Everyone feels fear from time to time, but there are some fears that come from growing up in a culture that says that being single is bad and it’s scary to be alone.
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Let’s face it my fellow Singularians, despite all the support we get about embracing our singlehood, there may come a time when we awake in panic, wondering, “If I choked on Chunky Monkey, fell into the toilet head first after too many tequila shooters, or started to knit cat booties nonstop while humming the theme from Jeopardy! who would be there to save me?
Well, today I’m devoting my whole column to coping with those “being single” fears.
Fear is something everyone deals with, not just single people, but there are some fears that seem to be more prevalent among those of us who are not partnered. Here are the top 12 that I hear most often.
1) I’m afraid I’ll die alone and my cats will be forced to eat my dead body in order to survive.
2) I’m afraid my biological clock is about to tell me my time is up.
3) I’m afraid I’ll end up living out of my car … which I still haven’t paid off.
4) I’m afraid I’m incapable of forming a true partnership with another human being.
5) I’m afraid I’ll still have a place at the kiddies’ table when I’m 50.
6) I’m afraid I blew my best shot — Melvin — even though his sister came on all our dates.
7) I’m afraid I’ll grow hair in odd places and lose hair in the good places – I won’t be attractive and no one will want me.
8) I’m afraid my boyfriend in 6th grade was right. I am a loser.
9) I’m afraid my mother was right. I am a loser.
10) I’m afraid I’m turning a bit bitter … just because I reported my ex to the IRS, and to his wife.
11) I’m afraid I’m a narcissistic, self-centered witch with no empathy who ignores a homeless person’s plea on my way to shop at Bloomies.
12) I’m afraid I suffer from an undiagnosed, unknown sexual dysfunction and will never have sex again.
All of these evoke unmitigated fear of facing the unknown all alone.
First, calm down. Being single can be challenging. But trust me, being tethered to another and feeling alone is a lot tougher. And everyone, single or not, goes through periods of fear. It’s just part of life. In fact, when you’re single you have just yourself to worry about, with a mate, you’ll worry about the two of you — that’s “fear”-squared. Singlehood at least lets us focus on one. We can deal with our fears without needing “agreement.” Yes, we’re free to fear all by ourselves and create new pathways out without seeking “permission” from a second party.
You see, some fear can be a healthy motivator. In all my years of working with people, I believe we learn more from our fears and mistakes than from our so-called “successes.” Fear can move us off our duffs and force us to re-think, take action, risks, change things up – and savor the lemonade we’ve made from the rank lemons we’re all dealt at some point in life.
But first we need to grab each fear and rip its lying head off by looking at the source, forming a new, authentic view of you, and making a new resolution.
Here’s a short-hand example:
FEAR: I’m afraid my mother was right. I’m a loser and no one wants me.
SOURCE: My mother. Whenever I got a 98 percent on a test, she frowned because I didn’t ace it.
EVIDENCE: Whoa. This is the woman who was also married four times, all losers. What bull. I graduated with honors, have a career I love, good friends – and have reduced our obligatory phone calls to once a week.
TRUE VIEW: I am NOT a loser. I’ve proven it! I am a successful functioning adult who has managed quite well on my own.
RESOLUTION: I will not let the lies told to me in childhood by a woman with issues color my life. The adult in me knows better! Time to book those flying lessons!
Then throw that damn fear in a zip-lock baggie, toss it and risk change in your favor.
Finally, for any of you out there who may wake up worrying that according to the shrink-of-the-month’s best-seller: “10 Top Nutsy Behaviors: How to Get Emotionally Healthy” you’re a commitment phobe because at 42 you’ve never been married, listen up.
In my vast experience with the matter, not all of us were meant to enter the Ark two-by-two. The late legend, Katherine Hepburn once said: “If I were about to go on stage, I never wanted to get a call from the nanny that my child had 104 fever. Knowing me, I couldn’t choose. I couldn’t do both well.”
The singular ability to know what you want, what you do well, and what you don’t takes uncommon sense. Anyone with such good sense has the courage to slay the demons.
Copyright © Marnie Macauley / 2018 Singular Communications, LLC.
Advice guru Marnie Winston-Macauley — therapist, author, speaker — has been a radio, TV, and syndicated advice columnist and counselor for over 20 years. Witty, wise and totally irreverent with a self-professed loathing for psychobabble, she’s written over 20 books and calendars, along with hundreds of relationship columns and features for prominent publications. She has her MS degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work. In media, her work has garnered her Emmy and Writer’s Guild Best Writing nominations. She is widowed and now living single. For personal advice, you can also find Marnie Macauley on Liveperson.com or on Presto Experts. She invites you to join her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.