How to Cure Your Fear of Being Alone

Boundaries in Dating“Just call him and tell him that it is over,” I (Dr. Cloud) said to Marsha. I had listened to her for months now about her dating relationship with Scott and how she could not stand some of his hurtful patterns. And I was getting both concerned and tired of her denial of the kind of person that he really was. I began to push her.

So she decided to do it. She called him and broke it off. As expected, he went crazy and showed up at her door begging for her to not go through with it. There were all sorts of promises of change and the usual things that people in denial say when threatened with loss of love. But she held her ground. At least for a day.

Two days later, Marsha called and canceled her next appointment. I called her back and found out the truth. She had gone back to Scott and was ashamed to tell me. I told her to come in anyway so we could talk about it.

As Marsha talked, I felt for her. She described the depression and aloneness that she went into when she broke it off and held her ground. She felt as if she were in a black hole that she could not see out of, and she felt completely hopeless. It was really a dangerous state.

No one who knew Marsha would have suspected her inner agony. She was a strong person in the business world, a committed Christian, and a ministry leader in her church. Everyone loved her, and no one would have thought that she would put up with someone like Scott, or that she could be so devastated by breaking up with such a jerk. But the breakup had left her so sad that she could barely function.

As we worked on Marsha’s feelings, we found that there was a very deep part of her that felt very much alone and unloved, and breaking up with Scott was bringing out a deep aloneness that normally she did not experience. And, as we began to look at her history, she avoided experiencing this internal aloneness by dating men. Each time she would end one relationship, there would be another one, even though they would not be men that she would want to be with long-term. She just could not stand to be alone. And so, her fear of being alone kept her from having boundaries with bad relationships. She would rather give in to a bad relationship than have no relationship at all.

This is a key point about boundaries in dating. If you do any of the following, then you might be giving up boundaries because of a fear of being alone:

  • Putting up with behavior that is disrespectful
  • Giving in to things that are not in accord with your values
  • Settling for less than you know you really desire or need
  • Staying in a relationship that you know has passed its 
  • Going back into a relationship that you know should be 
  • Getting into a relationship that you know is not going 
  • Smothering the person you are dating with excessive 
needs or control

And surely there are other signs as well. But the point is, your aloneness makes you get involved in relationships that you know are not going to last. It also keeps you from being alone long enough to grow into a person who does not have to be in a relationship in order to be happy. There is a very important rule in dating and romance: To be happy in a relationship, and to pick the kind of relationship that is going to be the kind you desire, you must be able to be happy without one.

If you must be dating or married in order to be happy, you are dependent, and you will never be happy with whatever person you find. The dependency will keep you from being selective enough to find the kind of person who will be good for you, or will keep you from being able to fully realize a relationship with a healthy person. If you are afraid of aloneness and abandonment, you cannot use the love of people who are truly there until you deal with your own fears.

So, aloneness must be cured first, and this is a good boundary for dating. Here is the boundary: In order to cure your fear of being alone, you need to put a boundary around your wish for a relationship. Cure that fear first, and then find a relationship. How do you cure your aloneness without a dating relationship?

First, strengthen your relationship with God. Make him your first priority so that you are not trying to get God needs met by a relationship with a person.

Second, strengthen your relationships with safe, healthy Christians. Make sure that you are not trying to get your people needs met by a dating relationship, or by God. Yes, you need God. But you also need people.

The best boundary against giving in to bad relationships, less-than-satisfactory relationships, or bad dynamics in a good relationship is your not needing that relationship. And that is going to come from being grounded in God, grounded in a support system, working out your issues, having a full life, and pursuing wholeness. If you are doing those things, you will not be subject to saying yes when you should be saying no.


For more great advice to help you avoid bad dating situations and build a great relationship, read Boundaries in Dating. Click here to learn more.

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  1. Heid says

    You stated that when we get grounded in God and surround with safe people this will stir us away from bad relationships. I feel I do this but continue to feel the loneliness . I really need to read this book. I have been dealing with a man for the last 3 years that won’t let go. I don’t see him but he still says he loves me even though I know it’s not true.

