“Pain makes you stronger. Fear makes you braver. Heartbreak makes you wiser.” ~Unknown
You wake up and check your phone expecting a “good morning” text, but there’s nothing there. Going through your day, everything feels quieter and there’s a gaping hole inside of you that nothing seems to fill. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to shake that relentless ache for the one person who consumes your mind.
It’s an emptiness that makes you feel lost and scared.
There’s nothing quite like a breakup to spark fears of being alone. It’s like a wave of dread that hits you once the breakup dust settles and you realize you no longer have a partner by your side. Anxiety hits and you start to wonder if you’ll ever find anyone to love you again.
It’s a fear that I became very familiar with while dating in my early twenties.
I was a late bloomer when it came to relationships. I never had a high school sweetheart, or even a college one for that matter, and spent half of my twenties in frustratingly casual relationships.
Those relationships would fizzle out almost as quickly as they began and, every time, I was left heartbroken, wondering if I’d be alone forever.
What made it worse is that I would see my friends in happy, committed relationships and doubt that I would ever have that for myself. Spending most of my life single felt like a curse.
Then, after countless short flings, I met someone who would eventually become my boyfriend. It was a moment I had been waiting for all those years, yet it wasn’t what I expected.
I thought being in a relationship would bring me happiness and peace, but once I had the serious, committed relationship I had been yearning for, I realized I was only masking my loneliness under a false sense of security. Because being with someone who was not right for me felt equally lonely.
So now that I’m single again after ending that five-year relationship, I have a new perspective on my feelings of loneliness and fear.
While I don’t have all of the answers and everyone has different ways of coping, here are some things that helped me overcome my fear of being alone after a breakup.
Lean on others for support.
A breakup can feel a lot like losing your balance. The person you once relied on for support has been pulled out from under you, and it can be difficult to find your footing.
Those feelings of loss only exacerbate the feelings of loneliness.
However, if you look around, you’ll most likely find that there are people in your life who are just as supportive (if not more) as your ex-partner.
After my breakup, the first people I turned to were my friends. They were my shoulder to cry on, and I could talk to them about anything and everything.
Even though I wasn’t communicating with them as often as I should have during my last relationship, when that ended, they were right by my side without hesitation.
Understand that being single doesn’t mean you’re alone.
Almost everyone has at least one person they can turn to in times of need, so turn to friends, family, or whoever you feel comfortable opening up to so that you can vent, cry, yell, and express your emotions freely, without inhibition.
If there’s no one in your life you can lean on, maybe this is a good time to work on building a support network outside of a romantic relationship by putting yourself in new situations and opening up to new friends. This way, being single won’t feel so scary because you’ll know you’re never truly alone.
Embrace being single.
Do you look at your breakup as just an ending, or also a new beginning?
If you view the change in your relationship status as a loss and nothing else, then, chances are, you also view being single as a negative, which allows your loneliness and sadness to get the better of you.
Sure, you lost a partner, and the heartbreak that comes with it takes time to heal, but you can choose how you perceive the breakup and the experience of being single.
So shift your perspective and focus on the positives by using this time as an opportunity to reconnect with yourself.
During a relationship, many people end up mirroring a lot of their partners’ habits, likes, and dislikes, losing their sense of self in the process. It happens to the best of us.
The end of a relationship is the perfect opportunity to reevaluate all of those interests and passions to see what is truly yours.
Think about it: You no longer have to consider the thoughts, feelings, and needs of another person, which means you can finally focus on you and you alone.
So embrace it.
Having the time and space to focus on your own needs is extremely important for growth and happiness. That way, you can develop a stronger sense of who you are, which will help you find a partner who is a better fit in the future.
Life’s ups and downs are all about perspective, and breakups are no different.
Get out of your head.
Oftentimes we overthink and over-analyze during times of stress and anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle that only perpetuates toxic thoughts and keeps us chained to the past. In order to move forward, you need to physically get moving.
Immerse yourself in activities that pull you out of your mind so that you’re less apt to dwell. Find things to do that disrupt your negative thought patterns so that you’re not constantly falling into a pit of fear and sadness. Exercise, take up a new hobby, do something creative, start a new passion project—anything to get you engaged with the physical world.
Focus on the world around you, practice gratitude, and be mindful of your thoughts and how they’re shaping your perspective of the world.
While you can’t completely avoid the feelings of loneliness, particularly during those quiet moments late at night and early in the morning, moving your body and taking action can make the transition from relationship to single life that much easier.
In turn, it will also ease those fears of being alone.
Relearn how to do things alone.
Having a partner in crime can be fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also have fun doing things alone.
There’s a certain level of empowerment that comes from doing an activity by yourself. It takes confidence and forces you into independence, both of which many of us could use more of.
So revisit old activities you used to only do with your partner and try doing them on your own. Find brand new activities to try out by yourself, as well.
After my breakup, I made an effort to do things I was too scared to do without a partner. I started with little things like going to restaurants by myself. Then I moved on to other activities like touring museums, relaxing on the beach, and visiting local sites in my city.
The biggest activity I took part in was going on vacation by myself. I drove two hours away to spend a few days in a town I had never been to, which pushed me past my fears of tackling the unknown on my own.
While all of these activities were terrifying at first, they taught me that I don’t need a partner to do the things I want to do. And it was empowering to know that I am capable of doing things by myself.
At first, it may be a little scary to go it alone, but pay attention to how you feel after. You may not feel better after the first time you do it, but after regular practice, you may find that you feel stronger and more confident as a result.
Practice self-care habits.
Going through the pain of a breakup requires space to heal, so use this time for introspective self-care.
Find practices and activities that add more peace and mindfulness to your daily life. You can do that through a meditation practice to clear your head and calm any anxiety you may be feeling, or you can start journaling and get your feelings down on paper.
Other self-care habits include: having a spa day, exercising, practicing healthy eating, and getting proper sleep.
The point is to be a little selfish and focus on yourself and your needs. When you do the activities listed above, listen to what’s going on in your body and mind—thoughts, emotions, aches, pains, and all.
It’s not easy, but facing your issues head-on will enable you to heal the wounds of the past so you don’t repeat damaging relationship patterns in the future.
It’s Worth Waiting for the Right Person
The last thing you want to do is enter into a new relationship simply because you’re scared of the alternative.
Fear can lead to desperation, which can cloud your judgment and push you toward decisions you wouldn’t make in the right state of mind. It’s in moments of desperation that we end up choosing the wrong partner and settling for less than we deserve.
It isn’t easy to embrace the single life when you’re afraid of being alone, but it’s all about perspective. Rather than allow your fears to back you into a corner and swallow you whole, challenge them by recognizing the opportunities in front of you.
You just may realize that being alone isn’t so bad because it gives you a chance to explore yourself and put your best foot forward when you are actually ready for love.
After all, is it not better to be single than to be driven by fear into the arms of the wrong person?