Dear EFAP: Fretting over FOMO

Thank you to those who have written to “dear efap” for input on your dilemmas. As you are aware, we read every inquiry that comes in but we are only able to print a small selection of responses.  Our “pithy” answers are modeled after the lighter hearted Dear Abby style and are grounded in common sense.  If your issues require a more personalized level of support please call EFAP (1-800-505-4929) and we can confidentially book you a counselling appointment with a senior level therapist.

We welcome all inquiries – please submit these to All printed responses use the anonymous descriptor that you sign your inquiry with and do not reveal any identifying information.  Our goal is to support you through insight and common sense.

Below is our response to the next selection – enjoy!

Dear EFAP,

I have trouble with missing out on anything.  My “sort of ex” still sniffs around, and I let him. I never seem to commit to a guy to the point where I could be called his “girlfriend.”  I don’t say yes to party invites until I know that going solely to one party won’t mean I’ll miss out on another.  I put dresses and shoes on hold all over town because I just can’t decide in the moment which would be best for me. It took me four months to decide on a dog, and almost a year to make a condo choice, and then another chunk of months to settle on paint and furniture fearing I would miss out on just the right pup, the right colour and the right stuff.  I am pulling my hair out as this is no way to live and I know it!

FOMO (fear of missing out)

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Dear FOMO,

Fear of missing out is indeed a pesky little condition to overcome, good for you for identifying it and showing interest in turning it around. The motivation for this kind of behaviour is often related to experience – it’s about the fear of losing the chance to engage in one experience over another that could result in the greatest personal gratification.  So there’s a kind of impulsiveness to keep options open in the hopes of getting the best “gig,” but in the meantime the best “gig” might have passed you by.  What to do? Well, a few thoughts come to mind but you might want to chat with someone at EFAP about it as there’s likely more to it than what can be covered here.  First, I might suggest slow down – most of us move at a much faster pace today than is good for us.  Personally, I think that the Tinder mindset of finding someone with a swipe promotes this kind of behavior, but honestly once the swipe takes place there is a lot that needs to happen before a true relationship starts. So slow down, breathe, and smell the flowers. Think about your decision a little more fully before you act on it. Practice discernment. Look at what might be important versus what might be desirable. Move past just seeking pleasure and go for the soul. Pleasure is fun but honestly, not lasting – joy and fulfillment are lasting. And, finally, be willing to let go and not have it all. Desires are endless but needs are not. Decide on priorities and focus in on what you like, using a mindful approach. This encourages you to be in the moment, in the present tense, and not inching into the future or the conditional tenses where you have no control. Slow down and appreciate the present. Don’t avoid it, live in it. Once you appreciate where you are and reduce the fear or discomfort of being there, you will likely find that your fear of missing out will also dissipate.  Onward, and give us a call if we can help you out along the way.


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The advice offered in this column is meant to be used as general guidance based on the facts provided. The opinions or views expressed should not be relied on as treatment or counselling services. If you are a VCH staff member and find yourself in need of counselling or support, please contact EFAP toll free at 1-800-505-4929 or 604-872-4929, your family doctor, or another appropriately trained and qualified specialist.

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