The Fear of Ending a Relationship

Relationships may not always go the way you want them to. No matter how hopeful you are or how much you invest into it, it may just not work out; and this puts us in a situation where we have to make a very daunting decision. The decision to stay in or leave the relationship. 

If you’ve already been through heartbreak or witnessed the pain and chaos that ensues after a breakup, you would know that it's an ugly process that involves mountains of pain and an equivalent amount of wet tissues. 

It’s generally this fear of inflicting pain that keeps us from making the decision to leave. To deal with this, let’s start by looking at why you’re afraid.

Where Does This Fear Come From?

1. Fears Adopted During Childhood

The fear on its own can be deeply rooted and stem from our childhood. As children, the mind is essentially a sponge that absorbs everything you see and hear, and this is also around the same time that the perception of emotions is developed. 

This in turn causes children in households with parental conflict to:

  • Shut down their personal needs and conform to the expectations of the parent inorder to alleviate the situation however possible.
  • Develop a fear that makes it difficult to approach anyone in anger.
  • Convince themselves that their parents are fragile and look for ways to take care of themselves, just so that they do not get in the way.

These events that may take place in our childhood can feed our minds with fears that remain potent even in our adulthood. 

2. Fear of Abandonment

Along with this comes the fear of abandonment which can fester in the mind as a result of events that took place in one’s life. Generally, experiences that can contribute to this fear are:

  • Abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Neglect
  • Death of a loved one
  • Emotional unavailability of a parent/caregiver

By the time a person reaches adulthood they will have gone through significant changes that can also contribute to the fear. The fear can also be caused by mental health conditions like BPD and separation anxiety disorder.

These fears make it incredibly difficult for a person to even think about being alone, which isn’t exactly helpful when you’re trying to leave a person.


Now that we know where the fear originates from, let's look at reasons as to why you may not be able to end the relationship and what we can do about them.

3. Why you may be afraid and what you can do about it.

Ending a relationship is daunting. It requires you to make a concrete decision as to whether you want a certain person in your life or not, and in most cases, the people involved get dealt a terrifying amount of mental damage. 

But as love runs out, the most logical thing to do would be to leave the person. So why is it so difficult to announce it to your partner?

Let’s look at a few reasons why you may be afraid:

You don’t want to hurt your partner.

As simple as it may sound, it is very difficult to fathom the fact that you probably will end up hurting a person that you had an intimate connection with. 

So there’s a significant amount of guilt that you may feel when considering the decision to leave them. 

What we can do about it:

Know that all relationships aren’t made to last. Staying in a relationship out of pity does more damage than good, because your unhappiness will eventually catch up to you and it will result in the same, proportionally intense, outcome. 

It’s always better to rip off the bandaid, short term pain is always better than long term. Your partner or now ex-partner might be sad for a few days or weeks but will then slowly regain their composure and identity. In the end, the both of you are going to be alright.

You’re scared of your partner.

No, it’s not just for relationships where one of the people involved exhibit anger or have anger issues. As surprising as it is, we might be subconsciously afraid of our partners, even if they’re one of the nicest people on the planet. We’re afraid of the anger that may follow the bad news.

What we can do about it:

It's highly unlikely that your partner is going to show any violent behavior towards you. Especially if they’re people who have never exhibited that type of behavior before. 

But just in case you’re afraid of anything going wrong, try and arrange a way to break up in public or have a friend or family member with you when doing so.

You don't want to be alone.

This is a reason that people rarely admit. Even though the love died and we’re ready to break up, the thought of being alone is genuinely scary. 

Being in a relationship gets us used to having company most of the time, they may have been there for you when your thoughts were keeping you up at night. So losing the comfort of having a person with you is, definitely, scary.

What we can do about it:

Being in a relationship definitely does have its benefits, but being single does too. Consider the fact that you are relieving yourself of something that has been burdening you, and think about the freedom, contentment, and serenity that is going to come along with it. 

The greatest challenge here would be to picture yourself outside the relationship, it’s a big change and yes, it is scary, being alone isn’t all that fun but you’ve been here before and it’s nothing you can’t handle either.

You’re afraid you might not find anyone better.

What happens after the breakup is also something we will naturally worry about. We’ll start weighing our options and at times, it may seem as though we don’t really have any better options but for the person we’re currently with. 

You might think, What if this will be a mistake? What if this is the best I’ll ever have? What if I’ll never find love again? All these questions might just lead us to believe that staying with our partner is the best course of action.

What we can do about it:

“There are plenty of fish in the sea”

It’s actually true! It’s absurd to think that you will not find anyone better than your current partner. There are billions of people in the world and as long as you focus on improving yourself, you will definitely attract the right people. 

The fear of isolation, pain, and guilt, among other myriad things that depend on the situation, are what escalates this fear in our minds into something that makes the option of breaking up unthinkable. 

Which is why most people try to stick with the relationship and not look for any other alternative regardless of how unhappy they are. 

We know that it’s not easy to end a relationship, but the more you delay it, the worse it gets.
Again, all relationships are not made to last and you have no reason to feel guilty for ending a relationship. 

In the end what matters is that you’re happy and that you are brave enough to be honest with your partner and end the relationship in a civilized manner.

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