People who hold onto someone because they’re afraid of being alone usually display these behaviors without realizing it

We’ve all been there, staying in a relationship for longer than we should because we don’t want to let go.

But of course, most of us only realize that we’ve done the above after the fact. As in, after they’ve broken up with us or we’ve finally broken up with them. That’s the beauty of hindsight, I suppose!

Back when I did this, I wish I’d paid closer attention to how I was behaving. Because seriously, there were some pretty obvious signs that I was only holding on out of fear of being alone!

Think you might be doing the same thing right now? Let’s find out.

1) You feel anxious when you don’t hear from them

There’s an old wife’s tale my mom used to tell me about a girl, boy, and snake.

The boy had a snake in his pocket that he hid from the girl. He feared she had a snake in her pocket, too, and that it would bite him when he got close. He never trusted her when she said she didn’t.

She never had this fear. He only had it because he was lying, so he always thought she was, too. This is projection at its finest. You think someone else feels something because of how YOU feel yourself.

Which might mean you feel anxious when you don’t hear from your partner. Why? Because you know you need to let go of them, so you live in fear that they feel the same way about you.

If you’ve always been this way, you might simply have an anxious attachment style. This is when you get “clingy” to satisfy your fear of rejection and craving for affection.

But if this is a new behavior, it’s because you have a snake in your pocket, and it’s making you think they have one, too!

2) You want to change them

When you’re unhappy in a relationship, you look for a reason why. Pointing the finger at yourself doesn’t feel good, so you tend to point it at the other person.

THEY are to blame for how you feel because THEY are the ones who do this and that that you don’t like. In reality, it’s your feelings that are to blame, not them.

Sure, they might have changed as a person a little bit and you might have grown apart. But you’ll still blame them for this. And you’ll try to change them.

You might try to make them revert to the person they used to be (since you loved that version of them). Or you might want to make this or that better in their life, so you might love them more that way.

Sadly, things don’t work that way. While you can talk through differences and come to compromises, someone can’t change the fundamentals of who they are.

They might be able to communicate with you differently or partake in something you like, but they won’t be able to become a different person so you love them more.

3) You don’t like change in your own life

When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, you get used to their company and your life together. Everything feels familiar and comfortable, and you find relief in that comfort.

At the same time, you know you should break things off. You know that things need to end, and that means an end to this familiarity you’ve gotten used to.

Unfortunately, this feeling makes your life feel like a thin piece of glass that could break at any moment!

So change, of any kind, feels like a threat. You or them changing jobs could be the thing that finally breaks you apart. Just like moving house or getting a dog could disrupt the balance enough for that glass to shatter.

Which is why you try to maintain the status quo as best as you can. Because even though you aren’t happy, you’re in familiar territory. And familiar territory is safe.

4) You feel indecisive about your life decisions

Another thing you might do when you know things need to end, but don’t want to do it, is feel indecisive about everything.

Because you’re second-guessing this decision about your relationship, you start second-guessing everything.

You wonder if you’re making the right decision by changing jobs or signing up for that new workout class.

You might question whether you really want to get another cat or change your hairstyle. You might worry whether you’re making the right decision when you do anything.

This indecisiveness might be a new thing for you when you’re questioning ending a relationship. Why? Because ending a relationship is a big decision and a huge change!

How do you know if you’re making the right decision? How do you know if you’ll find someone better? How do you know if you’ll be happier alone than with this person?

These fears and questions are normal, especially since ending things is irreversible. Even if you change your mind, the other person will never trust you the way they did.

But that isn’t a good reason to cling on. Ending things will be hard, but it’s the right thing to do – for you and for them. And I can promise you, there is better out there!

5) You struggle to do things alone

relationship feels dull and predictable People who hold onto someone because they're afraid of being alone usually display these behaviors without realizing it

Some people struggle with being alone because they’re an extrovert and gain energy from being around others. But even if you’re an extrovert, you should feel comfortable being alone sometimes!

You shouldn’t only go places if someone else goes with you. You shouldn’t fear going to the mall, a coffee shop, or even out with your family alone.

When you start feeling this way, you might have become codependent on your partner, and two reasons could be behind this.

One, you might be running from the thoughts you have when you’re alone. You know you need to let go of this person but don’t want to face the facts. So you try to hold on to them and stay together as much as you can.

The second reason is that you lack self-esteem. You don’t like who you are or don’t feel confident in yourself, so being alone scares you. You don’t feel like you can do these things alone, so you’d rather do them with someone you know isn’t good for you than do them alone.

As someone who felt this way once, I can promise you that you’re capable of a lot more than you think – completely by yourself, too!

6) You like to control as much as you can

No one likes feeling out of control of their life. I know I hate it when I feel like everything I’ve built is crumbling down and there’s nothing I can do!

If you know you need to let go of someone, your life can feel like it’s falling apart. You don’t know why your feelings or theirs have changed, and you don’t like it.

So you adopt fear-based controlling behaviors to keep an order on things. You might try to manage their life and where they go. You might try to take over their habits, hobbies, friendships, or even their career.

You might blame how you feel on them, like how they don’t go to the gym or see their friends on the weekends, and try to get them to do something else instead.

Your feelings of control might start extending to other people, too. You might feel like you need to step in and take responsibility for the things your friends or family do.

This behavior is usually unconscious, and it’s typical for someone who feels out of control of their own life and their own feelings.

7) You overly defend your relationship

Getting defensive is another subconscious behavior you might engage in when you know you need to let go, but don’t want to be alone just yet.

Why? It’s because your thoughts scare you. The idea of ending things feels scary and unfamiliar, and it’s something you want to hide until you’ve made up your mind.

When you think someone is “onto you” and how you feel, you feel threatened. So what do you do? You get defensive.

If someone says something casual about your partner, you take it as a criticism and get overly protective.

When your partner asks a question, you fear they’re asking you because they know how you feel, so you overreact to it.

Basically, you get defensive all of the time! Sometimes, you even confuse yourself with how you’re thinking, acting, and behaving.

Final thoughts

Letting go of someone you love is never easy. Yet sometimes it’s necessary.

Whether it’s a partner, friend, or even a family member, there are times when your life might be better off without them than with them.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Some relationships just aren’t meant to last forever. That doesn’t mean they didn’t mean anything to you. It just means it’s time to let go.

Holding on when you know you need to let go is only going to do you more harm, like when you start displaying some of these behaviors.

The longer you leave it, the more it’ll hurt them when it ends, too…

Picture of Amy Reed

Amy Reed

Amy Reed is a content writer from London working with international brands. As an empath, she loves sharing her life insights to help others. When she’s not writing, she enjoys a simple life of reading, gardening, and making a fuss over her two cats.

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