- Do You Have Fear of Abandonment? (Signs and Ways to Overcome It)
- What is fear of abandonment
- How to handle the fear of abandonment
- 1. Recognize that you are worthy of love
- 2. Understand your fear to handle your fear
- 3. Accept that some level of fear may always exist.
- 4. Stop looking to your significant other for help in squelching your fears.
- 5. Use self talk to replace fear with positive thoughts.
- 6. Accept the idea of being alone.
- 7. Stop pursuing the emotionally unavailable.
- 8. Create a network of support.
- 9. Be mindful of behaviors that feed off of fear.
- Summing it up
- Where does fear of abandonment come from?
- Separation anxiety?
- Causes of separation anxiety?
- Consequences of separation anxiety?
- How do I recognize separation anxiety?
- How do you deal with separation anxiety? Treatment separation anxiety
- How A Fear Of Abandonment Can Affect A Relationship
- How to Move Past Fear of Abandonment
- Fear of Abandonment is a Widespread Issue
- What Is a Fear of Abandonment and What Does It Mean?
- How Will This Fear Impact My Relationships?
- Can This Affect Other Relationships?
- How Can I Have a Lasting Relationship?
- Am I Doomed?
- 16 Totally Normal Phobias You Didn’t Know Had Names
- On The Fear of Abandonment and Object Constancy
- What is Fear of Abandonment?
- It Started In Our Childhood
- HEALING THE VOID
- How Abandonment Works
- Emotional Abandonment
- Find a Therapist
- Abandonment Anxiety in Relationships
- Fear of Abandonment in Children
- Long-Term Effects of Abandonment Issues
- Causes of Autophobia
- Symptoms of the fear of abandonment phobia
- Overcoming the fear of abandonment
- How To Talk To Someone With Abandonment Issues
- Leave the conversation when it turns unproductive, even if they beg you not to.
- Tell them when you’re feeling trapped or manipulated
- Don’t take their bait.
- Signs Of Abandonment Issues
- 1. You Attach Too Quickly
- 2. You Move On Too Quickly
- 3. You’re A Partner Pleaser
- 4. You Stay In / Settle For Unhealthy Relationships
- 5. You Look For Flaws In Your Partner
- 6. You’re Reluctant To Fully Invest In A Relationship
- 7. You Avoid Emotional Intimacy
- 8. You Feel Unworthy Of Love
- 9. You’re Insecure
- 10. You’re Jealous Of Every Friend/Colleague/Acquaintance
- 11. You Struggle To Trust
- 12. You Get Separation Blues
- 13. You Visualize Your Partner Leaving You
- 14. You Overanalyze Things
- 15. You’re Hypersensitive To Criticism
- 16. You Have Repressed Anger
- 17. You’re Controlling
- 18. You Pick Unavailable Partners
- 19. You Sabotage Relationships At Every Opportunity
- 20. You Blame Yourself For Every Breakup
- How To Overcome Abandonment Issues
Do You Have Fear of Abandonment? (Signs and Ways to Overcome It)
There are some people that will have affairs because of their fear of abandonment. That may make zero sense to you, but here is why — they have such a deep fear of abandonment in their current relationship that they pursue outside relationships simultaneously, so that they have a back up relationship in case something happens with their current marriage or relationship.
In this article, I will look deeper into the cause and consequence of having the fear of abandonment and how to overcome this fear to lead healthy relationships again.
What is fear of abandonment
Bustle.com examined research on the topic of fear of abandonment and infidelity and stated the following:
People with abandonment issues and lower self-confidence are more likely to cheat.
This is obviously not a healthy way of dealing with fear of abandonment. It is harmful to the person who is being cheated on and also is mental torment for the person trying to manage and keep both relationships afloat. They are putting their relationship at stake, living a lie and obviously not dealing with their fear of abandonment in a healthy manner.
Signs of fear of abandonment
People with fear of abandonment can exhibit a variety of behaviors. Many of these behaviors are destructive to relationships, so the fear of abandonment should be recognized and dealt with appropriately for the sake of the relationship and both individuals involved in the relationship.
Below are some signs that someone has the fear of abandonment:
- Feel jealous often.
- Perceive others of the opposite sex as a threat to their relationship.
- Give too much or go overboard in the relationship.
- Have thoughts about their partner or spouse leaving them.
- Demand unrealistic amounts of time with their significant other.
- Have difficulty in completely trusting their partner or spouse.
- Look more at the faults in their spouse or partner than positive attributes (again this is about pushing away the person or failing to trust them completely).
- Have a hard time being alone if a relationship ends. Always look out for the next relationship or significant other to replace the one most recently lost.
- Have feelings of resentment if their significant other does an activity without them such as going out with friends.
- Feel unworthy, less than or unworthy of love.
- Have lower self-esteem/ self-confidence.
- End relationships before the other person can so that they have control over the potential abandonment.
