A Divorced Girl Smiling Facebook Group member posted this question: Is anyone else scared of being alone after divorce? I am terrified. I was married for thirty years – was living separate in the same house as my ex for a year but physically separated in May.
I ended up falling into a relationship by accident with an old high school boyfriend on Facebook in June. Six months later and I know I need to break it off – I’m nowhere near ready to be in a relationship, but I’m scared of being alone after divorce. The thought of being totally alone, especially with Covid (where I live, we are in code red and aren’t allowed to see anyone outside our own home) terrifies me. I am so emotionally fragile that I’m scared of how I will feel all alone.
Here’s my advice for those scared of being alone after divorce:
If you are scared or even terrified of being alone, whether it’s during Covid or not, that’s a pretty normal feeling, especially being newly separated or divorced. Most of us at one time or another have felt very alone and lonely and fear a future with more of that. So, let’s start with you accepting that you are having those feelings and understanding that those feelings, particularly in your situation, are perfectly normal and understandable.
Let’s also define the difference between being alone and lonely.
They are different. Very different. It seems like you might be aligning them together and adding to your own fears. Being alone is a state of being and we will all periodically be alone-married people, single people, divorced people, everyone. Whether you choose to be alone or not, you can certainly choose whether you are lonely and what to do about that loneliness.
Lonely is a feeling versus a state of being and thus we have the power and the opportunity to manage that feeling.
Are you currently alone? It sounds like you might be physically alone due to your divorce and/or due to Covid. That is your current state of being but it is not your feelings. Are you currently lonely? It actually doesn’t sound like you are at this point but rather that you are afraid of being lonely. You are letting your fear of the future dictate your current emotional well-being and that is also totally normal but not very helpful at all.
What if you accepted your aloneness and chose whether you were lonely or not? What would it look like to think of your alone time as an opportunity to get to know yourself and to find ways to meet others in the time of Covid? What if you embraced this unusual and challenging time as your time to learn to be alone but not lonely?
What if you were able to find your own power and confidence during this time without having to be in relationships that might not be beneficial for you? Loneliness is a state of mind and you get to choose your mindset. I challenge you to rethink it and to also realize that Covid is temporary.
Now let’s look at this “accidental” relationship of yours. Let me challenge you on that one, we can accidentally run into someone or accidentally fall on ice but we don’t accidentally end up in a relationship. I know that sounds a bit snarky but I’m saying it with affection and concern.
Do you want to be in this relationship? You are saying that you aren’t ready for a relationship and that may be true but let’s unwind this situation so that you can decide what you want to do instead of accidentally doing something.
Why aren’t you ready for a relationship? Make a list of why that is. Do you want to get clear about your past relationship? Find yourself? Spend time developing other aspects of your life? Or are you “shoulding” on yourself because you think you shouldn’t be in a relationship?
Are you listening to the advice of others but not getting clarity on what you really want? Think carefully about why you are in a relationship and what you want to do with that, and other, relationships in the future. If you are staying so that you won’t be lonely, how likely is it that that relationship will be a healthy, fulfilling one in the long run?
Anytime we make life choices from a place of fear, we are unlikely to make healthy conscious choices about ourselves or our relationships. Spend time releasing the fear of the future and of the feeling of loneliness and instead embrace the opportunity of an exciting future. A future that isn’t filled with accidental relationships but rather with relationships that you have chosen to engage in and that enhance your life today and in a post Covid world. I wish you all the best!
Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D., CPC is a professional certified life and executive coach, psychologist, and professional speaker. She helps people tackle that “One day I’ll do this and then I’ll be happy” goal, today. You can reach Lisa at Lisa@lisakaplin.com or lisakaplin.com
Like this article? Check out, “20 Things I Wish I Could have Told My Newly Separated Self”