Being alone can be lonely, boring, and even scary…but it’s better than staying with a guy who isn’t right for you. Here’s how to end a relationship even when you’re scared or reluctant to start life on your own…
“I’ve been in the same relationship for 18 years,” says Nikki in response to How to Know if a Man is Emotionally Available for Love. “He’s a good man. He’s not abusive, he doesn’t drink or gamble or even smoke. But he has never been able to love me fully, he always held back, and I let the relationship keep going. I couldn’t admit that I was scared to be alone. I stayed with him because even though I knew our relationship wasn’t improving or even that healthy, I couldn’t face life as a single woman. Now I’ll be 40 soon and I don’t want to live in fear anymore. But I’m still scared to be alone, so how do I end my relationship?”
You’re not alone if you’re scared to be alone – here’s what Jack says on my article about letting go of someone you love: “I have a tremendous fear of being alone, but even with us living under the same roof, I’m as lonely as anyone can possibly be. I realize it’s over. I can’t end our relationship and stay as a roommate, watching him run around. I can see he’s unhappy, which makes me unhappy. I’d be doing him a favor by leaving, because at least he would have the freedom I know he wants.”
I think Jack would be doing both his partner and himself a favor if he ended his relationship. It may be easier in the short term to stay with someone even when you know the relationship is over, but in the long run it’ll only make things worse. Nikki has learned that, and Jack is in the process of learning it as well.
Ending a Relationship When You’re Scared to Be Alone
These tips are easier said than done, especially for a full-time writer like me! I love being alone. I didn’t get married until I was 35 years old (we’ve been married 11 years, so I guess I don’t love being alone as much as I thought). I’ve never lived with a boyfriend, never had a long-term love relationship outside of my marriage. I lived in Africa as a single woman for three years and traveled to many exotic parts of the world…all by myself.
I love spending time by myself. I prefer being married, but I think there’s a lot to be said for being alone.
If you can no longer ignore the warning signs of a bad relationship, it’s time for you to start learning how to be alone. The sooner you face, accept, and live with your fears of being alone, the sooner you can move forward into a happier, healthier life.
Learn why you’re scared to be alone
Maybe you’ve always lived with a husband or boyfriend, or you’re worried you’re not financially able of taking care of yourself. Maybe you’re worried about what friends, family, coworkers, and the neighbors will think if you’re alone.
One of the first steps to overcoming your feelings about being alone is to figure out the root of your fear. Maybe you were raised by a single mother, and are scared of the potential problems of raising your own kids by yourself. Maybe your parents have been married for 50 years, and you want to live up to their marriage expectations. Or, maybe you feel like you’re too shy to date, and can’t face more rejection in a love relationship.
Start writing down your fears…and your solutions
If you can learn the reasons you’re scared to be alone, you can start dealing with them. But if you just feel a vague fear or even terror at the thought of being single, then you won’t be able to move forward. You can start figuring out your fears by taking at least 15 minutes to write, write, and write more of your fears. Find a quiet place, take out a notebook and pen, and freewrite whatever comes into your mind when you picture yourself ending your relationship and being alone in a new life. Let yourself experience your fears, anxieties, and concerns.
You don’t need to start solving your problems right away…just get them out on paper. When you’re ready, you can start writing down the solutions or ways to overcome your fears of ending the relationship and starting over in your new life.
Find your Higher Power
The truth is that you’ll never find the strength and courage you need if you rely on yourself alone. You simply don’t have the energy, wisdom, or willpower to give yourself all the support and guidance you need. You can’t do it all alone.
And, you can’t rely on your friends, family, grown children, or your ex-boyfriend or ex-husband to bolster your strength and courage. They’re doing the best they can to manage their own lives, relationships, thoughts, and emotions! They’ve got their own fears, struggles, problems, and issues to take care of. They love you but you can’t depend on them to give you an unending supply of hope, faith, encouragement, or energy. You can’t rely on them to teach you about ending a relationship and facing your fears of being alone. You need to find a source of Higher Power that will give you a constant river of energy, love, hope, faith, and courage.
Maybe you call this source of spiritual strength and energy God, or a Higher Power, or the Universe. It really doesn’t matter what you call Him….as long as you find Him.
Stay connected to your source of strength, energy, and power
It’s one thing to know God exists. Maybe you’ve felt His presence – and maybe you’ve even prayed that He shows you how to end a relationship when you’re scared to be alone.
The key to finding the strength you need is to keep dipping into His flow. Can you feel the hum that reverberates through the Universe? Can you hear the engine that is constantly and quietly driving everything we see, feel, hear, and do? No matter if you can’t…it is still there. It’s that still small voice that is telling you what you need to do. Stay connected to that voice, to the flow of the Universe that is here for you.