- Move too quickly in relationships because they are fearful the person will leave the relationship if things don’t move to the next level fast enough.
- Stay in unhealthy or abusive relationships because of the fear of being abandoned or alone.
- Feel jealous of platonic relationships that their spouse or partner has, such as with work colleagues.
- Are controlling of their significant other, especially when it comes to their time and interaction with others.
- Overanalyze the relationship on a regular basis, often nit picking on the negatives or problems rather than focusing on the positive qualities within their partner and relationship.
- Will pursue relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable.
- Cheat on their spouse or partner.
An individual does not need to have all of these behaviors to have fear of abandonment issues. Some people with fear of abandonment issues possess only a few of these behaviors. However, having even a few of these behaviors is unhealthy and detrimental to their life and relationships.
There are also some people who will sabotage their own relationships by pushing away their partner or spouse. They may have undesirable behavior in order to test their partner. The result in these situations where the behavior escalates enough is that they were right, their partner left them. Unfortunately their spouse or partner leaving them was of their own doing because they were pushing things too far and subsequently pushing away the other person.
How to handle the fear of abandonment
Many people have fear of abandonment issues because they were abandoned earlier in life. It could have been a previous relationship, but likely the source is from childhood. Abandonment in childhood, for example, such as having a parent or both parents not participating in the childhood rearing, can cause deep seated psychological issues.
The key is recognizing that the fear of abandonment exists. Below are some tips on how to handle your fear of abandonment issues so that you can lead more healthy and fulfilling relationships.
1. Recognize that you are worthy of love
The underlying emotional battle with almost all who have fear of abandonment is their feeling that they are not worthy of being love. Their fear of abandonment likely stems from abandonment that happened sometime during childhood.
Because someone they were attached to left them (for whatever reason) and they subsequently were left feeling that they were not fully loved. The brain of a child thinks something along these lines “if he/she loved me then he (or she) wouldn’t leave me”. Leaving in the mind of a child means they were not fully loved. Even though this is likely not the truth, it is how the more simplistic mind of a child works.
As time goes on, they begin to wonder what it was that made them unlovable. Were they not pretty enough? Were they not smart enough? Were they not good enough? These thoughts can take root and carry into adulthood. The result is an adult who still feels that there is something about them that makes them not worthy of being loved completely and truly.
They often believe (subconsciously) that once in a relationship they need to control things so that the person doesn’t leave them. They will try to control their relationships and their significant other based on their fear of abandonment.
The first step in overcoming the fear of abandonment is to recognize that they are worthy of love.
Accept that you are worthy of love.
Everyone is worthy of love. There is no such thing as a perfect person. We all want to love and to feel loved. We all have flaws. Therefore love involves two flawed individuals. Each is worthy of love and being in a relationship.
You are worthy of love, flaws and all. It doesn’t mean that everyone needs to love you because that is unrealistic. However, there is someone out there for everyone. When you find that someone, remind yourself that you are worthy of the love and attention you receive. Reciprocate and care for the relationship. However, don’t allow it to become your identity or the center of your worth.
Become emotionally self reliant.
Your identity should never be solely tied to a relationship. It is part of who you are but it is does not define you. Make sure you can embrace these thoughts and know that you can be okay if you were to become single or alone. You do not base your worthiness on being in the relationship. Instead you are worthy because you are YOU and nobody else can be a better you.
Becoming emotionally self reliant may not come easy if you have been emotionally dependent in your current or past relationships. Therapy can be helpful if you are having difficulty in being emotionally self reliant. Becoming emotionally self reliant does not happen instantly, so be gentle with yourself in the process. One day at a time, and keep reminding yourself that you are responsible for your emotions and you are still an individual even if you are in a relationship.
Remind yourself as often as you need that it is not another person’s job to make you feel emotionally secure. Your emotional security comes first from you. You are an individual first and a partner second. Take ownership of your emotions and feelings. When fear starts to surface address those feelings rather than turning them into the unhealthy behaviors mentioned above such as jealousy, giving too much in the relationship or being preoccupied with thoughts of your significant other leaving you.
Being emotionally self reliant in a nut shell is taking responsibility for your emotions and doing so in a healthy way. It is no longer looking to your spouse or significant other to make you feel secure in the relationship. It is not their job to make you feel secure in the relationship. They cannot take away your fear.
You must deal with your fears in order to be emotionally self reliant. Handling the fear often involves understanding where your fear is rooted.
2. Understand your fear to handle your fear
Where did your fear of abandonment begin? What happened in your life that has made you feel this way? Were your fears at that time warranted? Are those fears carrying into your current life and relationships? Questions like these can help you understand where and when your fear began and how they are currently affecting you.
If you have an understanding of where and how they began, you can also begin to understand that they are not helping you at this time. These fears in some instances can never be fully erased, but dealing with them by uncovering the source and development of the fear can help you better dispel the fear when it arises. When you know the root of this fear is the cause, the fear is no longer helpful to your life.
