Every time a relationship has ended, the same fearful thought has filled my mind:
What if I don’t find anyone else?
Perhaps you can relate.
I think it’s a natural response to the thought of loss, and that’s ultimately what a breakup is.
No matter if it’s for the best, there’s still a grieving process that goes along with it.
We are being asked to leave our familiar and secure comfort zone and start again — and that’s nerve-wracking.
Our apprehension to do this can keep us stuck.
Are you wondering if it’s love that is holding you back right now or perhaps just fear?
Then check out the following signs that you don’t really love him, you’re just scared to start over.
1) You keep saying to yourself “What if…”
Whenever you think about splitting up, fearful stories fill your mind.
You are trying to figure it all out and predict how things might be.
But as a consequence, your brain is flooded with negative stories.
You jump to worst-case scenarios and it terrifies you.
It’s the uncertainty of it all which is to blame.
To a certain extent, you are fighting with natural built-in human instincts.
Biologically we are designed to exhibit extreme caution about situations that put us at risk. These include pretty much anything unfamiliar and new.
If it feels like your mind is scrambled right now, there is a good reason for it:
Neuroscience research has shown that our brain registers uncertainty in the same way it does an error.
So it gives you this sense that something is wrong.
Sadly that can mean that rational thinking goes out of the window, and instead, we fixate on our fear of loss.
2) You are afraid you might regret it later
Likely, one of the “What ifs” that keeps coming to mind is:
“What if I regret leaving him”
Our fear of regret can be a crippling one when it comes to decision-making.
As anxiety experts Martin Seif and Sally Winston point out in Psychology Today:
“The fear of regret is a component of FOMO (fear of missing out). Reluctance to close any pathways, opportunities, or options is fueled by the anticipation of wishing retrospectively that you had not limited yourself by making a choice.”
Closing off options can put you under pressure.
We fixate on making sure we’re making the right choice because we are scared of living with the consequences of the wrong one.
But this in itself can become paralyzing and we just go round and round thinking about the same things over again.
3) You’re thinking way more about the future than you are the present
The thing about decisions is that although they impact our future, we can only ever make them in the here and now.
Of course, you’re bound to consider how it’s going to affect your life moving forward.
But the truth is that there is no way to ever truly know.
You just have to trust yourself and believe that no matter what, you will always be okay.
If we get too fixated on the future, rather than using the information we have in the present, we only end up projecting and second-guessing.
Fear causes us to concern ourselves with things that are yet to happen.
But your attention must stay on how you feel right now.
Because this very moment is the only thing that exists, and the only thing you have any control over.
4) You’re worried you may not find love again
As I mentioned in the intro, there’s always a point that this fear crosses my mind during a break-up.
We all want to love and be loved. So it’s totally understandable.
At the end of my very first long-term relationship, I stayed for way too long because of these thoughts.
Without enough experience to know any better, I fixated on whether this was the best I could get and worried I was being unrealistic in my expectations.
Sure, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t that bad either. I wasn’t miserable, I just wasn’t happy either.
After having several long-term relationships break down in my life, these days when fears like this ever creep into my brain, I quickly remember:
Love always comes again.
It doesn’t matter what age you’re at or what stage you’re at in life.
You can, and will, find it again.
5) At least part of you is excited about new opportunities and a new life
Despite all the hesitancy, fear, and uncertainty that lies ahead, there’s still part of you that fantasizes about starting over too.
Maybe you have been secretly checking out other guys. You may have even had little crushes too or gotten a bit flirty.
Either way, your head has started to turn away from your partner, even if you’ve not acted on it.
This shows a clear shift in energy. It signals you aren’t completely invested in your current relationship.
Your daydreams involve visions of a fabulous new life, filled with exciting and fresh experiences.
Even if you’re not convinced you can have it, the idea is a tantalizing one.
They may be faint, but there are a few butterflies in your stomach at the thought of starting over.
Sure, they involve some nerves, but they also involve anticipation too.
6) Your love feels cozy but not fulfilling
One time when I strongly suspected a relationship was coming to an end (turns out I was right) here’s what I noticed:
My love for him and our relationship in general had altered.
He felt more like my brother than my lover.
It’s not that I suddenly hated him and we had loads of arguments. We actually had a good relationship in many ways.
But something had gone from it, and I felt the absence.
I got a warm and comforting feeling from our relationship, but one you get from being with an old familiar friend.
Now, depending on what you are looking for, that certainly doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
The reality is that we enter different stages in our romantic connections.
We cannot stay in the honeymoon period forever. If the spice has gone, you can do things to try to get it back.
But when things are no longer fulfilling, we shouldn’t ignore it.
7) If you had guarantees everything would be fine, you would leave him
Humor me for a moment:
Let’s say a magical fairy appeared one night and said to you:
“I can grant you one wish, and rest assured that no matter what you choose, all will be well”.
With the guarantee that you could leave him today and have:
- No regrets
- A good life ahead of you
- New love waiting for you in the future
Would you stay or would you go?
If these assurances would be enough to calm your fears, then it’s a sign it’s just nervousness over starting again that is really standing in your way.
8) You feel bogged down by all the practical considerations of breaking up
The more intertwined your lives become, the more you may be reluctant to shake things up.
You may live together and have joint financial commitments, like a home, bank account, mortgage, bills, furniture, etc.
You could have a shared pet and mutual friends, and you’re wondering how that would all work if you decided to split.
It all feels like a lot of hassle.
Having to divide assets, move home, and all the fallout of that stresses you out. Of course, it does.
I’ll level with you:
There is no denying that breakups, especially when we have already merged our lives together, can be very disruptive.
But that alone is not a reason to stay.
It may take some time and organizing, but all practical aspects can be sorted out.
9) Hand on heart, he’s just not what you want
You like the idea of being in a relationship with him, but less so the reality.
You wish it were different, but you have very little hope of things changing.
Maybe he does things that aren’t really good enough, you’ve tried to look past this, but you can’t.
He keeps saying he will change, but he never does.
Every little thing he does recently gives you the ick.
You have a better time when he’s not around.
When you think about a potential future together, you can’t muster up any enthusiasm or hope.
It all paints a very clear picture:
Your heart is not in it.
If you don’t have the energy or interest in working through your problems, then it is time to go.
Whatever you decide, it will be ok
Often it’s the pressure we put on ourselves that messes with our head.
It’s so easy for instincts to become muddled up with fear. Maybe your gut tells you it’s over, but your brain is arguing with it.
That’s why it can be useful to bring back some perspective.
Remind yourself that life has a way of working out.
Try not to burden yourself with thoughts that you need to have all the answers right now.
Because this only cuts you off from the part of you that already knows what to do for the best.
Take a deep breath, step back, and allow yourself to figure it out as you go along.
When you do this, you may just find the answers find you, without needing to go out and look for them.
Above all else, trust yourself, because you’ve got this.