Being alone can be scary and sad.
It really depends on the person and why they’re alone.
Some of us deal with solitude better than others, and even thrive in it.
But when you’re afraid to be alone and fear it, there are a number of common responses.
Let’s take a look at these common reactions to the fear of being alone, and what they mean…
1) You self-censor to fit in
Self-censorship is far more common than many of us realize.
We’ve all done it at times, and it’s often out of a fear of being alone or disliked.
You have strong opinions and observations about society, politics, people or situations, but you keep them to yourself because you don’t want to rock the boat.
If you’re too loudmouthed or opinionated, you might be seen as abrasive or strange!
Best to just shut up so people think you’re easy-going and “normal…”
2) You try to fit in at all costs
Those who are afraid to be alone are obsessed with fitting in.
Humans are tribal creatures, so I don’t mean this in a disparaging way.
We all need to fit in to a certain extent:
If people did their own interpretive dances of traffic crosswalks instead of conforming to the norms of crossing the road we’d have no functioning motorways.
But if your fear of being rejected and alone dominates your thoughts and concerns then it’s definitely holding you back.
3) You agree with ideas and ideologies to be popular
A big part of worrying about fitting in is echoing the opinions and ideas of the majority.
Depending on your culture and society as well as demographic and age, this varies quite a lot.
If people you come across repeat similar narratives that sound popular then you repeat them, too.
If everybody around you seems to agree that corporate success is the real goal of life, you nod sagely and start dressing more formally.
If everyone around you seems to agree that the System is bad and only obscure punk bands and rebels get it, then you start adopting their ideas and style, too.
If you’re rich White and Asian kids at a private school full of British teachers and the other students are all blasting Tupac singing about ghetto struggles in the late 1990s, then you do it, too, even though you’ve never met a black person in your life.
Whatever will get “cool” people to like you and not reject you!
4) You become hyper-approval seeking
This hyper approval-seeking can become a genuine addiction.
You feel so scared of being ditched or found unworthy that you pretty much want to poll everyone who meets you on how many stars they’d give you.
Your worst fear isn’t really rejection, it’s indifference.
The idea that you could just fall through the cracks and not really be noticed at all terrifies you.
The horror of being ignored and never being included at all consumes you.
You need to be seen to be part of the group, valuable to the group, agreeing with those around you and being of value to them and whatever they care about.
On a related note…
5) You laugh at jokes you don’t find funny
We’ve all done this, especially in our adolescent years when out with a group of friends.
A mutual friend or colleague says something horribly unfunny or wretched and you chuckle a bit.
Because everyone else is.
But your stomach feels upside down.
Sadly this behavior can continue throughout life, motivated by a fear of being disliked.
It gets even worse when it’s due to deference to a person in authority such as your boss, a family member or an authority figure in your personal or professional life.
They crack a joke that makes you want to dive into an empty swimming pool but you find yourself grinning and chuckling regardless.
This ties directly into the next point…
6) You take the backseat and let others use you
When you’re afraid of being alone you’re much more likely to let yourself be exploited and strung along.
You become a people-pleaser in various ways and are scared to stand up for yourself.
You allow your boyfriend to keep canceling dates at the last minute and show up the minute he has time to see you…
You don’t complain at your work colleague stealing your ideas and taking credit for them, because you don’t want to ruffle feathers at your work.
7) You date people you don’t like
Being scared to be alone on the romantic level is really tough.
I think we’ve all been there, and it’s not fair to say it’s always about being insecure or not loving yourself.
Sometimes you’ve just been single for much longer than you like and are disappointed that nothing seems to pan out.
I absolutely get that!
The wrong thing to do in this case is to date people you don’t like who you don’t really connect with.
It wastes time, energy, hurts people and is dishonest to yourself and them.
Sometimes even difficult times alone are preferable to shallow times with somebody else in the long-run as you build yourself into a person of grit and character.
8) You engage in unhealthy addictions and behaviors
That feeling of being alone, either literally or emotionally and socially, leads many to chase unhealthy behaviors and addictions.
The list is long and it really makes no difference how much outer status you have.
Whether you’re unknown or a rock star, that feeling of being alone and unwanted may still dog you and bring you way down.
It can feel like just getting through the day is impossible.
So you snort that next line…
Pop that extra-strong pill you shouldn’t even have in your drawer…
Sleep with that next person…
Buy into that next cult or weird spiritual ideology that promises a final plateau of the ultimate truth to save you…
Whatever will stop this feeling that you’re spinning alone, empty and unwanted for who you truly are…
9) You block uncomfortable emotions
When you’re afraid of being alone you often try to block uncomfortable emotions.
In fact, a lot of the behaviors and responses I’ve included here are reactions to try to run away from or block the anger, sadness, confusion and loneliness that being alone too often can cause.
You don’t want to feel those emotions, especially if you feel frustrated or unsure about how to meet people you truly connect with.
Where are some real friends you actually find cool?
Where’s a girl or guy you’d actually want to get serious with?
Well, you’re not finding them, so you try to push these difficult thoughts and emotions down and do almost anything to get away from them.
On a related note…
10) You try to rationalize everything
When you’re overly emotional and in your feelings it can definitely go too far.
But some people over-compensate far too much in the opposite direction.
If this sounds a bit like you, then you’re not alone.
The tendency to rationalize everything is one of the top things people do when they’re afraid of being alone.
They deny who they are, their dreams or what they care about a thousand times as long as it means they feel accepted and not alone.
They try their best to rationalize every decision they make (no matter how bad) as long as it keeps them closer to feeling wanted and accepted.
11) You chase outer accomplishments and labels
When you don’t want to be alone you chase that outer validation.
You want to be valuable to those who seem sure of themselves and hold what you perceive to be social status and economic or social power.
Whoever’s in your orbit needs to think well of you so they don’t abandon you.
As a result, you chase those degrees, those promotions, those salary raises, those pats on the back.
You’re the man! You’re the woman!
There’s no way you’re not going to be the star of the next office party, now.
Quality over quantity
The fear of being alone makes sense to me.
We’re tribal creatures who are designed to form connections and ties, both practical and emotional.
The downside is that when we develop a toxic fear of being alone and flee from it, this often has roots in early childhood abandonment and discomfort or lack of belief in ourselves.
Indeed, solitude can be a time when you learn a lot about yourself, what drives you and what you want to accomplish in life for yourself and others.
The above reactions to being alone are, frankly, understandable!
But the key is to take that fear of being alone and channel it into becoming more authentic and empowered and thereby seeking out genuine and meaningful connections in your own life.
Enjoying the company of yourself and of other people is always more about quality than quantity!