Scared of singledom
Sometimes the fear of being single keeps people in relationships that are well beyond their sell-by date. So how do you really know when it's time to say goodbye?
So your relationship has run its course. You're bored. You're miserable. Unrewarded and uninspired. Still, it's better than being alone, isn't it?
"Shelley and me were always known as the 'marrieds' at college because we pretty much did everything together," reveals, Mark, 20. "But then we went to different universities, and things started to drift soon after. We saw each other whenever we could, but travelling cost a fortune and we both found it hard going. I suspected Shelley's heart was going out of the relationship, but I couldn't bring myself to address it. Why not? Fear, basically. Fear that we would split. I just didn't know how I would cope alone, so I pretended everything was fine. For two terms."
Looking back, Mark admits he was miserable. His feelings for Shelley had changed, but the unknown intimidated him. All too often people think being single makes them second-class citizens, while in reality it can be a liberation.
"That Christmas, Shelley and I went out and she told me she'd been seeing another guy. I was devastated, but it was also kind of inevitable, and for the first time we both talked freely about the situation we were in. We agreed it was over, which hit me hard, but I guess I'd been fearing a split for so long that it wasn't actually as bad I imagined. In some ways it felt like a release. A chance to move on at last."
- Be honest about your feelings: I think when you're having doubts about the way ahead the one person you should be telling is your other half. It affects them as much as you, after all. Had we been more upfront with each other about the fact that it wasn't working out, it certainly would've been a much cleaner finish.
- Don't just focus on the negative aspects of being single: Of course it's going to hurt coming out of a relationship, but you forget the good things that come with being a free agent. Parties are more fun for a start!
- Take one step at a time: When you're on the inside looking out, the prospect of being single seems a world away from what you've got. But it's not like alien territory, and my fear that I'd end up lonely and desperate proved unfounded. In some ways I look at couples now and I'm glad I'm not in their shoes!
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