In the first part of the article I wrote about how to identify people who are afraid of spending time alone, where their fear comes from and how they can behave in a relationship.
Now you can read about how the partner of such a person might react to this within a relationship, what the friendship dynamics are for these people, what behaviors they might have as parents and how to break this pattern.
How does their partner react to their behavior in the relationship?
In my experience, there are two distinct versions. One option is that this person’s partner is very keen on accepting that there is someone for whom they are the most important, that there is someone who depends on them. In such a case, he or she may specifically demand that they spend every minute together. Both of them wish to be together and only the two of them all the time, in every minute of the day, against the world. And so, they slowly become isolated from the outside world, from other people. Which in the long run will certainly not have good consequences.
Ferenc Pál (a Hungarian priest and mental health specialist) said the following once in a speech of his and it has just come now to my mind (I am not quoting it word-by-word):
“Alcoholism is a balanced state. A person has anxiety, due to which they drink, which dissolves the anxiety. It doesn’t solve the root cause of the anxiety, but it does provide a temporary superficial solution. It is a balanced state. It’s not healthy, but it’s a balance.”
Now this dependence on others is something like that. You are anxious about being alone, so you become dependent on other people – let it be your partner, your friends, your parents, your extended family, etc. It doesn’t solve the root cause of your anxiety. The root cause should be explored and resolved through inner work, which would then enable these people to spend time alone. But instead, they apply the superficial solution and push themselves into dependency and addiction. Being addicted to human connections.
So, within a relationship, if one’s partner is also involved in this addiction game, this unhealthy balance is created. Which is like alcoholism. Addiction. It just shows up in a different way.
The other option for the partner’s reaction might be that they start to feel choked in the situation. They may feel that they become overwhelmed. Or they can feel that they can’t breathe because the other person is constantly clinging on them. They may feel more and more frustrated and tense because of the complete loss of their alone-time. Even if they communicate this need to their partner, it doesn’t really change things. This can lead to ongoing arguments and tension between the two of them. One wants to move away, the other one is constantly running and jumping after them. Non-stop.
There are two possible solutions to this situation. Either the person who is afraid of spending time alone realizes that they really need to make space for their partner, in the form of alone-time, or the relationship will end. Well, a third option comes to my mind now. They stay together as they are. Suffering and arguing through a lifetime without either of them realizing what other options could be for this situation. Sadly, I see many examples of this as well…
What behaviors can be observed within a friendship?
It is also possible that as soon as this person gets into a relationship (and through this into the desired symbiosis), they forget the friends who have been so important before. After all, this person already has the partner and doesn’t need any other company. A nice ghosting of friends.
This reminds me of a story. Once upon a time there was a girl who went from one turbulent relationship to another. When she was with her actual partner, friends almost ceased to exist for her. However, as soon as the relationship was getting close to its end, the girl started to contact the long-lost friends again. Then, with this transition, when the relationship eventually ended, she began to use the “social services” of her friends again. Then came the new relationship and so she was ghosting the friends again. Then that ended too, and she was back with her friends again…. And so on, round and round, in circles, never stopping.
This girl clearly didn’t recognize the harmful pattern she was running. But why was she able to run it so well? I’ll tell you.
Such people have particularly good abilities to know/sense what the other person wants. And by recognizing and using these, they are excellent at making the people around them – who they are ‘dependent’ on – believe how important they are to them.
But then the tables turn and suddenly – throwing the people they have been with into the dustbin – they start to attach themselves to someone else with full force. Wobbling to one direction and the other, as they feel the need to, because of their addiction. It’s worth bearing that in mind.
In friendships, another interesting topic might be what happens when their need for connection is not met. In other words, if you hold your own boundaries, you don’t get into the symbiotic relationship with them that they would desire, and that is not enough for them. In these cases – as a best-case scenario – it can happen that the person broadens their circle of friends and brings more people into their life.
