I’ll Never Find Someone and be Happy, and Other Myths
Ahhhhh, the allure of “finding someone.” It’s akin to finding a winning Powerball ticket on the ground. How many times have I heard friends, coworkers, the ladies at the next table on whom I’m eavesdropping say, “If I could just find someone…” or “Why can’t I find someone?” or “I just want to find someone and be happy.” But there’s the rub. We’re equating “finding someone” with happiness and at the same time saying that we can’t be happy unless/until we find someone. Why is it that we want to find someone so badly in the first place? Well, yes, it’s because we think it will make us happy, but there’s more to it than that. It’s also because we’re afraid to be alone. We may be okay being alone for a few weeks or a few months or even a few years, but for decades? Or the rest of our lives? This is something we can’t fathom. We’re afraid. But why?
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – FDR
A lot of the things human beings do on a daily basis are fear-based. You brush your teeth every day because you’re afraid of getting a cavity or needing a root canal. You eat right and exercise because you’re afraid of being overweight or getting a disease. You lock your car and your house because you’re afraid that they’ll get broken into if you don’t. It’s not that you dwell on these fears necessarily or that they hang over your head every day of your life, but you started developing habits to counteract these fears at a young age. Your parents taught you to brush your teeth, eat your broccoli, and secure your things, so that you wouldn’t suffer some sort of ill effect from not doing so. These fears serve their purpose, of course.
What if you were absolutely positive that no matter what you did or didn’t do, you’d never get a cavity or need dental work, always be thin, in shape and disease free, and would never have anything stolen from you? Woo hoo! You’d never have to worry about whether or not you locked the front door while sitting on the plane ready to take off and you could go hog wild on the donuts every damn day! You’d probably still brush your teeth, though, cuz fuzzy teeth are kinda gross, cavities or no cavities. But what I’m getting at is that there’s no way you can be positive that nothing bad is going to happen to you, so you take precautions by your everyday habits to do your best to ensure that you protect yourself from harm.
“All by myself, don’t wanna be, all by myself” – Eric Carmen
The fear of being alone is something that has been instilled in you from a very young age, as well, and may even be something that’s instinctual. If a baby is left alone, how is it going to eat or get its diaper changed or be held and comforted? Babies have an instinctual method of calling their care-givers to them when they have an issue that needs to be addressed and this method usually gets the care-givers to come arunnin’. Crying is their method of ensuring that they won’t be left alone for too long. As we grow older and are able to start taking care of our own basic needs, the need to not be alone then turns into a social one. We feel sorry for the child eating by himself at the lunch table. We decide to miss out on the movie because we can’t find anyone to go with. We feel bad when we don’t get invited to the birthday party. Our parents may even say things like, “If you’re not nicer to people then you won’t have any friends and you’ll be all alone,” or “You say you hate your sister, but imagine if she weren’t here, you’d be all alone.” The idea of being alone, then, not only brings up unpleasant feelings, but is downright terrifying!
Our family, friends, and society in general also feed our fear of being alone by placing in front of us the expectation that we not wind up alone when we grow up. Your parents likely talked to you about growing up, getting married and having a family. It wasn’t presented as an option, it’s just how it was supposed to be. Your friends started dating people because that’s what they were supposed to do and you probably started dating people, too. All around you were images of happy couples and happy families, not happy people alone. In fact, I’m willing to bet that no parent has ever said to their child, “I want you to grow up and spend the rest of your life alone.” Because what is alone? It’s sad, it’s lonely, it’s scary, it’s most definitely undesirable. What they most likely said is something along the lines of, “I want you to grow up, “find someone,” and be happy.”
Because I said so, that’s why!
So, the idea of finding someone so that you’re not alone doesn’t really seem like a choice, does it? It’s something you’re just supposed to do. It’s something you’ve been supposed to do all along. It’s presented as the only way you’re going to be happy. And it’s supported by everything you see and experience around you. Just like brushing your teeth or eating healthy. And the thought of not complying with this expectation is tremendously fear-inducing. I’ll be sad, I’ll be lonely, I won’t be like everyone else, I’ll let down my family and friends, I’ll let down all of society for that matter, and I’ll be deemed a loser in love. I’ll be ALONE! But this isn’t really true, is it?
First of all, you’re never really alone. Alone is the researcher who goes into the Alaskan bush by himself for five years to observe the mating habits of the dwarf arctic moose. Even then, he has the moose. You are not alone. You have family, you have friends, you have coworkers, you have neighbors, you have pets! Just because you’re not in a romantic relationship doesn’t mean you’re alone. Far from it. Secondly, the fear of being alone is the same as the fear of getting a cavity or gaining weight or being robbed. It’s there to serve you, it’s been instilled in you for a long time, you should take precautions to protect yourself against it, but it’s not something you dwell on every day of your life. Recognize this fear for what it is and take precautions by enriching and enhancing the relationships you do have, including the one you have with yourself.
Overcoming the fear of being alone
We all know that “finding someone” isn’t necessarily the key to happiness. I’m guessing that we’ve all found at least one someone in the past who proved this for us. And we all know people who have “found someone” and are most definitely not happy. Understanding where our fear of being alone comes from allows us to put it into perspective and not be afraid anymore. In the same way that looking under your bed with a flashlight and seeing that truly nothing was there made you not afraid of the monsters anymore.
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