Is Anxiety Keeping You Single? (F.E.A.R.)

You’re Still Single and Don’t Know Why

Hate that you’re still single? “F.E.A.R.” could be sabotaging your love life and you don’t even know it. When anxiety, fear, or “ghosts of relationships past” get in they way of finding love, it’s time to nip it in the bud!

F – Fear of Judgment/Rejection

“Everyone’s looking at me.”
“She’ll think I’m a nervous freak.”

Fears of being judged or rejected by others are examples of social anxiety. Finding the perfect love match requires a fair amount of approaching and meeting strangers (aka dating), which to the socially anxious person is the equivalent of asking a claustrophobe to live in an elevator. The social phobic person’s greatest fear is public humiliation and scrutiny. When they contemplate striking up conversation with an attractive person, the idea is quickly aborted after imagining a string of embarrassing scenarios. If social anxiety is ignored, it can eventually lead to avoiding more and more interpersonal situations. In other words, the fear of talking to an attractive person will eventually evolve into a reason to avoid it (“I’m not going to bother because she’s probably not my type anyway”). Avoiding the trial and error of dating means — yup, you guessed it — staying single.

E – “Ex” Issues

Once bitten, twice shy.

If meeting strangers doesn’t get your palms sweaty, maybe old relationship baggage does. Let’s say your last relationship ended horribly, leaving you holding the shards of a broken heart. Eventually you meet someone new — one who’s perfect for you — but all you can think about is what COULD go wrong. When something or someone has hurt you, an understandable response is to do everything possible to avoid experiencing pain again. As tempting as it is to lock yourself in the apartment and give up on relationships, remember it is possible to trust and love again. Most importantly, remember your next partner is not your ex – so don’t bring those old doubts and fears to the new relationship. Leave the ex where they belong – the past.

A – Attachment Pitfalls

You’re clinging like cellophane wrap, he’s running like mascara.

Believe it or not, the type of bond we form with caregivers as a baby influences how we bond in adult romantic relationships (Hazan & Shaver, 1987). If your caregivers consistently and appropriately met your needs in infancy (secure attachment), you’re likely to experience a comfortable and healthy attachment to the person you love. But not everyone’s so lucky.

Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Type = Clingy
Individuals who formed an insecure attachment as an infant (meaning the caregiver inconsistently met their needs) are more likely to experience a lot of anxiety about their love life. The possibility of abandonment is horrifying to this person. Hollywood portrays these characters in romantic comedies as obsessive, desperate women who push men away with crazy antics and incessant questioning like: “Are you cheating on me? Do you really love me?” Want to learn more about your romantic attachment type? Try taking this quiz.

R – Rigid Boundaries

Personal Boundaries — much like a fence around your home — are intended to separate and protect. But if you have an alligator-infested moat around your personal life, no one’s getting in. In an effort to protect themselves, people with rigid boundaries are reluctant to become emotionally involved. They may be closed to the idea of sharing their already established life with a mate or they may be avoiding the possibility of rejection. Rigid Boundary types are often very particular about how things “should be” and believe that their way of living is “the right way.” This fear-based inflexibility is likely to result in continued singledom.

If anxiety is getting in the way of experiencing a healthy, romantic relationship – therapy can help. One of the most effective psychological treatments for anxiety is Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT). Talk to a psychologist about learning how to overcome your F.E.A.R.

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