    • Lisa says

      It’s good to practice feeling and tolerating yucky feelings. When we stay with someone unhealthy, sometimes it’s really that we don’t want to feel those feelings. If we feel them, nothing will happen really, we will just not enjoy how we feel. We can get better at ‘sitting with’ the feelings and making friends with them instead of avoiding or pushing them down. It’s a mindfulness concept.

  2. Linda says

    After 20+ years being a bible-believing, church-going, Jesus-worshiping Christian, I STILL have problems in relationships with men. I am actually angry at God that He hasn’t fixed this in me! He said all things are possible with Him, etc., and yet here I am making the same mistakes I made as an unbeliever. For crying out loud.

    I started attending CODA, a 12-step program that attacks this issue at the source: me and my codependency. This is my only chance.

    There are plenty of dysfunctional men in the church who love Jesus, but I don’t want one of those, either. Yet if he’s unavailable emotionally, I gravitate straight to him. I’ve had it. I am happy by myself and I love my life, but nothing makes me sad faster than another crummy relationship with a man. So instead of deciding to give up and be alone forever, I’m going to CODA. Church and Jesus did not fix this problem. I’m sure that’s not what anyone wants to hear, but that is this believer’s truth.

    • Paula says

      Maybe CODA is God’s answer to your prayer to “fix” this.

      I’ve learned very recently that something I’ve wanted God to fix for years couldn’t be fixed as I was wanting it to be because what I saw was a symptom, not the actual problem. I’ve come to understand the big picture now and see what the real problem is, and wow, the situation is COMPLETELY different from what I had thought. If God had fixed this the way I’d expected Him to, I would not have been able to address the root issues, and the fix would have done nothing to help the underlying hurt and other issues in this particular relationship. Perhaps your situation is similar, and that’s why God hasn’t fixed it as you’ve wanted Him to.

      I’ve also come to understand recently that the growing and learning aren’t in the “fix;” they’re in the process of getting there. And in my experience, it’s in that process, much more than in the destination, that we find God. So we miss out on a lot if we try to short-circuit or ignore the process just to get to the resolution.

      I pray you find what you’re looking for.

      • Linda says

        ” the growing and learning aren’t in the “fix;” they’re in the process of getting there. And in my experience, it’s in that process, much more than in the destination, that we find God.”


      • Glen says why is it so hard to get the focus off of the symptoms. I know what you’re saying is true but facing the root issue with God isn’t working. My heart doesn’t want anything to do with it. It’s easier to stay disconnected than to face the pain. My” alone” time with God is usually just going through the motions and not fruitful

        • Crystal says

          In my experience, until I was willing to trust God enough to give Him access to that part of my life and believe totally that He truly wants to give me good things and not punish me for my mistakes, He wasn’t going to act. He will only restore things that you allow Him to and trust Him with.

    • Susan Martin says

      He can’t fix what you’re gravitating towards. He’s not a genie. He’s not responsible for your own choices. Often times, we make bad decisions and blame God and others.
      I’m speaking from experience, not in any way trying to be disrespectful.

    • lyn says

      The.answer, the “fix” is truly in Jesus and your relationship with Him and allowing His spirit, the Holy spirit to change you. Jesus isn’t a gumball machine where you put your $$ in (your prayers) and get what you want. The Lord often has a different idea than what & how we think our prayers should be answered. Often, it’s letting go of one’s self centeredness, giving the problem to him and asking what He would have you do. Also blaming God, the emotionally unavailable men is not the source of the problem. Maybe Jesus didn’t fix it because when you don’t allow yourself to listen to Him, make yourself available to Him (His spirit) to live through you to do His will, He’s got nothing to work with. More of Him, less.of me so to speak. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. Sometimes we have to let go of whatever/whoever in order to make room for what He has for us. It’s scary to do but so worth it.