Journal about your abandonment
Journaling about your abandonment is one way of uncovering all your feelings, emotions, and thoughts on this issue. If you are able to get them out on paper, you are helping your mind process through these fears and emotions. If you get emotionally stuck in this process or find that it is not helping enough, then find a therapist who can help you. One way or another you need to uncover and process these emotions in order to understand the root of your fear.
Understanding the root helps you recognize that it is no longer needed or helpful in the functioning of your current relationships, because it has caused unhealthy fearful actions. Here are some questions you can address while journaling.
- When did you first recognize the issue that caused your fear of abandonment?
- Have there been multiple times you have felt abandoned in life? If so, what were those experiences and how did you deal with them?
- Did you feel that your abandonment was your fault?
- What messages, false or not, did you tell yourself about the abandonment (particularly about the cause)?
- How has the abandonment earlier in life affected your relationships, both currently and in the past?
- What behaviors can you recognize that were caused by your fear of abandonment?
- What behaviors would you like to make yourself more conscious of in order to change them in regard to acting out of fear of abandonment in your current relationship?
- What things can you do today to stop unwanted behaviors that are based in fear of abandonment (for example: instead of demanding time with your partner when they want to be with their friends, you call friend to hang out)?
You can address one question or several during an single journaling session.
3. Accept that some level of fear may always exist.
To have fear is to be human. You may never fully eliminate your fear of abandonment, but you can have control over your reactions to the fear.
It is important to recognize when you are having those fearful moments in your relationship. For example, those moments of fear that cause you to want to control who your spouse is looking at, where they are going or what they are doing without you by their side. You have to recognize the unhealthy patterns of thought and understand where the root of that fear is based. Doing so can help you recognize that the fears and the subsequent thoughts to control your spouse or significant other are not healthy for the relationship.
Channel the thoughts into positive self talk. Tell yourself you are worthy of love. Also remind yourself that your worth is not based on a relationship. You can be okay in a relationship and you can be okay alone. Acknowledge the root cause of the fear and tell yourself it is no longer needed because it is not helping you function in a healthy manner in your relationships.
You may always have some level of fear because the fear of abandonment is so deep rooted and fear is a natural human reaction. But you can help yourself minimize its toll by not allowing it to control your thought patterns and behaviors any longer.
4. Stop looking to your significant other for help in squelching your fears.
In order to deal with your fear of abandonment, you need to stop looking to your significant other as your solution. If you are having fears of abandonment, you are not to place the responsibility on them to make you feel secure. You must stop the controlling behaviors that are based in fear and place the onus of your fear of abandonment back upon yourself.
Again, you circle back to reminding yourself of the cause of those fears and how they are no longer needed for your emotional health. In fact, holding onto those fears only hinders you.
Let go of the feelings that you are not worthy. Start by telling yourself you are worthy. Self talk can help you re-establish new ways of thinking when these thoughts of unworthiness based on fear pop into your mind.
5. Use self talk to replace fear with positive thoughts.
Self talk is incredibly powerful. It helps shape the way you think about yourself. Are you allowing your self talk to wallow in your fears, doubts, and negativity about yourself? If you are, it’s time to replace any of those thoughts with positive self talk.
Your goal with positive self talk is not to focus on the relationship because that is not the cause of your fear of abandonment. Your fear of abandonment is based on feelings of unworthiness which came about because of an abandonment earlier in life. You need to replace your negative and fearful thoughts with positive self talk regarding yourself and your worthiness.
Remind yourself that you are a person of worth. Look for positive attributes in yourself that are worthy of praise that you can refocus on when you have emotions about fear of abandonment settling upon you. Dispel the ugly feelings for abandonment and fear by replacing them with positive thoughts about yourself being a person of worth and value.
6. Accept the idea of being alone.
It is okay to be alone. You do not need another person in your life in order to be a person of value. You are worthy because you are you. It is okay to be single and it is okay to be in a relationship.
If you have a relationship that ends, then look for opportunity to embrace your season of being single and what that may look like for you. Find the positive in both single and involved relationship statuses, so that you can be okay either way. Your worth is not based on your relationship status.
Some people with fear of abandonment issues tend to seek relationships repeatedly with people who are emotionally unavailable.
Instead of seeking the emotionally unavailable, it’s time to break the cycle and seek out partners who are ready, willing and emotionally able to hold a relationship with you. If you have a long pattern of these unhealthy, emotionally unavailable relationships, then therapy can be quite helpful.
8. Create a network of support.
For some individual with fear of abandonment issues, they become highly entrenched in their romantic relationships because of their habit to give too much and their demand for their spouse or significant other’s time. This causes other relationships to fall by the wayside.
It’s hard to maintain friendships with others when you are obsessed with one person to the exclusion of others. Do you talk insensately about your significant other when you are with friends? Do you think non stop about your significant other when you are out with friends? These behaviors do not help you create meaningful relationships with others.
