Do You Fear Being Alone?
Are you afraid of being alone? Are you worried that you will never form a meaningful romantic relationship? Do you avoid making connections with new people because you’re afraid of being rejected? While a certain amount of anxiety about pursuing a romantic relationship is nothing to be concerned about, a persistent and debilitating fear of being alone can be a serious problem.
A recent study performed by Brigham Young University researchers found that persistent social isolation can increase a person’s mortality rate by as much as 29 percent. Seeing as social isolation can be as serious a health problem as obesity, it’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms of social phobia in ourselves and others.
Falling Into the Social Isolation Trap
The unfortunate reality is, it is very easy to become socially isolated. A precipitating event, such as a break up with a longtime partner or a move to a new area where you don’t know anyone, can provoke strong feelings of anxiety and isolation. This negative emotional state can become more entrenched if a precipitating event occurs near the same time as significant life changes, such as a birthday or the engagement or marriage of someone in your peer group.
As your sense of isolation worsens, you can become consumed with feelings of inadequacy, that because of your age, weight, financial status, educational background or profession, you are not and are likely to ever become romantically desirable. Ironically, as your feelings of inadequacy increase, you will avoid making social connections with potential romantic partners out of the fear of being rejected. There is also increasing evidence to suggest that certain cultural interests can have an adverse effect on your mental health.
In many ways, modern culture makes it easier than ever for us to become isolated. The rise of high-speed Internet has led to the emergence of programs that allow us to digitally stream virtually endless amounts of media. While binge watching itself does not cause depression, one study found that it has become a refuge for the depressed and socially isolated. The emergence of social media has also played a part in the growing trend of cultural isolation. Though social media platforms like Facebook allow us to remain in constant contact with our friends and loved ones, it also has the tendency to make us feel unsatisfied with our own lives. Through no fault of your own, you could greatly exacerbate your feelings of loneliness and fear of rejection just by engaging in your regular hobbies.
If you become irrationally convinced that you will never again have a meaningful romantic relationship and are now actively avoid forming new interpersonal connections out of fear, you might be grappling with some form of social phobia. There are a number of different ways to deal with this problem. Using cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, you could work to dismantle your fears rationally. By writing down and reciting a list of facts that contradict the basic nature of your anxiety, you could slowly lessen its emotional power until it no longer has the ability to affect your thoughts or behavior.
Seeking Outside Help
Another way to tackle the problem would be to going into counseling. A qualified therapist could help you come to grips with the nature and origins of your social anxiety while also helping you rebuild the confidence you lost after spending so much time considering yourself undesirable. Alternatively, you could attend group therapy sessions with other people who are grappling with the same issues. Not only would you benefit from talking about your anxieties, but you may also form connections that would help bolster your existing social safety net. If your feelings of isolation are causing you to become depressed, immediate help is available. The pathway out of the grip of any social anxiety disorder lies in accepting the fundamental truth that, no matter what your circumstances, you are not alone.