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Is being alone worse than being in a toxic relationship?

Not surprisingly studies time and time again remind is that the fear of being alone is one of the strongest reasons people choose to continue to in not so healthy relationships…

A study by Dr Stephanie Spielmann from the University of Toronto surveyed both men and woman of a various ages found that the fear of being single was consistently one of the greatest predictors why people settled for unhealth dynamics in their relationships.

"Those with stronger fears about being single are willing to settle for less in their relationships," says lead author Stephanie Spielmann, postdoctoral researcher in the University of Toronto's Department of Psychology. "Sometimes they stay in relationships they aren't happy in, and sometimes they want to date people who aren't very good for them." Spielmann adds, "Now we understand that people's anxieties about being single seem to play a key role in these types of unhealthy relationship behaviours."

One solid insight from this study showed that both men and women lived with anxiety of being alone which affected their decisions to stay in relationships; but also appeared to have effect on their trust of others which tended to be expressed in a stronger need for attachment and dependence.

"In our results we see men and women having similar concerns about being single, which lead to similar coping behaviours, contradicting the idea that only women struggle with a fear of being single," says co-author, Professor Geoff MacDonald of the University of Toronto's Department of Psychology. "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."

So, what can we learn from this study?

“At the very least, what we now know can serve as a reminder to question why you’re making the choices you do in your relationships,” she says; “and to try to focus on making decisions that are truly in your best interest.”

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