In order to have a balanced life, you need friends outside of one singular person. You need a network of people who can be your support system. That way if your romantic relationship fails, you have the encouragement, love and support from friends and family around you.
Make yourself open to other friendships by participating in activities that interest you. If you enjoy running, then join a running club that meets once a week. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or singing group. If you like to help others, then join a volunteerism organization such as the rotary or Junior League. These are just a few examples.
Don’t spend your time so involved with only one person that you fail to develop friendships during this season of your life because you need friends for every season of life. Your fear of abandonment causes you to fixate on your significant other and you want to spend all your time with this person. Loosen the reins and allow yourself to have time to foster friendships with others so that you and your significant other are not your only support network.
You need more people in life because you are not an island in this world. It is healthy to have friendships with others while you still maintain your romantic relationship.
9. Be mindful of behaviors that feed off of fear.
There are behaviors caused by fear of abandonment, as discussed previously. It is important to not only recognize that these behaviors have happened in the past, but to also become aware of them in the present.
Practice mindful awareness to catch yourself when you begin with these behaviors so you can stop them in their tracks. Remind yourself that you are acting based on your fear of abandonment issues and these behaviors haven’t helped you with your relationships in the past, nor will they help you in the future.
Talk to your fears and tell them you are taking control by changing you behavior today.
Summing it up
The fear of abandonment may be inside of you for a long time but by recognizing your self worth and understanding the root of the fear, you will be able to get over it and lead healthy relationships again.
Anyone who feels insecure will always be insecure if they only rely on others for security. Take control of your fear today by following my advice and you will see your relationships change.
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
|^||Bustle: Needy Partners Are More Likely To Be Having An Affair, Study Shows|
Where does fear of abandonment come from?
As a child, I wanted and expected that my mother would be a buddy who would “show me the ropes”, i.e., coach me in the ways of the world, help me figure out what my gifts, obligations, strong traits and weaknesses were so that I could be at ease in the world, or at least not make a fool of myself. I developed fear and anger when my wish to be like her was ignored. She was a solo act and even though I wanted to dress like her and feel secure, as she seemed to feel, in public, and to enjoy and be comfortable in other people’s company, she would elbow me out with a look or a nudge that I had learned to read accurately as “Who are you kidding?”. I was often the butt of jokes by her or her friends, in situations in which she would mildly protest while enjoying the joke that I was never “in on”, as I so wished to be. She often said she didn’t know how to proceed in situations that I knew would be solved with a phone call that she just didn’t feel like making, or even just a good guess backed by support no matter how it turned out. Once, my parents drove back home from a relative’s garden party without realizing they had left me there. My aunt had to call them, while I waited near the driveway so they wouldn’t have to get out of the car and pick me up at the house. I wanted to die of embarrassment as the car arrived with laughing people but no apology. I learned to not trust her, felt my father was weak against her, felt stupid or foolish for most of my life and felt “outside” all the time. Eventually, I found that I could stumble through the world, sweating profusely, worried about my imagined ugly features, feeling terribly insecure, but if I kept at it, I could attempt to achieve some of my goals, because I was alone in the world and I had to. I had a fairly good career but two unsuccessful marriages, partly because, as this article suggests, I chose people who were distant and selfish to some extent, not feeling worthy to choose a person who would love and support me emotionally, and toughed it out despite loneliness, frustration and the bewilderment that inevitably came. Always trying to “make him love me” over time, I chose austere mates who couldn’t really love anybody. I know now that it was likely because I experienced in childhood the same treatment. To this day, and I am 66 years old, I relate to broken people, outsiders and shy children moreso than the so-called normals. Part of my life was spent teaching, and you can bet the behavior of the adults in my early years informed me as to how NOT to teach, just as the fine, intelligent people I was privileged to meet later on glowed in my mind and methods in the classroom. Teaching helped me to replace some of the stupidity I experienced, with success and compassion, since I was determined that no child would struggle as I had with self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness and humiliation. I am still working on leaving the anger and disappointment of a childhood behind, but I think I will be more successful if I just consciously try to choose opportunities for happier times in the future that remains.
Thank you for sharing Christine. I can relate to you, I’m 45 and struggled very much with the effects of my past, up to today. Lost my mom when I was 4 and my father either ignored or attacked me all the time, it was a constant fear of being seen, just wanting to be invisible. God bless your heart. Simone.
Yes, I can also relate to your experience. I lived with my mother till she died when I was 12. I went to live with a father I barely knew. My father had remarried and both of them were extremely abusive and either ignored me or constantly attacked me. There was not the insult of constant laughter, but every day there was sullen rage, threats, insults and distain.
thats a lot for a comment
You are so strong, thanks for sharing this – proud of how far you have come <3
I have had some of the same experiences as Christine and can relate to her feelings. I severed ties to my parents 20 years ago because I realized that I didn’t matter much to them. I am only now aware of how much that abuse has affected my relationships. Thank you for sharing your story.
