Fear Of Missing Out and Impact of Fomo On Relationships
As a Dubai counsellor, that runs depression and anxiety treatment in Dubai I am hearing more people claim they or their partner have “FOMO” “fear of missing out” In fact “FOMO” is becoming a common occurrence, maybe it has always been present in society we just didn’t label it before. Today I will share what fear of missing out can do to an individual and how it affects relationships with couples I work with from around the world on zoom. As well as those that seek anxiety treatment in Dubai.
So, what exactly is “FOMO”?
The “fear of missing out” can be where a person feels a deep sense that others are living a better life or doing something better than they are doing. For example, others having a more romantic relationship, others working in a better-paid job, others doing more with their life, etc.
One reason why it’s becoming more and more of an issue are due to the rise in social media usage and reality TV shows.
As a professional who facilitates anxiety treatment in Dubai and around the globe, I have seen clients struggle with being constantly bombarded with a filtered way of life on social media, where influencers are always showing the world the best version of their lives, as well as with reality TV stars sharing their multi-billion-dollar luxury lives. Seeing their picture-perfect lives and bodies can leave some feeling envious and that life is unfair.
But “FOMO” goes even deeper than this. The “fear of missing out” isn’t just restricted to life on social media or TV. People who experience “FOMO” can look at friends, family members, or those around them and feel like they are doing better or just generally are better or luckier than them, which creates a huge feeling of insecurity, constantly wanting to check up on what others are doing so that they are “in the know”. This can happen in personal relationships and also at work; For example – thinking others are enjoying their work more, getting further ahead for their age, having greater success due to being born into wealth and fearing they will never catch up.
Those that come for depression counseling Dubai or anxiety treatment dubai understand that we have a term “keeping up with the jones” that refers to people trying to keep up with other expats lifestyles, despite not always being in a financial position to do so. In some circumstances I’ve had couples divided over this where the husband or wife wants more and more luxury items and experiences to fit in and the other wants to keep things simple.
I’ve also had people come to me feeling depressed and like a failure, as they can’t give themselves or their spouse or children the lifestyle and opportunities they see around them or online.
So I’ll explain a bit more the impact “FOMO” has on a person, how it impacts a relationship including case studies of couples I have facilitated online marriage counselling for, and I will end by sharing my tips on what to do if you are experiencing “FOMO” or how to support a partner who has a “fear of missing out”.
The “fear of missing out” can deeply affect a person and the way they live their life, for example –
- Constantly checking social media to keep up to date with what others are doing in their lives and then feeling upset, disturbed or unhappy with your own life because you have the perception that others are doing so much more in their life than you are.
- Negatively comparing yourself to others in all parts of life and talking down to yourself because you feel others are doing better.
- Regularly feeling anxious when checking social media or speaking to others because you feel like you need to do more than you are to keep up with those around you – especially because your life doesn’t look as luxurious or lavish as those you see online.
- Lack of self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy because you see beauty and success in others and not in yourself – leaving you feel like you’re not good enough.
- Spending frivolously because you don’t want to miss out on being the first to have something like the latest phone or visiting trending places.
- A habit of lying starts to impress others and deep down you can’t stand yourself for being a fake.
- Another aspect of FOMO that I haven’t mentioned is never wanting to miss events, wanting to say yes to every invitation possible, go on every holiday, be the last to leave the party, always wanting one more drink for the road and this ends up in terrible hang overs, poor sleep and not being able to support your day to day responsibilities. I see binge drinking and FOMO often go hand in hand, for couples or individuals that want to change their binge drinking habits part of what entices them to keep going beyond their limits is because they fear leaving a bar or party early they will be missing out. In fact I do a lot of coaching and hypnotherapy work to help stop binge drinking and become a selective and moderate drinker.
As much as it can affect an individual, “FOMO” will also deeply impact a relationship. In my marriage counseling I have worked with a number of couples who have struggled with “FOMO”.
I will share stories of a couple who came to me for couples counseling because the “fear of missing out” was affecting their relationship. (Names have been changed to protect identities).
Katy and Connor have been married for 9 years, they came to me for marriage counseling Dubai. Katy is what society would call, “a social butterfly”. Connor shared with me that Katy made friends wherever she would go – she had friends from school, college, university, work friends, mummy friends and more.
This jam-packed social life meant that Connor and Katy were constantly going out to parties, on double dates with other couples and also spent a lot of time a part as Katy was always the one to be there for everyone else. Connor was beginning to feel like he wasn’t in a marriage anymore as he only saw Katy when they were out with others, or she was rushing in and out to support other people. Even when they entertained in their own home, she was not relaxed she ran around after everyone else, making sure everything looked perfect.
Katy really struggled to say “no” to anyone that invited her out or needed some help. Once we began to open up the discussion about their marriage, it was clear that Katy was experiencing “FOMO”. She shared that she felt like she was missing out if she didn’t stay connected to her friends at all times as most of her social circles were well off and were always out socializing, doing amazing things on their days off – which led to Katy feeling unhappy if she was staying home with Connor or doing simpler things on their days off
Connor noticed that Katy was beginning to develop more colds and felt that the stress of keeping up appearances at all of these social gatherings was weakening her immunity and causing her to fall ill more than she ever had before. This pushed Connor to research counsellors in Dubai and to get the right support for Katy.
