Trouble Being Alone

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Since I was in highschool I havent been able to just be alone, and by that I mean, I have been in continuous monogamous relationships, one after the next after the next, some lasting years, others lasting just a few months.

I consider myself an extremely social person and like to be around other people, but its gotten to the point where I dont like to be at home by myself, and if I am, I am always texting other people or online emailing/chatting. This issue arises because I was dumped last night out of a 3 month relationship and I find that despite the fact that it was a considerably short relationship I am incredibly hurt and feel like she rejected me as a person, and I am panicking about what I am going to do today after work, or this weekend, and so on.

It is this feeling panic which pushes me rapidly into another relationship which ultimately ends and ultimately results in the same situation. Why do I do this, and what advice do you have that might help me stop it?

A. I think you have identified the primary issue which is that you don’t want to be alone or you don’t feel that you can be alone. Any relationship seems to be preferable to no relationship. You quickly become attached to others. Unfortunately, this most likely leads you into relationships that have little chance for success.

It is difficult to know with certainty why you engage in this type of behavior. It may be that you lack self-confidence. You may not feel that you can handle life on your own. You might be using others as a crutch to help you get by in life.

Another possible explanation is dependent personality disorder. Individuals with this disorder tend to display needy or submissive behavior. They fear being alone. They also fear separation. They are often described as “clingy” in relationships. According to the DSM-TR-IV, other characteristics of the disorder include:

  • difficulty making everyday decisions;
  • need an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others;
  • allows others to take initiative and to assume responsibility;
  • depends on others to tell where they should live or what type of job they should have;
  • has difficulty expressing disagreement primarily because they are fearful of losing support or approval from others;
  • willing to tolerate abusive behavior from others;
  • have difficulty beginning projects or doing things independently;
  • relies on others to handle their problems; and is
  • preoccupied with fears of being alone to care for themselves.

I cannot determine if you have dependent personality disorder. I would encourage you to have a psychological evaluation by a mental health professional. He or she can determine if you meet the criteria for the dependent diagnosis or any other disorder. After an evaluation, be certain to inquire about the most appropriate treatment. This is a problem that you should not ignore. It could significantly and negatively impact your life.

By depending on others, you are essentially allowing them to rule your life. You deserve to live your life based on your wants, needs and desires. The good news is that you have identified this behavior as a problem in your life. Your awareness is the first step in helping you to find a solution to your problem. This is very encouraging.

I hope you are able to get the help that you deserve. The find help tab at the top of this page can help you locate a therapist who can assist you in addressing these issues. Please take care. I wish you the best of luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Jul 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Trouble Being Alone. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/07/19/trouble-being-alone/