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Margaret Paul, Ph.D. Headshot

What Your Fear of Loneliness Is Really About

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FEAR OF BEING ALONE
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Is the fear of being alone keeping you in an unloving or abusive relationship?

Gina consulted with me because her marriage was falling apart. She had discovered that her husband was having yet another affair, and when he was with her he was either angry or withdrawn. She had requested numerous times that he join her in couples therapy, but he had no interest in healing their relationship.

Gina was financially independent and could easily leave. Their children were all adults. There was nothing to keep her in this marriage. Yet, she was still there.

"Gina, why are you staying in this marriage?"

"Because I'm afraid to be alone," Gina responded.

I hear this time and time again from both men and women. Why are so many people afraid to be alone? The underlying cause of the fear of being alone is self-abandonment. Imagine yourself as a baby being left alone -- a terrifying situation. As a tiny child, you cannot take care of yourself. You cannot get food to eat or water to drink. You cannot change your own diaper. Left alone long enough, you will die.

As an adult, this is certainly not the situation. However, if you have handed over to your partner the job of your physical and/or emotional well-being, it feels the same as being an abandoned child. This is may cause a fear of being alone. If you were to take full responsibility for yourself -- valuing yourself, listening to yourself, taking loving care of yourself physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually -- you might not fear being alone.

In your relationships, what do you do out of fear of being alone? Do you try to control your partner or others with anger, blame, tears or compliance? Do you put up with intolerable or abusive behavior? Do you rationalize that, no matter how bad it is, it is better than being alone? Does it feel as if you can't go on if you end up alone?

The truth is that the only time we actually feel alone is when we abandon ourselves. We may feel lonely when we want to share love with another and there isn't anyone there, or the other person is closed to connection. But being lonely is a fact of life. It can occur within a relationship or without. In fact, Gina was extremely lonely in her relationship, perhaps more lonely that she would have been had she been alone. She was willing to tolerate the deep loneliness and heartbreak to avoid being alone.

I worked with Gina on learning how take responsibility for her own feelings, how to manage her loneliness and how to connect with the love, wisdom and comfort of a spiritual source of guidance.

You are never alone, and when you learn to connect deeply with your true self and your guidance, you will know you are never alone. It is this deep inner connection that takes away the fear of being alone.

Gina worked with me individually in phone sessions and attended a five-day intensive to learn about inner bonding. After practicing for a year, Gina was ready to leave her marriage. She told her husband she was going to seek a divorce.

To her surprise, her husband agreed to do couples counseling with her. She still decided to separate from him, but they started to work together to heal their relationship. Eventually they attended a five-day inner bonding couples intensive together.

Today, while not all the problems are healed, they are on their way to creating a solid caring relationship. Because Gina was willing to heal her fear of being alone, her behavior changed so much in her marriage that her husband was willing to open and learn with her. But even if he hadn't, she would have been fine, since she was no longer abandoning herself.

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