I live in a world of doubt, dread, and a fear of being alone. I was content with being alone before I met my current guy. I had my dog and my art. I had my jobs and my running. I was all set. Then this amazing man who is pretty much perfect came into my life and showed me what a great relationship can be like. He bought me flowers. He paid for dinners. He cuddles. The sex is great. He listens to me and is there for me. He knows my darkest secrets and supports me. Everything about him is just amazing. Yet, instead of reveling in happiness that I finally found Mr. Right, I lie awake at night in tears because I feel that the end is near. Some of this assuredly has to do with the fact that we are not “official” and so while we are technically in a relationship we still haven’t had the talk where we decide we can call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. Something about that talk would establish a security, a comfort that this is real, that there are feelings, and this is something that is here to stay. Without that determination of exclusivity and commitment I am left with a constant fear that this bliss will end and I will return to being alone.
When it comes to relationships fear runs on a spectrum from the small scale feelings of doubt to the utterly painful dread. In between lie a range of fears and concerns that grow increasingly more severe. While a few weeks ago I was at mild fear and doubt I’ve now reached full blown dread–the worst of the worst. I don’t have any reason to be upset, yet I am unhappy. Not sad because of what I don’t have or because of something tangible but rather because I am making assumptions, jumping to conclusions, and generating scenarios in my head that I have no factual basis for. I have visions of him slowly phasing himself out or having a talk with me in which he tells me it’s not working out and he doesn’t feel anything. Yet, he has done nothing to foster these suspicions. This is the danger of dread and doubt where absolute nothings can become pain and heartache.
I suppose I am more susceptible to the fear spectrum because all I’ve ever really known is heartbreak. Over the past year, one guy after another has hurt me and in the course of my lifetime I’ve virtually always been the dumpee. I think I try too hard or maybe want it too badly that a relationship never really works out. For whatever reason, things have never worked out for me and 26 is slowly starting to feel like 36 and I wonder if I will ever find anyone who will stick around for the long haul. It is so hard for me to be happy when all I’ve ever known is pain and I spend my days worrying about what could happen instead of enjoying what is happening. Why this happens is a bizarre conundrum and I’m not sure of the rationale behind dread and doubt other than the influence of past experiences, the natural human fear of loneliness and need for companionship, and the socially constructed concept of “if things are too good to be true they probably are.”
Normally I am seen as the wise person who knows so much about relationships, who others come to for advice, and who can write about dating and relationships endlessly but this is a matter I struggle to understand and handle. Sure, you can focus your mind on other things like work, hobbies, and friends. You can tell yourself you only know the pure facts and not to make any assumptions. You can catch yourself in a racing thought and find a distraction or compel yourself to stop but these are all tools that are hard to physically grasp and utilize. These tactics are easier said than done and when in the throws of dread it is near impossible to talk yourself down and regain a grip on reality. If anyone has any advice or stories of their own dread, doubt, or fear of loneliness I would love to hear them so please feel free to share. I’m sure there are many people out there in the same boat also looking for advice who could use a wise word.