Why do some people fear being single, or worse, believe a bad relationship is better than none at all? Single phobia: Everyone knows someone who flits from one relationship to the next, who’ll finish with one partner only when they’ve got another one lined up, and who haven’t slept alone since 1998.
Well, believe it or not, there’s an official name for the fear of the terrifyingly exotic world of singledom: anuptaphobia. You can even be treated for it in extreme circumstances.
But what is it about the single life that makes some people run frantically from one long term relationship to the next, or worse, believe that a bad relationship is better than none at all?
No one to cuddle at night
Those who are used to a bed companion find it hard to envisage life without one. A bed friend certainly has its advantages – especially in the chilly climes of winter when you have a human hot water bottle that doesn’t need preparing and remains warm throughout the night.
Some singlephobics even report not being able to sleep if their partner’s away for the night. We say buck up your ideas and recognise the advantages, and these are plentiful: no extra noise (be that snoring, heavy breathing or flatulence), no duvet hogging, and the total freedom to commit these antisocial acts yourself.
Get your cuddles elsewhere – parents, friends, even work colleagues. If you’re feeling brave, why not give the surly guy on security a squeeze, you may even elicit a smile (out of sheer terror if nothing else). Scientific research even shows that hugs have health benefits such as reducing blood pressure and alleviating stress. In short, restricting yourself to just one hugging companion is actually bad for your health.
No automatic plus ones
For a lot of people a partner is a social crutch – the one you automatically drag along to parties, family engagements and dinners. They are your excuse to leave early and your chaperone home when you’ve had a bit too much to drink. If you’re used to this form of instant company wherever you go, it can be an utterly terrifying prospect to go it alone.
But how many times have you gone to a party and been lazy about chatting to new people because you already have someone there? Singledom allows a social freedom that is as exciting as it is scary, but it shouldn’t be phobia worthy.
Lack of completeness
For some permapartner advocates, it’s as though we were designed to cope with life autonomously until adulthood, at which point our coping resources run out and we need someone else to make up the deficit. And to think all those poor single people having to cope with the daily onslaught of decision making all on their own like what colour toilet paper to buy and what their opinion is on the current state of the world.
These people tend to be the biggest ‘we’ offenders too. ‘We love the Algarve’, ‘we’re giving up alcohol for a month’. For these people being single is a tragic and evolutionarily defunct state of being. We think this is a bit silly.
It’s hard to find someone else
For some people, the fear of loneliness trumps all other valid reasons for getting out of a bad relationship. Most of us have probably experienced this to a greater or lesser degree – sticking with a relationship that’s going nowhere and justifying how bad it makes us feel by somehow convincing ourselves that the alternative – singledom, and the scary prospect of how long it will take for the next partner comes along – is enough reason to plough on.
In fact there’s nothing quite so powerful as the loneliness that can be experienced in a loveless/destructive/dysfunctional relationship, and being able to recognise this is a bigger challenge than the seemingly terrifying prospect of finding someone else.
All friends are in couples
If you’ve been with your partner for a while then often your social life tends to evolve into a couple-fest of double dates or, at best, activities that to cater best for couples. Your partner gets on well with such-and-such’s partner, and everything is convenient and cosy, so much so that ending a relationship means more than just splitting up with someone, it’s potentially pulling down your group’s social structure at its foundations.
Scary stuff? Not really. Social groups evolve to suit its constituent parts. Being newly single will make you approach friendships differently. |Looking outside of the couples’ bubble means you are no longer looking for couple compatibility, it’s about your interests and opinions. And you’ll probably find yourself getting to see a new and interesting side to your old friends too.
People will wonder what’s wrong with you
There’s nothing worse than someone in a relationship asking you why you’re single. It makes you feel instantly inferior, judged and ready for the leper colony. It also requires you to come up with some sort of plausible answer and as you scan your brain for a suitable response, inevitably all your old insecurities (too fat/crap in bed/halitosis) pop up to say hello. And before you know it you’re apologising for your marital status and promising to try harder.
But judgement on this scale really is in the eye of the beholder. Ultimately it is up to you how much other people’s opinion effects how you feel about your situation.