I have quite a number of hang-ups about my romantic relationships. Frankly, enough to put a few therapist’s children through college.
And, no, it isn’t about my ex — other than to be yet another clue about why I stuck around so long.
It comes down to a fear of being alone. But it is a very specific kind of being alone: only romantic loneliness.
As an ambivert, there are times when I need to be alone, and times I need to be around people. And I’m good with that. I don’t have a lot of fear about friends and family.
On the other hand, I have huge insecurities and fear of being a single person. Sadly, that fear was one of the key factors in why I stayed for such a long while with my ex-husband. and I’m not the only one in the world with that fear or that reason for staying in the unhealthy relationship.
Thing is, my insecurities are just that — mine. They aren’t something for someone else to fix. Can certain behaviors and choices by a romantic partner lead to triggering those insecurities? Of course! Those insecurities were programmed by certain behaviors and choices by a past relationship (or set of relationships). But just because a partner in the past screwed up, does not mean that this partner is doing the same thing from the same motivation.
It is very important to discuss your insecurities with your partner(s), not to make them walk on eggshells around you, but to let you see what causes the trigger so you can re-evaluate that response (and hopefully, deprogram it).
There’s another issue relating to this fear. There is a cultural imperative that single people (particularly single women) are inferior if they hit a certain age and have no lover and no children. We have become the social pariah for our lack. Even divorced women get tarred with that brush (worse if they never had kids).
At least for my generation, the whole Superwoman syndrome meant thIt’at only IF you do it all (with no mistakes, mind you) perfectly (kids, career, husband/partner), would you then be a success. See how well that worked for us??
There’s an article that I read, shortly after I asked for the divorce. It resonated with me very strongly. It made the choices relating to my marriage completely clear. I did love my ex-husband, and there might be a little of that love left. But unlike what Disney shows us, love isn’t ever enough.
A relationship requires compatibility. This doesn’t mean you have to be joined at the hip, or like all of the same things as your partner. But, for long lasting relationships, there has to be some amount of give and take.
Love won’t make your fears go away. We come into every relationship with baggage on our backs (yes, even that first puppy love). Only we can look at those fears, and choose not to feed them. No relationship will magically waft a wand over you and poof away your fears and issues. You have to face that particular dragon on your own.
Love can mean sacrifice. But the reality of the relationship means that if the sacrificing is only a one-way street, it is doomed. Broken boundaries, broken promises, these all kill a relationship.