Fear of Regret as a Stumbling Block to Committing to Cohousing

I received this email from Leah Fisher in response to my opening "Alleviating Fear" article in Cohousing Now! eNews (#71, 10/28/14). Leah makes a compelling case for "fear of regret" as a stumbling block in committing to cohousing, and suggests, "Support for dealing effectively with these concerns could be of great value to prospective members."

Dear Alice,
I was very drawn to your article about Fear related to co-housing, but I would like to suggest a more fundamental fear that I understand as a psychotherapist and that I experience personally with regard to co-housing. It is this: Fear of Regret.

I've been strongly attracted to co-housing for forty years (since a much admired former boyfriend helped found one of the first co-housing communities in the country); yet thus far I have not taken the plunge. Here's why. What if I were to downsize, move my reluctant husband into co-housing, give away much of the "stuff"to which I'm so attached, leave my neighborhood ... and then wish I hadn't done it? For me, regret is a harsh, niggling, merciless feeling. And here is another. What if I can't learn enough fast enough to adapt? What if my untamed emotions - competitiveness, envy, anger, impatience - marginalize me as one of the 'difficult' co-housing members?

Those are some of the safety issues that have kept me from choosing co-housing. Safety can certainly relate to external issues. But safety is also, and perhaps fundamentally, an internal and emotional matter. Support for dealing effectively with these concerns could be of great value to prospective members. How does one realistically assess one's suitability for this level of consensus living? How much does one need to learn, change, mature and what resources are available to help new members grow in these ways? Katie McCamant has described co-housing as the world's longest, hardest and most expensive self-improvement project. Ultimately, is it worth it? For me, and probably for others, this is where the fear lies.

Leah Fisher