Scientific research has shown there are numerous physical and mental benefits to being single. But some people still find the idea terrifying.
“With clients I talk to, I notice that many people are afraid of being alone,” online psychologist Carolin Müller told INSIDER. “There are many people who feel like this — they are hardly afraid of anything more than being alone, like it’s the worst case that could ever happen.”
Some people jump from relationship to relationship because they are hooked on the pleasant feelings they get from the attention, she said, but this means they are also at a greater risk of falling for someone toxic. This is because being with someone who is wrong for them is better than being alone.
“I know people even with my clients who have never been single in their life,” Müller said. “And if you think about it, it’s a weird fear, you know … I think if you are alone, if you are single, it is a good opportunity to get to know yourself and learn to love yourself more.”
If you get all of your self-confidence and self-worth from what someone else is telling you, you’ll become dependent on it, she said.
For example, it’s wonderful to hear that you’re lovable, beautiful, and amazing, but if you’re not telling yourself the same thing, you’re only getting validation from outside. Then if your partner cheats on you, leaves you for someone else, or even dies, this stream of validation disappears.
“You will feel like you’re in withdrawal and this is a bad feeling,” said Müller. “But this is not because being alone is so bad, it’s because you are dependent on the validation of the person in the first place.”
If you approach relationships in this way — looking to replace the feelings of validation you lost from a former partner with a new one — you’re more likely to feel animosity about your exes.
“These will be people who don’t talk to their ex-boyfriends or girlfriends,” said Müller. “They remove them, they’re dismissed … It’s like getting the new fix.”
It’s very hard to break this toxic cycle, she added, but it can be done by embracing being single when the chance comes around. This is because developing emotional independence will actually help you become more emotionally stable.
“If you understand yourself first of all, you will be able to understand others much more,” she said. “You’ll know about your needs and your expectations, and you will understand why certain people act the way they do.”
Learning about yourself will also help you in the future when you do find the right person. You’ll realise that relationships are about giving, not receiving, and you’ll feel more confident because you know you can overcome it if the relationship doesn’t work out.
“I believe I’m strong enough to handle it, so I take a higher risk in the relationship at the end,” Müller said.
“Imagine two people who love themselves and love each other dearly, who just give love to each other instead of asking for it. It’s a beautiful relationship, and this is what a healthy relationship is.”
Originally published on Insider.
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