Katy really needed the confidence to be herself, see her strengths and to focus on what really mattered to her, being a good friend, wife and mother. Not to be all things to all people, I helped her break free from the habit of people pleasing. Enabling her to be at peace with herself and life, to have appreciation for own unique gifts and the day to day things that made her smile.
This had a massive impact on the relationship and family life, they still had entertained and did social activities, they were just more selective and found they had a lot more fun, forming deeper relationships with others than countless surface level ones.
So, what can you do if you are experiencing “FOMO”?
There are a few things you can do if you notice that you are experiencing the fear of missing out and it is impacting your relationship –
1. Identify your own goals – Sometimes when you experience FOMO you end up focusing on what others are doing more than worrying about living your own life. To bring your focus back to what matters the most, I suggest taking some time out of your week to identify your own goals and values in life. What matters to you most? What is it that you want to do and leave behind in the world? Your goals can be small or big, the idea is to get into the habit of focusing on your own values, dreams and goals and thinking less about others. In fact this is so important it forms step 4 in my 4 step program for couples, where I have couples fill out 4 questionnaires on their life goals, ambitions, passions, dreams as well as identify their top 7 values from a list of over 100 words. Then we explore their shared goals, dreams and establish rituals as a family unit. So give yourself time to explore what you want, perhaps work with a friend your partner or a life coach in this.
2. Spend less time on social media – I feel like this is healthy for any individual as too much time on social media platforms can leave many feeling like they are not good enough. Research shows that spending a lot of time online can directly impact your mental wellbeing. Hence the terms facebook blues and Instagram insecurities. If you struggle to manage your time off social media, it would be a great idea to get an app to block it after a certain amount of time a day. Or adding the “do not disturb” mode on your phone, which automatically turns off notifications for apps at a certain time – this reduces the temptation to keep checking social media platforms.
3. Organise meaningful date nights and more fun with those you love – The time spent comparing and fearing missing out on life can be put into researching and organizing date nights and fun activities with those you love. Doing things that are meaningful to you and your loved ones. This doesn’t have to be extravagant or luxurious – it just has to be something that is special and meaningful to you. Some couples share their best nights are playing board games or going for walks in nature.
4. Practice mindfulness – Often people who experience “FOMO” are usually so on the go that they don’t have time to just be. I used be like that, I was a human doing rather than a human being and now I take more time for me. As a lack of time to be present, to be tuned into yourself and what is truly important to you can lead to overworking, overthinking, doing more but with less enjoyment. Set some time aside to just simply relax and do one activity at a time. Mindfulness does not need to be exercises that focus on your breathing or observing your thoughts, etc. It can simply be focusing on one thing at once like washing up, walking, listening to music, eating in silence it’s about enjoying the simplicity of doing one activity and not overloading yourself trying to multi-task. Studies have shown that doing a mindfulness activity can increase self-confidence and helps us to become more aware of our own feelings.
5. Seek professional help if it’s interfering with your enjoyment of life –It can be so difficult to take that first step in saying yes to yourself and investing in your happiness. If you realise that you are experiencing feelings of not feeling good enough, insecurity, jealousy etc you can change it. Choose someone you trust to guide you and that you can click with. I’ve supported countless people and couples around the world, work through their “FOMO” and become free from the obsession of keeping up appearances, change is possible.
If it is your partner that is experiencing “FOMO”, it may be taking a huge toll on you because, naturally, you might start to feel like you’re not important to your partner who is constantly comparing your life with others. You may even be at the receiving end of harsh comments like “Why can’t you be getting the same salary as them or why aren’t you as romantic like them?”, Or hearing things like “Our life is so boring compared to them” or “why didn’t we do that last weekend?” like Katy was before our work together your partner might be so consumed with others that they have no time for you at all. Or you might be in a relationship with someone that loves to party and drink a lot that this ruins your weekend too.
There are a few ways you can help your partner overcome “FOMO”, here are a few examples –
1. Praise – I think compliments and praise are so underrated. We should genuinely compliment and praise each other when we see our loved ones doing something great, looking amazing etc. Not only does this boost a person’s self-esteem, it also gives them a sense that they are good enough and won’t need to continuously check or compare themselves with others.
2. Plan couple’s activities together – Even if your partner seems to be constantly on the go or on the look out for more excitement, organize something they will love. Take it in turns to be creative and to change things up a bit more.
3. Social Media Breaks– Have in your relationship and family life regular technology detoxes. Camping or clamping can be a great way to detach or activities where you leave the phones at home or in the bag. Technology free nights are also great fun.
I really hope these points help you overcome “FOMO” or help you to support a partner with “FOMO. If you would like any one to one support depression counseling Dubai, Anxiety Treatment Dubai or Life Coaching, feel free to book an introduction call on my website or email me at email@example.com for a detailed email on my couple program.