My mother left me for my grandparents to raise.They were poor and didn’t have much money and had 3 more mouths to feed.They did the best they could though and I thank God for them.I married young and divorced young,figured I better leave him before he leaves me.I actually remember saying those very words to myself . Hmmm,do you think I have issues? August 5,2017
I have been working through these childhood triggers & filters so I am so thankful to have found this article. Even though my dad and I really didn’t have much of a relationship after I was the age of 3, I never thought I had issues from it because I had true love & compassion for him. Growing up with a relationship with God, an old soul, & a natural wisdom- I understood the circumstances and how life happens sometimes, especially knowing my mom’s personality and his personality. Of course I forgave him for the hurt but let’s say I didn’t take it personal. How could I? He didn’t really know me. The past 3-5 years I have been taken on a journey from HELL just to finally realize that I live as a prisoner to my life filter “fear(illusion) of loss” and right when I think I am trekking along fine here comes the trigger flush to stop me in my tracks the sudden “fear of abandonment”. What I call “filter” is the tint (fear of loss) in which I live my life. I think it comes from my attachment to my mom from a young age. As you could guess, she was a single mom & has always been my best friend. Being served emotional/financial chaos was a norm in my childhood. My childhood was an extreme of love & free spirited adventure vibes with my best friend/mom or feeling extreme anxiety & misery watching the clock until she said she was off work. Sometimes making my presence to daycare owners, intolerable. She was the best mom but my perception sometimes was that I was 2nd important or the truth was being stretched to covers ones desire to do something without me. Maybe this subconsciously stems from my dad as well? She is extremely loving with a huge generous heart but she has also been accused of being in her own world. Momentary lapses of emotional distance. In a way I think that helped protect her. The way that is negativity damaging my present life though is my inability to LET GO. I hold on & I hold on tight. I am extremely nostalgic & romanticize the past. It’s the only constant. Being burned deeply by heart breaking regret in my adult life has only cemented this crutch in my life. What I refer to as the “trigger” fear(illusion) of abandonment is only applicable in my romantic relationships. Before I can even recognize it something alerts the red flag of possible “abandonment” “betrayal” and because of this I’ve attracted these situations into my adult life (which doesn’t really go in the direction we’re heading here!). I think it is only triggered within romantic relationships is because my mom has always been the epitome of loyal. She is the rock. Though this isn’t like my filter that doesn’t mean it is exclusive from that. Both of these things are interwoven. My mom said that I would go outside and yell for my dad as a little 3 year old & it would break her heart. Little did she know that the job he left for would turn sour & life would keep them separated indefinitely. I didn’t get the chance to ever see my dad again. I found his obituary when I was searching for addressed to invite him to my wedding (to the husband who eventually & is currently ghosting me different story). But because of my filter of attachment (hey good name) because of my relationship with my mom- the fear of abandonment becomes something that keeps me in relationships &/or attached to people because once they’re gone… they are gone. As we know until we deal with it- my husband I ultimately pushed into this (I almost hypnotically veered way independently almost leaving emotionally before I was left?)- has now ghosted me for 2.5 years, fell into his prescribed soil & another woman made him a father. Thank you Facebook for this information. While I brokenly fell into a relationship with someone who is emotionally distant as a human due to his social fears/fear of entrapment. Why hello 3rd trigger! Now I am trying to heal these things so I can leave a relationship that is out of alignment & live a LIFE FREE FROM ATTACHMENT!!! FREE TO THE FORCE OF TRUE LOVE! Should I just interrupt the feelings as soon as they arrive with affirmations of truth, pray, feel good, change the narrative until my brain rewires (unending process but you know)? Anything I am missing? God & prayers of course. Any wisdom from anyone is like sweet honey! I want to change my story.
