglect or mistreat the child mentally, emotionally, or physically, the child then lives with a fear of not being good enough and decides to be, nice, and well behaved to receive their parent’s love or affection.
So in order to be loved, this child learns that to ask for what they want is not acceptable. Instead, they learn to please their parents (caregivers).
This child develops a fragile identity and does not feel comfortable on their own. They seek out a relationship to fill the void, but deep down they don’t believe anyone could love them for who they really are.
What behaviours does the child develop?
The child soon learns that if I do not give my caregivers what they want and make them happy, I will be abandoned. So the child becomes hypervigilant, watching the moods and behaviours of the parents intently, so as to meet their needs and wants and not cause any conflict. The child lives in fear of maybe an outburst of anger, rage, or even violence.
In some families, the abuse is subtle. The home could be tidy, organized and even quiet, but the tension in the air is intense and everyone is walking on eggshells. No child in that family can develop a strong sense of self.
They learn to look outward to satisfy the needs of the other person while ignoring their own needs and wants to the point of not even knowing they have any.
This, of course, is not love, but the child thinks it is as they have no other point of reference. It becomes their normal and they in turn go through life thinking if I can just meet the needs of others, I will be loved.
You are not half a person
The good news is.. we were created for relationships, so there is nothing wrong with wanting to be in a romantic relationship. God is all for marriage and He has called some for a single life too, which is another story.
But, we are not meant to get married to fix our problems, because it simply doesn’t work. When we’ve been broken in childhood, we tend to attract unhealthy relationships, most of which are abusive or at least unfulfilling.
A person who is afraid of being alone usually attracts controlling people who will take advantage of this weakness because of their own dysfunction.
This is what Ross Rosenberg refers to as, the dance between the narcissist and the co-dependent. This is the classic dysfunctional relationship dynamic, but there are others too.
How to know if you are in an abusive relationship?
- You feel it – you feel like you are not being loved or appreciated.
- You don’t feel valued – they don’t validate or compliment you, instead they put you down, belittle you or dismiss you.
- Your partner is verbally abusive – they may be hot-tempered or generally moody and insulting.
- Emotionally abusive – they don’t meet your need to be heard, they don’t support or comfort you when you are upset. They only talk about themselves and do not consider your needs or wants.
- Physically abusive – they are violent.
- Mentally abusive – they are highly critical and condemning.
- Spiritually abusive – they use religion to make you feel bad, eg. they may call you a hypocrite for following God.
You Are Not Alone
You are never alone. Don’t believe the lies the enemy has fed you. You have a God who is all powerful and is for you, not against you. You may have felt abandoned by your parents or caregivers, but know this – God never abandoned you.
Jesus clearly states in the Bible:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
When I was in my 30’s, I was seeing a spiritual director/educator and doing workshops with her. It was very fulfilling after having two serious relationships, one after another.
In one of our sessions, I was talking about looking for love, when she asked me, could I be single for a while instead? I was taken aback as it wasn’t the usual rhetoric I was hearing from everyone.
I liked the idea of it though and discussed that possibility with her further. I felt I was going against the grain, but it felt good all the same.
The idea of being at peace and not having to deal with intense emotions sounded nice. So, I decided to forget about looking for love and continue to heal my wounded soul.
The first course I did with her was called ‘Who Am I? It was fantastic! I had never felt so fulfilled in my life. That seems strange, I know, but if you grew up not knowing who you were, you would feel the same. I felt nourished for the first time in years.
Even though I had two close relationships back to back, with nice men, I was not feeling emotionally or spiritually fulfilled, mainly because I did not know myself or love myself enough.
You will never find completeness through human relationships alone… You can only find it in God.
Seeking a relationship with God is the cure to loneliness or feelings of inadequacy. When you come to know the living God, He will lead you on the path to wholeness.
It may take time to feel it and to see the fruits in your life, but the first and most beautiful fruits start on the inside. God starts to fill you up with love in your inner man.
People will be confused by your choice to be alone, yet they won’t be able to deny that you do in fact look happy.
I know how people feel about this – absolute panic.’What if I never meet anyone? What if it’s too late? What if I don’t have children?’ It’s true, all these things need to be considered.
But, have you properly sat with those questions yourself? What would happen to you if you were infact alone for many years? Who would you be? What would that look like? What would you do with all that extra time? Would you be bored? If so, why?
How would a relationship make you happier? When you take the time to really answer these questions and know what’s important to you, you can start working towards achieving your true desires and when you feel you are on that path, you will then be led towards the right relationships, at the right time.
We need to develop a new way of looking at life. When we view things from an eternal perspective, the value we put on them shifts. We move towards our higher purpose – with or without a partner.
The other alternative is to do things your way, in your timeframe. But, when we are out of the will of God, we suffer. We suffer in our relationships and have little peace.
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ, you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.”
The promise of Christ is that He will live in you and bring you into alignment with Him one step at a time or to put it another way, He will transform you from glory to glory.
“God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”