Of all of the painful emotions we experience, there is something that makes loneliness the most unbearable feeling to endure. It's the feeling that nobody cares, that nobody is here to help you through life, that you have to rely on your own instincts to try to get through life. For some of us, the fear of loneliness, also called monophobia, can be debilitating and cause us to have added struggles in our daily lives. I can speak for myself when I say that I have many tendencies, habits, and challenges I face in my effort to never feel lonely. But I am also here to say that you are not alone in your fear of loneliness and many of us fear that emotion (and the emotions that accompany it). So as an overly-apologetic, submissive, and often anxious person who fears loneliness, I have compiled a list of ten signs that you too might have a fear of being lonely.
1. You find it very difficult to cut toxic people out of your life, whether it is a friend or a significant other.
One of the most unhealthy thoughts (that I also experience) is when you feel that if you leave or cut off one person, you will lose everybody. It becomes tempting to hold onto every possible relationship you can because you are so fearful of the repercussions. This logic could be debilitating and possibly dangerous but it does take a lot of bravery to cut these people out of your life and overcome this fear. It's difficult to do so, but it's possible.
2. You feel you have to apologize for or justify all of your actions.
Personally, I am a huge sufferer of "sorry syndrome" where I am too afraid to say the wrong things in fear that if I make one mistake, I will lose everybody. I realized that this feeling stemmed from fearing loneliness, from worrying that everyone is going to leave me upon one wrong word or action. I found out that many other people with the same tendency could relate to me and were worried about losing the relationships in their lives that they had
3. You always need reassurance that everyone still likes/loves you and is not going to leave you.
Sometimes, this fear and belief that we will be lonely warps us so much that we need to hear it for ourselves that people still want to be around us. I have asked friends I have had for over a decade to reassure me that I don't annoy or burden them. While I value them and am so grateful for them, I still have the lingering fear that they will leave me behind.
4. You have difficulty appearing vulnerable in front of others.
Sometimes, showing vulnerability feels like exposing too much of yourself, to the point where you feel like nobody will like you anymore. It feels safer for us to keep emotions inside and appear stronger because people won't respond well to the other side of us. When I'm away at school, I usually try to cry behind closed doors because as I try to foster new relationships, I don't want anyone to see me like that and run away from me.
5. You are usually passive and submissive--sometimes letting your more aggressive counterparts "walk all over you."
While we need to pick our battles, sometimes it's important to stand up and advocate for ourselves. But isn't advocating ourselves risking that someone will leave us, spread lies about us, and cause us to be lonely? My own fear of loneliness makes it very hard to stand up for myself in different situations and sometimes I have allowed people to push me around. But none of us are doormats so we don't deserve to be treated as such.
6. You sometimes feel like you're caught up following the wrong friends or chasing the wrong relationships.
I will reiterate that I am thankful for many of my friends who have helped me throughout the years but for whatever reason, as I grow, so does my fear of loneliness. In years where I expand my horizons and try to meet new people, I sometimes have found myself blindly trying to follow "friends" who really never cared about me. It can be tough for us to be put in environments full of total strangers. We can't be the one who is all alone but how do we know who is right and who is wrong?
7. You find it hard to trust others and almost anticipate that somebody is going to let you down.
We expect the worst--that is that everybody is going to disappoint or abandon us at some point. I often find myself meeting people with huge and unhealthy amounts of cynicism, worrying that somewhere along the line, they will betray me or breach my trust. We sometimes don't even realize that we're further distancing ourselves with this mentality, but when we are so fearful, we also anticipate the worst case scenario.
8. You feel the need to always be around someone even if you don't genuinely connect with them.
As support for #6, we feel we have to be with others because we struggle so much to be with just ourselves. But sometimes, we don't actually connect to those people and we are simply using them to shield us from the feeling of loneliness. I sometimes feel so desperate to escape feeling lonely that I will latch on to certain people for just a night so I will temporarily feel like I have company.
9. You find yourself missing other people very often.
We feel such a strong attachment to those who we trust that we struggle to be separated from them because then we will be lonely again. Leaving home and staying among unfamiliar people is pretty daunting because we miss those who made us feel less alone. Missing someone is a difficult feeling to endure and many times we find ourselves feeling this way.
10. You settle for friendships or relationships that make you less than happy.
I always see the quote "Don't let your loneliness lower your standards." And it's hard for anybody to live by, but it's true. We are all afraid that we are going to end up lonely so we will settle for friends and lovers that make us unhappy. But none of us deserve that. While this fear may plague us, we have to let nature team up with the 7 billion people on this earth and make us realize that there are people in the world who are meant for us.