How to Overcome Your Fear of Living Alone


The most common question I get is, “I’m scared to live on my own – how do I leave my relationship?” The answer is that you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

overcoming fear of living aloneHere’s what one reader says on 10 Reasons Breaking Up is Hard to Do:

“I’ve been married for almost 26 yrs, I’m not sure if I want a divorce or separation. My husband has always put his needs before mine, I work a full time job as does he, I come home feed the dogs, make dinner, clean, I go to grocery store, etc… my husband basically does a little yard work and an occasional chore. He has never been lovey dovey towards me and I have always hoped with time we would grow closer but if anything I feel it is getting worse. I have a depressive personality and low self-esteem so having to hear him criticize me every day makes me cry on a regular basis. He never wants to do anything with me anymore. I have been thinking of separating for a long time but honestly I am scared as hell about living on my own, can I do it and if not what then? Please help.”


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Here are a few tips for overcoming your fear of living alone after being married for decades…

Learn how to live in uncertainty

I’m working on my Master’s of Social Work at UBC, and my practicum placement is with the Alzheimer’s Society of BC. I’m involved in support groups for caregivers; in a meeting last week, a man said that he has to learn how to live in uncertainty. The doctors don’t know if his wife will live for two years with her disease, or 20. He said the hardest part of living with his wife’s illness is the uncertainty.

Uncertainty is one of the constants in our lives – whether we’re healthy or sick, in love or alone, or on the brink of divorce or marriage. There is no way to overcome your fears of anything in life (so the title of this article is a bit misleading!). The only way to overcome your fear of being alone is to be alone. Will you still be afraid? Maybe. But maybe not.

If you have nobody to share your fear of uncertainty or being alone with, read How to Find Someone To Talk To.

Remember that anticipation is worse than reality

Another thing I learned from that same meeting is that we build things up in our mind to be terrifying, but when they actually happen, it’s not as bad as we thought.

Last night I took a pregnancy test, and I was so scared that it would be negative. I would love to be pregnant! We can’t have kids, but my period is two months late, so I thought maybe a miracle happened…but the pregnancy test was negative.

The thought and dread of that negative test was far worse than the actual minus sign on the stick. Honestly, facing reality and seeing that it’s not as bad as I thought is MUCH easier than living in fear of what could be.

Figure out what you’re afraid of

Right now, you’re working full-time, taking care of all the household chores, socializing without your husband, and living without love.

Why are you so scared to live on your own? Make a list of reasons. Are you scared you won’t be able to pay the bills? Find a place to live? Be loved again?

For each fear, write down a possible solution. For instance, if you’re scared you won’t be able to pay the bills, then a solution may be to look into how much it’ll cost to live alone. Compare that to your income. How will you deal with your fear, which is now specific and practical?

fear of living aloneYou may find Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg very helpful.  He shows that most people who are living alone – whether in their twenties or eighties – are deeply engaged in social and community life. There’s even evidence that people who live alone enjoy better mental health and have more environmentally sustainable lifestyles.

Don’t keep struggling alone with your fears of living alone. Get information and support to move forward in strength, love, and freedom!

For more tips on overcoming your fear of living on your own, read How to End a Relationship When You’re Scared to Be Alone. The comments at the end may be especially helpful – you’ll see you’re not alone.

And, as always, I welcome your thoughts below. I can’t offer advice on how to overcome your fear of being alone, but you may find it helpful to share your experience. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and even hope and healing!

xo


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7 thoughts on “How to Overcome Your Fear of Living Alone

  • Mishy

    Hello. I am currently living alone in a studio after a 5 year relationship that ended. It has been both a wonderful and also scary experience. I am dating another man now for about 10 months. We see each other most nights, but we try to keep a couple nights to ourselves because we both have the tendencies to be codependent & our previous MOs have been to move in together with who we date right away. We are waiting to do this although I have voiced to him several times that I’d like to live with him. I get really lonely sometimes when I am home along for long periods of time. Normally I am out and about and very busy. Sometimes I do feel very lonely and sad and I cry, perhaps because I have always lived with a roommate or a boyfriend and I feel somehow that moving in together will never happen. I know I need to focus on the present & write about my fears and just push through the fear of being alone. I love to write and read so I know I have plenty to do when I am alone. I just need to get past the sadness & loneliness fears. I think it has a lot to do with being 34 and living alone again and not wanting my life to be that way – I want marriage and a family, but I suppose that isn’t my higher power’s plan right now and I need to be patient & open. Thank you for your post it was very helpful!

  • Laurie Post author

    Hi Chelcie,

    How are you doing — have you taken the leap and broken off your relationship? It can be a process, and it can take time to overcome all the obstacles. I haven’t overcome my fear of living alone, and I know sometimes it takes a long, long time. Maybe it’s never easy, depending on your personality and ability to take leaps of faith!

    Come back anytime, let me know how you’re doing.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

    • Chelcie

      Hi Laurie,

      Strange enough i have found my self on the same blog i read over a year ago. I am now living part time in my hometown still working the same job but have two office locations. This has allowed me to visit my boyfriend a few.times.a.month keeping me from having to go though the break up process. I am hoping one day soon I will be able to cut my loses and realize its.not going to work.

      Thank you for responding to my original comment. It’s nice to know someone is listening!

  • Chelcie

    I am.26.years old and I am about to take the leap and break.off.my five.year relationship. I.have never lived alone and I am afraid of being alone at night.. I am extremely unhappy in my relationship and feel like I have wasted the.last five years. I want to have a fresh start and i am able to move.back to my home town and relocate my job as.well. I feel like everything will work out but I have doubts and guilt for leaving him. Thank you for.your post!

  • Laurie Post author

    Thank you for being here, Margaret, and sharing how you’ve coped with a bad relationship for the bast 40 years. That’s such a long time! I can’t believe it.

    I hope other women reading this learn how to overcome their fear of being alone, and start taking their lives back.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Margaret

    You lose your life if you do not leave, I am 65 have been in a mental
    abusive, obsessive, possessive relationship since 21, I read all the letters
    and basically they are all the same, one difference, physical abuse if it is that case run as fast as you can. Mental abuse, the husband has to have control. Every now and again, they will start, put you down, be rude, angry, say awful things about your friends, shout, swear, drink, you lose your confidence and find it hard to make a move.when you are down, then they turn pleasant, don’t say sorry………..I lost MY life. I live with a angry nasty man…….I am still here.

    • Veronica

      Same situation. Married since 18 years old. I’m physically sick now. On top of everything, I’m dealing with a rare disease and cancer. I just can’t take it anymore. He has always been controlling. Now he is worst then ever. I pray to leave as soon as possible. He can have the house, etc. It’s worth it for peace of mind. I know God is with me.