Humans are complicated.
That’s because, to quote Melville, human nature often spins against the way it drives.
In other words, we often behave in ways that are much more likely to make us unhappy than they are to make our lives better.
You might think that people who are afraid of being alone would do everything in their power to avoid pushing others away.
But actually, that’s not the case at all.
Often, people who are afraid of being alone seem to do everything in their power to make sure they stay that way.
Here are some of the self-defeating behaviors they may use.
1) They are volatile
We all have strong feelings sometimes. But emotional volatility isn’t a good look on anyone.
However, people who are afraid of being alone often display emotional volatility. They lose control of themselves and often swing from one emotional extreme to the other.
They could be laughing one minute, and crying the next. They could be super affectionate one moment, and then suddenly become cold and distant for no apparent reason.
This can be baffling behavior, but often, it comes from a fear of being alone and having been hurt in the past.
Writer and therapist Robert Taibbi points out that a high level of anxiety can be a cause of emotional volatility in a relationship.
Fears about being alone can manifest as “always looking ahead and seeing the worst-case scenario, being rattled by sudden changes, the feeling overwhelmed and at times unable to act or decide, the over-reaction,” he writes.
Naturally, this kind of unpredictable behavior makes the person who’s afraid of being alone harder to be around. So like the rest of the behaviors on this list, this one becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
2) They don’t trust others
It’s hard to trust when we’ve been betrayed in the past. And often, people have about habit of carrying the baggage from previous relationships into new ones.
In that way, they can sabotage any chance of finding someone.
This is quite understandable. The less trustworthy people we have had in our lives, the harder it is to trust someone new. And the more we have been hurt, the more likely we are to look for the next injury coming our way.
“A person who finds it difficult to trust may not believe what other people say,” writes psychologist Kendra Cherry.
“They may feel suspicious of what others want from them and may question other people’s intentions and motivations. It makes it incredibly difficult to develop an intimate, close connection with another person.”
Unfortunately, this can often lead to bad behaviors such as spying on a partner. And these behaviors can then destroy what might’ve been a promising relationship.
Overcoming trust issues isn’t easy. But it’s essential for anyone who wants to avoid being alone.
After all, no one likes to be in a relationship where they feel like their partner doesn’t trust them. And sooner or later, that lack of trust can torpedo any relationship you have.
3) They sabotage relationships
It might seem weird that someone who is afraid of being alone would sabotage a relationship that can prevent them from being lonely. But it happens a lot.
And the worst part is, a person may not even realize that this is what they are doing.
Often, self-sabotaging behaviors come from the unconscious. They are created by our fears of being alone or being abandoned.
In other words, because somebody is always expecting the relationship to end, they may work to bring that end about – without even realizing that’s what they are doing.
“Much of the reasoning behind someone self-sabotaging a relationship has to do with an individual’s attachment style,” says psychotherapist Madeline Cooper.
We often develop our attachment style in response to the way our parents raise us in our earliest years.
People with an anxious attachment style are afraid of rejection. But paradoxically, this can lead them to projecting their fears and insecurities onto their partner.
4) They avoid being vulnerable
Being vulnerable is scary. In fact, in many ways, it’s the hardest part of having a fulfilling relationship.
When we open ourselves up to others, we also open ourselves up to pain. And if we have been hurt in the past, it becomes that much harder to allow ourselves to be vulnerable around others.
But not being vulnerable can be even more dangerous.
When we hold ourselves back and shut our partners out of our emotional lives, we tell them that we don’t trust them enough to be vulnerable around them.
And by trying to protect ourselves, we prevent a partner from really getting to know us and understand us the way we truly are.
Over time, this can poison a relationship. Not sharing who you really are with your partner can make them and you feel isolated and lonely, and sooner or later, the relationship heads for the rocks.
5) They try to control others
Another way people who are scared of being alone sabotage themselves is by trying to control the people that they get into relationships with.
Afraid that the other person will leave, they may try to make it difficult or impossible.
Examples of controlling behavior include:
- Isolation from friends and family
- Monitoring and checking in
- Financial control
- Making threats
- Jealousy and accusations
These are all terrible things to do to anybody, but especially to someone you care about.
Unfortunately, people who are afraid of being alone often can’t help themselves. They mistakenly think that by controlling the behavior of a person, they can stop them from leaving.
The reality is, they make it more likely that the other person will finally leave once they get tired of being controlled, and they will be left alone all over again.
6) They become perfectionists
I’m not advising anyone to settle.
But I am gently reminding you that there are no perfect people out there.
And if you wait for a perfect person to come along and complete you in every way, you’ll be alone forever.
The thing is, people who are afraid of being alone often ensure they remain alone by having unrealistic standards. They look for a perfect partner who checks every box on some impossible list, and when they can’t find that in the real world, they give up.
In this way, they protect themselves from the pain of rejection. By telling themselves that no one meets up to their impossible standards, they avoid having to face the hard work that even the best relationship inevitably requires.
7) They are overly critical of others
Similar to perfectionism, people who are afraid of being alone but push others away will often be excessively critical of others.
This makes it hard for them to find a suitable partner because they only focus on the negative aspects of everybody’s personality.
After all, focusing on everybody’s flaws gives them an excuse to push people away.
Afraid of getting into a relationship only to lose it, they try to protect themselves by being excessively critical so that they never have to engage in a real and meaningful relationship.
8) They avoid deep conversations
When you’re afraid of being alone, you can become terrified of having people leave. Not only can this make you reluctant to be emotionally vulnerable, but it often leads to avoiding any meaningful topic of conversation.
People who are afraid of being hurt do everything they can to protect their emotions. Sometimes, that means hiding their feelings and avoiding talking about those emotions.
This can happen not only in their romantic relationships but may also happen with friends and family.
Unfortunately, this only adds to the problem. After all, being lonely doesn’t necessarily mean not being around other people.
Loneliness comes from not being able to connect meaningfully with others.
By avoiding deep conversations that might make them emotionally vulnerable, these people ensure that they are always alone, even when they are surrounded by others.
9) They are quick to leave
Often, a fear of being alone motivates people to stay in relationships that they probably shouldn’t because it seems better than the alternative.
But sometimes, not wanting to be alone can actually cause people to end relationships prematurely.
More than a fear of being alone, this comes from a fear of being left. Trying to avoid the pain of having someone they care about leave them, these people decide that is better to be the one who leaves.
That means they may end relationships for silly or superficial reasons. Instead of working through difficult issues, they will simply walk out of the relationship, thinking that that way, they can avoid getting hurt.
Unfortunately, it’s not true. Leaving someone you care about is often less painful than having them leave you.
When a relationship fails, there are no winners. And sometimes, bailing on a relationship too early can be just as bad as leaving too late.
Self-sabotage in relationships
The fear of being alone can make people act in strange ways. And sometimes, the behaviors it encourages are the ones most likely to ensure a person ends up alone.
Keep an eye out for these behaviors, whether in yourself or in people you know. Because often, our fears of what might happen end up virtually ensuring it will.