You don’t laugh much anymore, if at all. Arguments are no longer about solving problems but about seeing how far you can push the other person. The love is gone and you want out.
Your friends tell you to leave. Your family tells you to leave. And if you’re being completely honest with yourself, even you know you should leave. But there’s a problem – you just can’t.
For whatever reason, you’ve convinced yourself that remaining in your toxic relationship, clinging to the hope that things will improve, is your best option. And here’s why: it’s your fear of being alone.
A study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found the fear of being lonely and single is enough to drive people to stay in bad relationships, or with less-than-desirable partners, because they’d rather have someone than no one.
First, the researchers set out to find if the fear of being alone is common. Of 153 participants, 40 per cent responded that their greatest fear was not having a long-term partner.
Then the researchers analysed how this fear affects behaviour within a romantic relationship. The responses given by thousands of participants revealed people opted to stay in unhealthy relationships, or with partners they were no longer in love with, due to a fear of being alone.
“During relationship initiation and maintenance, those who fear being single may prioritise relationship status above relationship quality, settling for less responsive and less attractive partners, and remaining in relationships that are less satisfying,” the study authors wrote.
“Now we understand that people’s anxieties about being single seem to play a key role in these types of unhealthy relationship behaviours,” researcher Stephanie Spielman says.