It is called anuptophobia and is the fear of being single, not getting married or having a partner and has increased, thanks to the health emergency and the lockdown. If until a few years ago it was considered part of the largest category of obsessions, today it has its own name that has helped to clear it and make it easier to talk about it.
The cult film Bridget Jones’s Diary , where the protagonist is constantly looking for love and the balance of a lasting relationship, also deals with this theme . But if in cinematic fiction there is the inevitable happy ending, in reality it can be difficult to get out of the condition of frustration linked to being single, especially among women after 40.
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Almost 1 in 3 Italians lives alone (31%). In some regions such as Liguria, the percentage of singles is even 40.9%, in Valle d’Aosta 39.6% and in Friuli Venezia Giulia 35.6%. According to data from a census (Coldiretti-Istat) there are 7.7 million families with only one member . Yet still today not having a partner or a husband is a source of anxiety for those suffering from anuptaphobia, included among the disorders mentioned on the occasion of World Mental Health Day (10 October). But if it is true that almost anyone in life has had the fear of not finding a soul mate, anuptaphobia has characteristic traits, such as the constant search for a partner.or the ideal man, or the emotional dependence, which leads to accepting wrong stories in order not to be alone.
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The identikit of those suffering from anuptaphobia
“Often she is a woman with a life story made up of rejection, abandonment and betrayal by the so-called attachment figures: parents first and then partners” explains Anna Chiara Venturini, psychologist and psychotherapist. «The anuptaphobic person generally has low self-esteem, emotional dependence on the other and excessive jealousy : all elements that often lead to an obsessive control of the potential partner. She suffers a lot from the social pressure linked to the beliefs about family, couple and motherhood , according to which a woman must have a man next to her and procreate, otherwise she has something wrong “adds the expert. “Usually it is a single, around 40 and still socially identified as a spinster , who was unable to find or maintain a relationship with a man ».
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The ideal of the perfect man
Anuptaphobic women are generally novellas Bridget Jones, at least for the fact of being in search of the perfect partner, the man of dreams, except to collide with the reality of imperfection or with the fact of not noticing (or not wanting to notice) her defects. This leads to insisting on wrong relationships that can only end badly, increasing frustration and the sense of failure: “All social and cultural expectations induce a very strong and constant anxiety , alternating with moments of deep sadness that can border on in depressive states. The person feels this anxiety in parallel with the fear of not being able to find a partner, ending up meeting various partners in a serial manner or remaining insterile and toxic relationships because they allow her to maintain the social mask of a fiancée and therefore not a spinster »explains Venturini.
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If a man after 30 or even 40 years is defined as a golden bachelor, with a non-negative meaning, a woman will never happen to be called a “golden maiden”. Hence a sense of inadequacy that the anuptaphobic tries to keep at bay in two ways: «Mental rumination, hence the fact of continuing to mull over one’s condition, self-depreciating or blaming an alleged persistence of fate ; and the continuous control of social networks so as to monitor changes in the partner on duty and temporarily placate those emotions. In reality this is only a palliative, since those emotions will return as soon as the hypothetical partner adopts a different behavior than expected »explains the psychotherapist.
A fear that comes from childhood
Abandonments, betrayals, devaluations, refusals are all reasons for the sense of inadequacy that leads to anuptaphobia. And it is rooted in childhood, especially if you lived in an environment characterized by unpredictability and distrust. “The woman who today suffers from anutpaphobia may have been a child with an insecure, ambivalent or disorganized attachment, who did not learn to manage emotions adequately because the parent was in turn unable to do so or was absent” explains Venturini. This leads to a relationship ending as a personal failure, with a sense of misunderstanding on the part of others and consequently an even greater desire to find someone to reassure, on which however one inevitably ends up making one’s self-esteem dependent. “This can also happen to those who have lived in an overprotective environment or with older people , who prevent them from structuring an autonomous sense of self and capable of self-determination regardless of the others” adds the expert. Those who have had a secure attachment, on the other hand, will have greater resilience and capacity for acceptance, considering the finished story as an opportunity for personal growth and looking within themselves for the resources to restart.
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What does Covid have to do with it?
«The pandemic and the consequent lockdown have determined in each of us an increase in the level of individual vulnerability and an increase in the sense of helplessness , awakening old fears or generating new ones. Among these anuptaphobia – explains the expert – which has found a significant increase due to anticovid restrictions , with fewer social contacts, fewer convivial occasions and a virtual world in which to pour attempts to get to know people “, as demonstrated by the increase the use of online chat and dating. “However, a vicious circle has also been created between research, investment, illusion, a sense of failure and fear of remaining single,” adds Venturini.
Tips to get out of the ” tunnel of singleness “
«The first indication is to work on the dynamics of abandonment and rejection by going back to the traumas experienced in the past», perhaps with the help of an expert. However, it is possible to adopt small precautions even in everyday life and independently: for example, to structure a daily life in which you can insert activities from which to draw emotions and gratifications , so that the emotional relationship is no longer seen as the only source of emotional supply and / or safety; do not live each new relationship as if it were the one of life; give value to other areas of life: often the person reduces everything to the goal of finding a partner and does not consider the other goals that he can set himself and from which he can derive new gratifications, such as work, travel, time spent with friends.