If that doesn’t happen, they may start attacking you. That you’re not a good enough friend, you don’t pay enough attention to them, they love you so much that they want to spend more time with you, what wrong have they done to you that makes you reject them. The full range of psychological terror can be deployed in such cases. One thing you can do to protect yourself in such situations is to tell them – in an assertive but very concrete way – that you can spend only so much time with them and you cannot promise that this will change. They will either accept this or your friendship will be over.
But if this person ends the friendship because they want to spend extremely more time (the symbiotic quantity) with you and you have different needs – which they don’t take into account – is it really a good friendship?
Here again, I would call it a relationship addiction rather than a friendship based on equality and a healthy balance. It’s worth thinking about.
What kind of parental behavior mechanism will this person have, who is afraid of spending time alone?
Long story short, they will behave more or less exactly as their own parents did, due to whom they themselves are running this pattern. In everyday life, this can be seen as parents who extremely chain their child to themselves, for example, sleeping with them constantly for years instead of sleeping with their own partner, neglecting everything else but the child – let it be their partner or their own selves. Their child becomes their “partner”.
They are the parents whose child is most likely to be unable to sleep alone because of these things, or to play alone, to occupy himself or herself when awake. After all, this child has learned that Mom/Dad is always there at all times, so he/she doesn’t need to be independent.
They are the parents who do not realize that their child needs their own space as the years go by, but continue to keep them close. So, either the child will not be able to build their own individuality by giving in to this, or they will be in a constant battle with their parents, for example during their teenage years. And in these situations, again the child will take the short straw – the parents saying how disobedient, ungrateful and undisciplined the child is – in case the parents do not recognize that they (also) need to change their behavior mechanism.
And if that parent has a second child, they will turn to the second child with the same chained dependency. And the first child is likely to experience a significant shift in the parental focus and attention towards them. This first child will not understand why this big change happened. Before, this child was getting all the attention and now (almost) all the attention goes to the little sibling. If the parent’s attachment to the first child had been of a healthy degree and quality, the first child would have suffered less because of this change when the little one was born. However, since the 150% of attention the first child received before is now only 50% (in a best-case scenario), the difference is too huge for them. Hence the tantrums, the anger issues, the illnesses, whatever it takes for them to get attention of the parents.
And if this parent doesn’t recognize the harmful patterns that they bring from their own parents, from their own childhood and runs them with their children, they will pass all of these over to their own children. And then these children can carry it on, or perhaps leave it behind with deep inner work, in case they recognize the burden of it.
How can you let go of the fear of being alone?
Like everything else, it’s also an inner work process. It requires persistence, patience, awareness and consistency. Appreciate the small steps, every little improvement! And if you take these small steps one after the other, believe me, you will reach the final solution!
If you want to work on this by yourself, start small. What is the maximum amount of time you have been able to spend alone? Now let it be a little more! Then tomorrow or next week, a little more. Keep raising the stakes, get used to the new situation and then move forward. Look at the areas of your life where you are most affected and start there.
And if you can, go to a professional to explore and resolve the deeper psychological side of it. It’s very important that awareness is the key first step – to know from where this way of functioning has come to your life, to your belief system. But that’s not all. It is not the end of the journey. Once you have the awareness, you have to remove the blockage, get rid of that burden. A professional can also help you with this. Once these patterns and blockages are gone, you will be more and more able to spend time alone, and what’s more, you will even enjoy it. Well, not in the first 2 weeks, but in time you will, believe me!
A related topic to this is establishing and building a real sense of security. You need to believe and feel that you are OK and safe even when you are alone. Through this, you will achieve in your life that you are not with people out of dependence or addiction, but because it is fundamentally a good thing.
It’s very important that if you find that you have a problem with spending time alone – which you may recognize through your relationship with your parents, friends, partner or through your own parenting – start to work on this as soon as possible!
It’s never too late to break the damaging pattern and improve your own life and through it your children’s lives as well!
I wish you all the best!
If you liked this list, you can find my other article compilations here.