I’m 30 years old and just found out that my story is the same my parents divorced when I was 7 and my dad died 4 years later he was very good to me and loved me but he was not around due to the divorce. I attach or hurry to attach to people because I want to feel secure fast as possible because of the pain in my chest and the fear which is the reason that drives them away (needy man is a major turn off for women) I noticed I have fear of abandonment only in romantic relationships and I have pushed people away with it all my life, after my last romantic relationship I found out there is something wrong with me
and it was the anxiety of being left alone it self that pushed people away…
its like you are depending on another person (like when you are a child) to make you feel safe and loved and now that I figured it out I’m on a journey to learn meditation which can calm your mind help you with self acceptance self esteem self worth self-love it helps to calm your emotions and so many other positive traits about controlling your emotions and fears, so that is my advice to everyone learn the ways of meditation learn to self-love forgive yourself for the past accept yourselves and be proud of who you are that’s the only way to be happy other people can’t do that for us.. and that pushes them away because we look week and dependent on their love and acceptance just like a child in adult’s body searching for the love of the parents
Im 23, although Im young and have not gone through as tough times as those in these comments and have not left the death of a parent. Ive always been the butt of the joke with my friends, my boyfriend and my family. I never felt like I had a place I could go without being made fun of, ignored or ditched. I develeped sever depression at a young age but didnt learn what it was I was feeling until I met my boyfriend. He suffered with it more then I. Within 2 years I learned if I continued to llive like this I would die early by my own hands and that terrified me enough to seek counciling. Although my couciler and I focused on my depresseion and my relationships with others we only glimsed at the idea that I needed acceptance from others. Its not until now that I realize I have a fear of abandonment and after reading this article I plan on seeking a therapist again to solve this constant stream of anxiety and depression. I realize that my 6 year relationship with my boyfriend, who is extremely independant and self assured, have issues because of my clingyness and lack of reasurance that I am loved and will continue to be. The struggle is real. If I didnt constantly examine how people preseve me in hopes to make all accept me. Id probibly have blue hair, a tattoo, have a girlfriend and have a successful att career going for me. But I have brown hair, non inked skin, average wordrobe, no art career and a struggling relationship with my boyfriend, a constant fear with losing my friends, and complete and utter fear of voicing my bisexuality.
Its time for a change I think. How about you?
Julie, i relate to your story so much! i was also always the butt of the joke to my family and friends, am nervous about my own bisexuality, and I also think I would have blue hair if i was more confident. My boyfriend of 2 years recently broke up with me because he blamed me for his own abandonment issues. I’m having trouble finding friends I trust and confiding in anyone because i’m in my own way. Just want you to know you’re not alone, we’re on this journey together, and everything will work out great 🙂
Hi my mother left me at 9 years of age to be bright up by my wonderful grandparents. I have struggled to cope with the fear of my partner leaving me or cheating on me . Not feeling secure in a relationship fearing the moment of are they going to leave me not love me as I hope they say they do.
my mother left at young age and my father busy with his own priorities…over the years ive pushed people away scared of commitment accuse a guy im dating of seeing other woman …..I just cant seem to get over the fear of abandonment and very bitter to both my so called parents
Hello…im having this issue more than usual. At least recently it’s been pretty worse than what it usually is. I have been dating this great guy for over a year. I’ve known him since high school. I’m 33yrs old now so it was quite some time ago lol
We crossed paths and we began to date. We do a lot together. We stay active and try new things together and we are always looking for a new adventure to share together. We both love similar things and are both very open to trying new things as well. He’s pretty much my best friend. We get sling very well and are extremely happy. Except recently. He is aware of my past. I haven’t exactly dated saints and have pretty much always been hurt and cheated on. A few times I put myself through staying in the relationship even after the cheating and lying.
It was about a year since I had last dated before I met my now boyfriend. And he’s truly great. I have 2 kids and he doesn’t have any. He treats my kids so well and he’s very supportive and tries to understand as much to his capabilities with some issues I have.
Like I said I didn’t exactly date saints. Most days I’m fine, but lately I have just had this huge anxiety of getting hurt. And I know my bf wouldn’t do anything like what others have to hurt me but that fear is still there.
I have been damaged repeatedly by the same type of people, over and over again. That I honestly expect him to hurt me the same way. Even though he doesn’t give me reason to. It’s a thick steel wall guard. I don’t behave this way on purpose. I would love nothing more than to not have these random episodes where I feel anxious and just freak out because something triggers some bad memory or experience. That I wish that I wouldn’t have these fears of getting hurt and just feeling not good enough. I want nothing more than to be able to just fall into his arms with complete trust that he is who he seems to be and I can be perfectly happy and safe in a relationship with him
….. but my own experiences have taught me otherwise over and over again. And that’s what makes me paranoid and act the way I do. Fear. I’ve been betrayed so many times. That I’m always thinking of what if’s and recently it’s teally taken a huge toll on our relationship.
He says he isn’t giving up but it’s really unfair to him when he isn’t anything like them. And I know this. I know he isn’t like them and I know it isn’t fair to my boyfriend to be going through this.
I just always have this fear that he will find better and I’m not good enough.
Any advice on how to stop thinking this way? On how to cope with it or just deal with it?
I believe that I’m dealing with this issue as well
How unkind in how you said alot for a comment to this responder.where is your compassion ?or have I read you wrong?.
I’m sorry…I wasn’t aware I was the only one making comments whether short or long.
Hit the comment button not reply in anyone else’s comment.
How unkind of you making SUCH a thoughtful comment! I applaud you
Thank you for these stories and this site. It helps to feel like I’m not alone.
