FOBU - The Fear of Breaking Up

FOBU - The Fear of Breaking Up
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Written and verified by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 13 October, 2022

When a relationship brings you more suffering than well-being, or when love simply runs out, the most logical thing to do is to end it and turn the page. Of course, it’s not always an easy task. Just the thought of breaking up makes some people feel authentic fear. These people suffer from what is known as FOBU, the fear of breaking up.

FOBU is an acronym for Fear of Breaking Up (fear of ending a romantic relationship). It’s a behavioral pattern which is found in people of all ages and social status. But it’s true some generations are more vulnerable to this phenomenon, like Millennials or Generation Y.

Apps like Tinder, WhatsApp, or Instagram are some examples of the new platforms beings used to flirt these days. In fact, there are thousands of couples who have never seen each other face to face.

This lack of physical communication is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it softens the blow. On the other, it makes young people more vulnerable. They take longer than their parents and grandparents to face certain vital traumas. These are necessary for an adequate mental and emotional development. That is why people at this age are more vulnerable to suffering from FOBU.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”
-Winston Churchill-

Why does FOBU occur?

FOBU is produced mainly because of low self-esteem, the fear of being alone and basically, of starting over. When we are in a toxic relationship and feel trapped, any attempt to gain independence means a great effort, even when we’re suffering. If we have been in that relationship for a long time, ending it and everything it implies would mean a drastic change.

The routines to which some of us are used to keep us in a bittersweet comfort zone. The thought of breaking up when we have a close relationship with our partner’s family and friends is heartbreaking. Some of our fears include what they will think of us or the looks on their faces when they see us on the street. Also, the simple idea of losing all contact with people we have become so attached to.

A couple breaking up.

When a relationship ends, whoever made the decision usually feels responsible and guilty for all the pain the breakup causes. Since we don’t want to hurt anyone, we feel like executioners. Instead, we choose to punish ourselves for weeks. We know that we’re going to suffer as well, and that makes us even more afraid. Our lives become a spiral of doubt and burdens because we don’t know how to face the problem.

Another one of FOBU’s main causes is that some people simply don’t know how to be alone. Some of us need the approval and the presence of another person in our lives. This makes it impossible for us to even consider breaking up. We prefer to be unhappy and live a miserable existence, rather than face what we already know. The fact that we no longer want to be with that person.

How can you get over your FOBU?

The only way you can overcome your FOBU is by facing the situation. Being brave is very difficult, but sometimes it’s the only way to achieve your own happiness. There is no point in remaining in a state where your suffering is greater than your well-being.

If the relationship has been healthy and true, but the flame of love is gone, the logical thing is to be honest with the other person. Remember that you may not be in love anymore, but you were in the past. Therefore, the other person deserves the greatest possible respect. On top of being very selfish, it would be cowardly to deceive the other person by making them believe love remains between you.

If you have been in a toxic and dependent relationship, breaking up is a priority for your mental health. You deserve to be respected, valued, and loved by people who feel the same thing you feel for them. Enslaving yourself to suffering and pain will only undermine your self-esteem and lead you to a dead end.

A young attractive couple.

One way or another, keep in mind that doubts and regrets will circle you. Your life will change, and surely you’ll miss many things, especially the company, even if you were in a toxic relationship. There will even be days when you’ll feel lonely and have the idea of getting back with your ex.  However, it won’t be your heart speaking, but the lack of your routines.

Talk to a specialist about breaking up

You should see a specialist if the fear of being alone or breaking up with your partner starts affecting you abnormally. It may be that you have developed a pathology caused by some traumatic event. For example, previous breakups, or you may need to work on your self-esteem.

In these cases, respecting yourself and knowing your own worth is essential. You need to love yourself enough to know how to end something that no longer fulfills you. What others think should be irrelevant.

Make up your mind and take action

Don’t wait any longer if you’re aware that you’re a victim of FOBU. This feeling will entrap you more and more and will prevent you from making a decision.

Now, when you’ve finally decided to end the relationship, keep in mind that the other person might not react well. Either because you have broken their heart or because they want you to remain under their control at all costs. The most important thing is that you protect yourself, especially in this last scenario.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.