Fear of being single is one of the strongest predictors of settling for less in a relationship, research finds.
Both men and women experience the fear of being single.
People who are very anxious about their relationships are particularly worried about being rejected.
As a result, they can put a lot of effort into a bad relationship.
While the effort increases their investment in the relationship, they are still left feeling dissatisfied.
This means the relationship has little chance of being a happy one in the long-term.
Dr Stephanie Spielmann, who led the study, said:
“Those with stronger fears about being single are willing to settle for less in their relationships.
Sometimes they stay in relationships they aren’t happy in, and sometimes they want to date people who aren’t very good for them.
Now we understand that people’s anxieties about being single seem to play a key role in these types of unhealthy relationship behaviors.”
The results come from a series of studies of hundreds of people across different age ranges.
The study showed that people who were very anxious about their relationship were low in trust but also very dependent.
However, people who acted in an avoidant way wanted to remain independent.
Professor Geoff MacDonald, study co-author, said:
“In our results we see men and women having similar concerns about being single, which lead to similar coping behaviors, contradicting the idea that only women struggle with a fear of being single.
Loneliness is a painful experience for both men and women, so it’s not surprising that the fear of being single seems not to discriminate on the basis of gender.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Gere et al., 2013).