Becomeing more aware of abandonment issues helps but it also makes them hurt more. ..More aware: I am the oldest of 4 ( my mom recently told me I was a mistake and she really didn’t want children at that time, that I kept her from having a career, but since she was then pregnant might as well start family, I never felt accepted by parents mom is a bit of a cold narcissist dad was warm but a partied. Thank god for the acceptance of my grandparents when I saw them. I am in my 50’s now. I feel overwhelmed when I like someone even though I just would be happy to be friends with him due to his marriage. Just seems like someone I can let my walls down with, But I always always choose unavailable people. I took a chance last husband ( have two great teenage girls) and he ended up being controlling and emotionally anusive to all of us. Still remain civil and as friendly as possible.
My first love relationship in high school he had alcohol issues like myself. We got along so well then he basically drooped our if school , abandoned me and then continued a destructive cycle and died in a car accident 3 months later. So I do have abandonment issues! I then continued drinking my life until I quit at 28. Which was a Blessing.
After that, I continued to Like another unavailable maniac. And then met the now ex-husband. Who I wish the best for him but he has no control over emotions. Seems to have some mental health issue.
I relate to emotionally wrecked people because that is where I am at, but when it is not about relations with others- I am very courageous and confident. Even now with relations I am a mess but, but I am much better than I was. Have had therapy to talk about my mother and my father.
But Today I also realized I keep friends away too , pretty much. So I am feeling very lonely Trust and worth issues. Never felt worthy grew up as a loner… so I am feeling this all today. My best friend is my oldest daughter but she needs her space and is going to college next year. ( the other has a social group of friends)
Having this forum to verbalize it now helps.
So this new friend , he is also sober and a actual nice person, or seems like so, and of course I come on so strong – I am just craving connection. Even if just as friends
When I like someone ( which evidently turns into stalking until I scare them away) I become an emotional mess; yet ..
when there isn’t anybody that I like and I am just living life between ‘crushes’.
(And then I am not in that fragile space of wanting this intimacy that I never really had but I seem to want it )
– when I don’t like anyone, ( which is a stage that can last for years) I am less emotionally insecure, it is just when the want for a relationship ‘ shows it’s head and life get overwhelming. Yet ** I don’t want to stay way from love anymore either. Probably just need more healing time now that I am more aware of abandonment theory.
Sorry to go on and on, but I definitely relate to these feelings. Thanks for listening.
I was put in a boarding school at the age of 5 for 13 years till age of 18. I was highly sensitive kid and quiet nature. I still remember my first day in boarding school. The image is imprinted vividly on
my mind. I can recreate the feelings too. That was the day it broke me and I have never been the same since. I missed home everyday and even when I was at home for vacation, I used to count the days left to go to school. I used all sorts of coping mechanism (subconsciously) to survive in that system. After many years it was all resurfacing and whenever I got close to a girl, I developed obsession and neediness. This happened to me twice before I realized that something was seriously wrong with me. With the third girl, I maintained my distance but it felt very artificial because I was not acting naturally. This time, even knowing what was wrong with me and trying to prevent neediness, I gave in when the pressure was cranked a little. I was only fixing the symptoms of my abandonment. This is when I realized that I need to face the real wound.
I can definitely identify with abandonment issues also. I was born into a dissolving marriage. I never knew my father at all. He left and that was it. My mother was not the warm supporting type. I’ve always had trouble fitting in, even now. My teaching jobs were very difficult and straining for me. I wish I had had a successful career. It’s been a rather difficult life. I have had 4 good sustaining family relationships in my life. Friends have come and gone. Even relatives move away. It’s really hard to have a feeling of security in this world except to trust solely in God. That keeps me steady. Without Jesus I would be totally lost. Prayer, reading the Bible, going to Church, praying the rosary, gratefulness to God for what blessings He has given me, that is what grounds me. He will not abandon us if we turn to him.
I am 70 and I am so insecure and it has cost me a lot lost a good Husband and now my children don’t trust me my worst fears have manifested in my life it so terrified me Thank You for your article
I am 67 years old. Still married to a man with a lot of issues. My Father and I had a great relationship. My Mother and I did not. She I believe always had wanted a son. She lived for TV Books and prescription drugs. She was very beautiful in her youth and never stopped talking about it. I looked like my Dad and she pounded me with that fact everyday. Why couldn’t you look like me. She terrorized me with books she read about ghost stories when I was very young and made fun of me when I got scared. I have a large nose and she did not want to spend money to fix it so she told me horrible things that made me fear wanting to have something done as I got older. When I was a baby she had a nanny because she did not want to take care of me claiming she was ill. She new I was made fun of at school and went in there screaming which made it worse so I started to lie and told her everything was ok. Soooo I had no friends at school no Mom and I was an only child and she would if she could not let me have any neighborhood kids over claiming she did not like them. I did have my Dad. I married young also had one son which she worshipped and tried to turn him against me. My husband was an alcoholic and still is working on being a better person. So yes I have abandonment issues. I am a very successful businesswoman.
My Mother died when I was 38 years old and I tried never to disrespect her. She died of lymphoma. My Father and I had a great relationship for the most part. I really loved him. Although when Mom was around it could get tough.
