You might be surprised to hear this, but more people than you realize stay in relationships simply because they’re afraid to be completely alone.
I’ve been in this situation before, so I know how tough it can be. On the one hand, you know that something isn’t right, but on the other, you don’t want to leave because…well…you’d be even more lonely.
So, with that in mind, here are 10 signs you’re only in a relationship because you don’t want to be alone…
Now, before we fully dive in, I’d like you to read this with a completely open mind.
It might bring uncomfortable feelings to the surface, and you may feel knots or butterflies in your tummy, but it’s important that you’re honest with yourself.
But don’t worry – at the end, I’ll be providing some tips to help you through this situation.
1) You’re filling a void
So, with the above in mind, how do you really feel when you’re with your partner?
Do you crave their company simply because of how fun or loving they are?
Or do you find yourself hanging out with them simply because there’s no one else to hang out with?
Maybe a better question to consider would be: If you had an awesome group of friends who you clicked with, would you still bother hanging out with your partner?
The truth is, when we’re lonely, we’re likely to turn to anyone for company, even if our time with them isn’t particularly pleasant or inspiring.
2) You’re afraid of being alone
Does the idea of being single and alone scare the living daylights out of you?
I know how that feels, so trust me, I’m not one to judge.
But if your relationship isn’t as fulfilling as you hoped, yet you’re still in it, it could be the fear that’s stopping you from moving on with your life.
And fear is a valid emotion, one that’s normal to experience when picturing being alone.
But give it enough power, and it’ll rule your life. I had to force myself to overcome this fear by realizing that it’s better to be alone and work on enjoying my own company rather than stay with someone who doesn’t bring me true happiness.
And you can too – never underestimate yourself!
3) You make excuses for their behavior
When we stay in relationships out of loneliness, it’s common to brush off people’s red flags and bad behavior.
Think about it like this:
If you had a solid network of friends around you, and you weren’t lonely, you’d be less likely to tolerate someone who lies, cheats, or is rude.
But when you feel alone, you won’t be so quick to show them the door. Especially if you’re reliant on them for having some form of company.
4) You don’t see a future
Now, this next sign is quite telling.
Usually, when you’re loved up and can’t get enough of your partner, you naturally start making plans for the future.
But if you’re just with them out of loneliness, it’ll be hard to picture what life will be like in 5, 10, or even 15 years down the line.
You might be thinking of future career goals, buying a house, or going traveling – if your partner isn’t part of your plans, it might be time to reassess if you’re with them for the right reasons.
5) Lack of emotional connection
Having an emotional connection goes beyond just chatting about everyday stuff. It’s about cultivating a relationship with:
- Sharing of vulnerabilities
- Shared experiences
- Shared values
So, even if you feel like you’re coasting along fine in your relationship, ask yourself, does it have emotional depth?
If not, it could be that you’re with them simply to stifle the loneliness. Especially if you just feel like you’re going through the motions and never actually diving deep into each other’s waters.
6) You don’t share common interests
Another sign you’re only in a relationship because you’re lonely is if you have absolutely nothing in common.
Don’t get me wrong – your partner doesn’t need to be a carbon copy of you.
But there should be some mutual activities that you enjoy doing together. Without that, perhaps you’re only with them to have some company, rather than to build memories that’ll last a lifetime.
7) You feel lonely even when you’re together
Now this next point is pretty sad…
When I was in my 20s, I was in a relationship for a couple of years. I know now that I stayed because of loneliness (most of my friends had moved away).
Even though we saw each other pretty much every day, I’d often feel misunderstood and alone.
Time and maturity have taught me that I was missing that emotional connection (as I mentioned above).
Now, my husband is out pretty much most of the day and we’re lucky if we get time to hang out during the week.
But I’ve never once felt lonely, even when he’s not around – that just goes to show, the right relationship will alleviate feelings of loneliness, not exacerbate them.
8) You settle for less
Deep down in your gut feeling, do you feel like you’re settling for less than you’re worth?
Look, we’re never going to find someone completely perfect, so we all “settle” in a way (my husband, for example, is stubborn. Do I love it? No. But he’s so great in other ways, I can accept this trait of his).
But if your partner fundamentally isn’t fulfilling your needs or desires, or they treat you without dignity or respect, it’s time to think about whether you’re with them out of love or just fear of being alone.
9) You find yourself fantasizing about an ideal relationship
If you’re settling for less and feeling unfulfilled in the relationship, you could end up daydreaming about being in a “better” relationship.
Even if you’ve got a nice partner, if you’re only with them because you’re lonely, you may still fantasize about meeting someone who you truly click with.
This was true for me – my ex wasn’t a bad guy. But I often found myself wondering what it’d be like to meet someone who sparks my curiosity for life and who I’d fall head over heels for.
Is this something you find yourself doing?
10) You don’t feel like you can be yourself
The final sign that you’re only in a relationship because you’re lonely is if you don’t feel like you can be 100% yourself.
Perhaps you feel drained from always having to put on a happy front, or you feel like you have to constantly meet your partner’s expectations (without factoring in your own).
This could indicate that you’re only staying with them because you’re afraid of being alone.
Otherwise, why wouldn’t you leave?
Here’s the thing to remember – it’s far better to be alone and authentic, than with someone but unable to be your true self!
So, we’ve covered 10 signs you’re only in a relationship because you’re lonely. If the signs above resonated with you, you might be thinking, “Yikes…What do I do now?”
Don’t worry, here are a few steps to consider:
What to do next
Loneliness is something most people experience at some point in their life. Remember that when you feel like there’s something wrong with you (trust me, there isn’t!).
But instead of relying on a partner to overcome feelings of loneliness, my advice is to work on yourself and build up fulfilling relationships outside of your love life.
Because relying on a partner to make you happy can lead to codependency, and that’s a cycle you don’t want to fall into.
Here are a few ways to feel less lonely:
- Join a class: From book clubs to yoga or spinning classes, this is a great way to get out and meet people. Not to mention, the exercise will boost your mood and increase positivity.
- Get proactive: Friends don’t appear out of nowhere. But there are now plenty of meetup groups in most cities and towns. Don’t be afraid to reach out and see if someone fancies meeting for a coffee – I’ve met many great friends this way!
- Reconnect with old friends: You might find it easier to pick up an old friendship that grew apart, and sometimes, it’s just nice to reconnect with people from your past.
- Get involved in a community project: Volunteering is a great way to connect with others in your local area.
- Learn how to enjoy your own company: Take yourself out for walks, date nights, and even solo travel. Become best friends with yourself and you’ll never feel alone again.
- Consider a pet: Animals make for great companions – they’re not judgemental, they’re easy to be around, and they definitely lessen the sting of loneliness! But only consider this option if you’re ready to take on this responsibility – a pet is for life.
Ultimately, jumping into the unknown can be scary. You might feel comfortable with your partner, but if you’re only with them so you avoid being alone, you’re missing out!
You deserve love. Real love. And you deserve to be with someone who you actually enjoy being around.
Start with the tips above. Think long and hard about whether this relationship is right for you.
And if it isn’t – don’t be afraid to start afresh. You never know what amazing experiences and people could be waiting right around the corner!