Being Single: Is it a Fate Worse than Death?

By susanpeabody 02/16/18

I was a relationship junkie until I was 32. I never dated in high school so when I met Rudy I got involved before I knew he was abusive. After we broke up, I went from man to man so I did not have to be alone. I even neglected my children for my boyfriends.

In recovery, I dated for years and never met anyone. So I moved on to teaching and raising my children. I was single for 16 years and really happy before I finally found healthy love at the age of 56. Then my partner died and I was single again for 4 years before I met Frank.

I am not advocating being single, I am trying to point out that it is not the end of the world and it is better than ending up with the wrong person.

I tell my students that they should a create a wonderful life for themselves before they look for someone, so that they are complete whether they are single or not. I encourage them to make peace with whatever situation they are in.

"Naturally, how one hates to think of oneself alone. How one avoids it. It seems to imply rejection or unpopularity. An early wallflower panic still clings to the world. One will be left, one fears, sitting in a straight-backed chair alone, while the popular girls are already chosen and spinning around the dance floor with their hot-palmed partners. We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen...When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place. We must re-learn to be alone." (Ann Morrow Lindbergh in Women and Solitude)

For most love addicts, being single is something to be avoided at all costs. They cling to the idea that being in an intimate relationship is more important than life itself. Being single almost terrifies them because they equate it with agonizing loneliness and deprivation.

Love addicts in recovery must have a change of attitude about being single. They must accept the fact that being without a partner is not a fate worse than death. It has its advantages and disadvantages, just like a relationship, and there are times in life when it is inevitable.

Having a positive attitude about being single accomplishes several things. First of all, it allows love addicts to be comfortable when there is no one "special" in their lives. Being alone is not painful for them; it is a time of cherished solitude. Also, by accepting their single status gracefully, love addicts in recovery experience an inner confidence that actually goes a long way toward attracting the kind of emotionally stable people they might like to become involved with.

Furthermore, being content to be single allows recovering love addicts to be discriminating in their choice of a partner. They can afford to be choosey, for the first time in their lives, because being in a relationship is just an option, not a life or death matter. Finally, being satisfied with their single status makes it easier for love addicts to be patient. There is no deadline to meet, no need to frantically pursue a potential partner as if time were running out.

If they are progressing in their recovery, love addicts should be experiencing a boost in self-esteem. This, along with spirituality, should reduce their dislike and fear of being alone, and make it easier for them to adopt a positive attitude about not having a partner. This is the trick. There must be a change in attitude or values. This does not mean recovering love addicts have to be overjoyed about being single. I am talking about acceptance, not overwhelming enthusiasm. It is just important to consistently look at the bright side until this positive attitude is well entrenched in the love addict's psyche. This will then subdue the voice that wails, "You're nobody till somebody loves you."

Please note that I am not trying to establish a case for or against being single. It is just important for recovering love addicts to be comfortable with both situations. Then they can flow contentedly with life instead of frantically trying to control it.

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