  3. Pam says

    Thank you for this. I generally find these posts very helpful…. and on some levels this is. But on others it is not. I think I do understand what you are trying to say and perhaps this small excerpt having being taken from the ‘whole’ does not do it justice and so forgive me if I have interpreted it incorrectly. But it feels like to me to have been written not from a place of true understanding or lived personal experience of long term aloneness but rather from a place of superiority. For me it has condemned rather than helped at a time when I am separated from family and old friends who really know me. When I do feel my aloneness acutely and long for relationship. I will not be ashamed because God knows and as one of the comments so wisely wrote, everything is a process. So we mess up, we sink to deepest sadness, we cry, we hold onto God, we learn. I once read that people who had experienced war and conflict at its extreme still felt the trauma of loss of love and relationship hardest to bear …. this is what makes us human. That’s why I love the psalms so much because they express the deepest despair and the deepest joy without shame but with a crying out to the one who understands our human condition so well and so that’s why my heart does not condemn me! Why in earth would we be in relationship if we didn’t need them…. sigh I know this is not what you are saying but there is another side to this that you are not mentioning.
    Perhaps I like better …..we are dependent on each other and yet we need the space to breathe and grow? Or perhaps connected not dependent is to be our striving ? Can someone please give me their opinion on my question…. think that might be helpful ! Someone recently suggested what I needed to do was lose hope in a having a relationship like this was somehow the solution … sorry but kind of reminds me of this post. I thought it best to say nothing to that.

  4. Joy says

    This advice is spot on. I went through this several years ago. I didn’t understand what it was about me that made men treat me like dirt. I was in deep emotional pain. My recovery started on my knees crying out to God to help me, teach me, show me His will for my life because I didn’t have a clue. He told me to read His word. Answers were right there. Then I called on my women friends who are believers or were searching for God, The kind who asked the hard questions and listened completely and non-judgementally. I went to church for the purpose of finding answers, not just filling requirements. I took notes, wrote journals, read books like “Boundaries”, attended Bible studies and meetings. The pain subsided and went away. I learned how to set and keep boundaries. I praised God for every little tiny improvement. Now I praise Him for all things, even the things I don’t like, because I know He has a good plan for me. I’m now serving at a Christ centered ministry called Celebrate Recovery. The point is to grow your relationship with God. Yes, God delivered me from the fear of being alone, and other fears as well. I no longer needed to be in a relationship to feel happy because I was no longer running from the pain. As a result, I was open and available when a good, Christian man proposed. We are now celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary. God is good.

  5. Kurt says

    Great article. Had to get to that place myself. Inner healing was helpful to get to the place of not needing a relationship and becoming content with being single. Loneliness and fear ofvrejection are powerful emotions.

  6. Jim says

    Sometimes “God gives us what we need in packages we don’t want” John Bevere
    When I first heard this I was like-Bing. I am married to a woman that I was not looking for, but what I needed. When we met she was reading Boundaries by Cloud. We have been married 10 years and health boundaries are talked about almost daily. God knew what I needed. Sometimes I get frustrated and want to leave and give up. God says; “ You’re not going anywhere.” So here I am with God as my best friend and my wife is my 2nd best friend. Marraige has to be about 2 people loving God First. What’s left is much better than we could ever give to our spouse than if we did not have God.

  7. Jay Russell says

    I appreciate almost all of this article! I think most of what you’ve said is spot on. However, I think some of the phrasing used can send the wrong message.

    The Biblical truth is, whether we’re single or married, we are, by God’s intent, dependent on other people. There’s absolutely nothing we can do to change that. Also, whether we’re married or not, that dependency extents to people of the opposite gender: All men need women, and all women need men. Period. That’s how The LORD intended it from the very beginning.

    I think the best way to convey what you’re saying is this: We need to eliminate desperation from our desire for relationships. If we’re desperate to be in a relationship, we will give into bad ones. When we recognize that desperation and remove it, we can appropriately look for relationships that fulfill the God-given dependency on other people and, most importantly, fulfill it in a way that honors Him!

    In short: Dependency isn’t bad. Desperation is.

  8. Dave says

    The key points you listed all appy to me. But I am married with 2 children and though I might be labeled, dependent, I also do not want to be alienated from my children and leave them in a bad situation. Counseling has been unsuccessful as my wife does not want to change or admit that she is abusive. Should I take that list as an encouragement to separate or divorce?

  9. D says

    What does God say about the situation… what does his Word say? What do your godly married friends whom you respect and who love & respect you say? My mother came close to leaving my father (unbeknownst to me) many many years ago when I was 18/19 after struggling for years and years… now they have an excellent marriage (and have for many years) and he goes to church with her every Sunday. What are you believing God for… what do you want Him to do in your life?

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