God created you, He loves you, and He has a plan for your life. You may not be where you hoped you’d be at this stage of your life, but it’s not too late. This is an exciting time for you – it’s your chance to raise your head, take a leap of faith, and re-create your life! This is your chance to do something you’ve never done before. Yes, you’re scared to be alone. And yes, you can do this. But you can’t do it alone.
Think of yourself as strong, independent, and healthy
Another step that may help you stop being scared is to start reframing how you see yourself. Instead of clinging on to your boyfriend or husband and feeling scared to be without him or her, start detaching.
Emotional detachment means different things to different people. To me, it means you can be in a healthy love relationship but not fixate on your boyfriend or husband. For example, detaching from someone you care about can involve going to events and parties by yourself, taking a weekend trip alone, or making plans with your friends that don’t include your partner.
You might also start spending time with strong, single, independent people who are happy and healthy. Their sense of wellness and strength will rub off on you. You’ll pick up their positive, independent energy.
Speak your truth
“Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes,” said Maggie Kuhn. This is especially important when you’re learning how to leave a relationship even though you’re scared to be alone!
The other night I dreamt about women standing up in a huge auditorium and saying what’s on their minds and in their hearts. Two women talked about how hard it is to keep their hair looking good – the first woman felt alone and scared; she asked the second woman to stand with her. Then another woman stood up and announced that she’s finally pregnant! Her husband started their announcement; she loudly and proudly finished it. Two other women played their instruments – a trumpet and a tambourine – in celebration and support.
Our voices matter. My voice matters, and so does yours.
Even if your voice shakes
It doesn’t matter if you speak up about something as “inconsequential” as how to keep your hair from frizzing up in the rain or why you decided to go to Colorado instead of Columbia. It doesn’t matter if you’re announcing a baby bump, a new business, or a bike ride down the block. It doesn’t matter if you’re not sure how to end a relationship and start a new life, if you’re scared to be alone or anxious about what people think of you.
Be scared, and do what you need to do to take care of your life. Speak up, tell your husband or boyfriend what you need. Be honest and authentic. Your voice matters. Your spirit, your energy, and your plans have a real and direct effect on the world around you – whether or not you see immediate results.
Stand aside and let the critical voices pass
I’m a wee bit embarrassed to admit how judgmental I was of the first two women who spoke up in my dream.
“Who cares about how hard it is to keep a hairstyle looking good?” I thought. “How boring!”
I can’t always silence my critical inner voice – or the judgments of other people – but I can step aside and let those voices pass right on by. Instead of sitting in the crowd judging other women for what they say, I stand alongside those who actually have courage to stand up and speak out.
If you end your relationship, you may be criticized and judged. You’ll have to prepare for that. It’s okay if you’re not ready to speak your truth, if your fear of being alone is still overpowering your dislike of your relationship. It takes time to figure out what’s in your heart and mind. Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes, and you will Blossom in wildly unexpected shapes, colors, and sizes.
Be bold. Be brave.
Moving onwards, reaching upwards
I wrote 75 How to Let Go of Someone You Love: 3 Powerful Secrets (and 75 Tips!) for Healing Your Heart because I needed to learn how to let go of my sister. Letting her go was the most painful and difficult thing I ever did, but I had no choice.
To write this ebook, I interviewed life coaches, counselors, and grief coaches on letting go. I know how shocking, confusing, and heart-wrenching it is when you’re letting go of a loved one. It’s devastating – and it changes how you see yourself. Learning how to let go of someone you love is about rediscovering your passion and identity.
Ending a relationship when you’re scared of being alone is a process. Give yourself time to come to grips with the idea of solo living. Part of overcoming your fears is acknowledging and voicing your fears of being alone – which I invite you to do below.
Read books that make you happy to be single, if you’re scared to be alone. You need to focus on the positive aspects of being single – which include improved self-confidence, independence, strength and a renewed sense of self-worth and self-respect.
Meditations to Heal Your Life by Louise Hay is a fantastic book for healing and growth. Her insights and encouragement will enrich your body, mind, and soul, while giving you practical knowledge to apply to your day-to-day life. Tell yourself that you are in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. Use her meditations to affirm that you’re doing the right thing with your life and your relationship, and that you can move forward boldly and open-heartedly.
Do you know it’s time to end your relationship, but you’re scared to be alone? I welcome your comments below. I can’t give you advice about your relationship or life, but you may find it helpful to share your experience. Writing your story often brings clarity and insight, and can help you heal.
For more tips on how to end a relationship when you’re scared to be alone, read When You Can’t Let Go of the Past.
My prayer is that you find the strength and courage you need to end a relationship, even when you’re scared to be alone. May you find hope and faith, wisdom and clarity.
Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.
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