Have you been in a relationship for a long time? Do you find yourself not sure what singlehood would even feel like anymore? If you love being in a relationship and you're happy, then that's amazing! You don't have to remember every experience that's part of your past, or else I'd be reliving my second-grade school bus every day (shudder). But sometimes, if you haven't been single in ages and you're not sure about your relationship, you might find yourself asking: Am I happy in my relationship or afraid to be single? To answer that question, I got the expert scoop.
If you find that you're happy to be with your partner, but also happy to be without them, you probably genuinely enjoy being in a relationship. "You enjoy being with your partner, but your ability to be happy in life is not utterly dependent upon being with your partner," Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples therapist in Los Angeles, tells Elite Daily. Similarly, if you don't feel the need to hide anything from your partner, you are likely to be genuinely happy in the relationship. "One sign that you love your relationship is that you can be your true authentic self with your partner," Dr. Brown says. So, if you're happy with yourself when you're alone and when you're with your partner, you are probably content.
Jumping between relationships often can be a sign that you're afraid to be single. However, it could also mean you're meeting people you like and exploring relationships. So, how do you know if you're seeking constant relationships out of fear of singlehood or because you want to? "You almost never look forward to having some 'me time,' Dr. Brown says, "The idea of just being by yourself is something you reject. You can’t imagine that it could be fulfilling and enjoyable to go to a movie by yourself, have a nice meal by yourself, or take a walk just by yourself." If you fear any time spent alone and seek one relationship right after the next, it could point to a fear of being single. Still, it could also mean that you're extroverted and become energized around other people, but it is worth thinking about why you don't like solitude. Looking inward at what you truly want could tell you if you feel happy in your relationship.
Another key sign that you might be afraid to be single is if you're worried about ending the relationship, even though you'd like to. "If one is too afraid to terminate an unhealthy and toxic relationship when he/she is well aware of the manipulative patterns, that’s a clear indicator one is afraid to be single," Author and Relationship Expert Alexis Nicole White tells Elite Daily. If you have been thinking of breaking up with your partner for a long time, or you believe the relationship is toxic, you might be afraid to leave out of a fear of being single. If this is you, you're absolutely not alone. But if you find yourself in a toxic or abusive relationship, the best option is to seek help to find a way out of it. Resources for ending an abusive relationship include the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the United Way, which has a hotline and info online). You deserve better than to be in a relationship you want to get out of.
It's also possible to be happy in a relationship and afraid to be single at the same time. "I believe that the vast majority of people want to share their lives with someone," Dr. Brown says. "The data is clear that those who are in healthy relationships tend to be happier and they also tend to live longer. So, you can certainly be happy in a relationship, but if you are staying in the relationship solely to avoid being single, then you may be putting too much psychological pressure on your partner to save you from feeling lonely." Just make sure a fear of being single isn't the primary motivator for staying in the relationship — it's OK to prefer having a partner over being single, but it's a problem if you find the relationship toxic, and you stay anyway out of fear of being single.
It can be tough to tell why you're in a relationship. Is it that your partner has an extra parking spot, or that you're in love, or both? It's completely normal to be afraid of being single, but you deserve to be in a relationship that brings you joy. If you've found that you are happy in your relationship, congratulations, and take advantage of the parking spot! And if not, don't worry — there are amazing things out there for you, and honestly, Uber is way easier than having to park.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.