I wish I could not feel so desperate at times when I feel challenges to my near little world of people. Close friends husband son, long story he married a girl just like my mother. She estranged us for a long time but we talk everyday now. We also have 2 beautiful twin granddaughter. I guess it never leaves us. But I found if we try to be kind, kindness returns. I love helping people. I may not be gorgeous, but somehow someway I have a good heart and I think that trumps a lot of the toxic. Just wish I could control the bad days better. Good Luck to all of you life is not easy but its worth it.
Was researching today on Fear and abandonment and found this site and just reading it I found somewhere I finally fit…I am 49 years old and have so much internal anger and fear I don’t know where to turn anymore. My parents were constantly fighting when I was young, watched my father beat my mother drag her down the hallway, he used to kick the doors in when he got home. I lived in constant fear of him. When I was 13 I was asleep in my room and he walked into my room and knelt down by my bed drunk and just stayed there staring at me I could smell the alcohol on him and I kept saying its me what are doing…then all of he sudden he got up and walked out and I ran to my moms room (they were divorced by then and we lived in the same house but they were in different rooms go figure) and after that day its been a long road of abandonment issues, fear of men, and the mentality the I am getting out of this relationship before you leave. I had two children (never married) both girls and when my oldest was 18 she left abruptly to go with then Husband, devastated me, then my youngest at 18 left abruptly the same thing and I was destroyed I felt alone. My oldest daughter gave birth to a son and when I saw him I feel in love, I was so drawn to him the 1st boy in our family, in the beginning she was so close to him but as he got older and his looks changed to resemble his father her attitude towards him changed and I was always picking him up every weekend just to see him. Eventually she got a new boyfriend who didn’t like my grandson so I stepped in to help her watch him again didn’t want to be alone. I have had him living with me since he was two years old, he is now 7 going on 8 and now he tells me he wants to go and live with his mom and when he said that I couldn’t help but take it personally. I watched him, taken him to school, did everything I could to make him happy and not feel that he wasn’t enough for his mom to take care of him and now he wants to go home. I know that he doesn’t do it out of spite but maybe he feels rejected by her and wants her love but I can’t help but be selfish for my own feelings of being alone again. I fear the feeling of just now that I am older I don’t know how to be alone, I had my children at 18 and now that I am 49 just unsure of how to step back now and let her take over, not sure she wants to either. Not sure where to turn now.
This is a fantastic article. Thank you so much!
What to do:
1. Stop beating yourself up. Fear of abandonment is involuntary. You didn’t cause it. It’s not something you signed up for. It found you.
2. Accept this fear as part or being human. Give yourself unconditional self love and compassion rather than judge yourself as “weak.”
3. Choose to stop laying your insecurity at your partner’s (or anyone else’s) feet.
4. This means taking 100% responsibility when your fear erupts rather than expecting your partner to “fix it” (even if he triggered it).
5. Vow to use abandonment fear as an opportunity to develop emotional self reliance.
6. Approach your partner with self-confidence born of self-responsibility.
7. This doesn’t happen by osmosis, but by becoming actively engaged in abandonment recovery. The tools help you systematically administer to your own emotional needs so you don’t have to rely on your partner to do it.
8. Exude the reality that it’s no one else’s responsibility but yours to make you feel secure. The minute you look to your partner for the solution (and she doesn’t comply), you give your power away.
9. Take the leap of emotional self reliance but be accepting of yourself in the process. We don’t accomplish this perfectly or for once and for all. The road to emotional self-reliance is slow, steady, and sporadic.
10. When you catch yourself once again looking to your partner for reassurance, just re-direct! Get back on track! Become 100% responsible for your own wellbeing.
11. Transforming abandonment fear into emotional self-reliance involves radical acceptance of your separateness as an individual. This empowers you to stop laying your insecurity at the feet of your partner and take responsibility for your own emotional needs. The hands-on exercises are there to help you become self assured and increase your love quotient.
The fear of abandonment is a no laughing matter. While most of us have experienced abandonment in some form or another, we all cope with our fears differently. A person with abandonment issues is not necessarily someone who was abandoned by his parents as a child. It could be someone
- who grew up with neglectful parents,
- buried someone he or she loved,
- experienced acute pain of loneliness when his or her best childhood friend moved away,
- was rejected by someone he or she loved,
- or it could be someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (more on BPD here).
Not every person who had to live through these unpleasant experiences will develop the fear of abandonment, and even if they do, the severity of their symptoms may vary greatly. Some of the common symptoms include:
- extreme jealousy or clingy behavior in romantic relationships,
- pretending like you don’t care about your spouse when you actually do,
- rejecting your partner before he or she can reject you,
- avoiding getting close altogether,
- desperately trying to make a lot of friends so you can never be alone,
- extreme insecurity,
- underestimating yourself,
- becoming too complacent and putting up with mistreatment in workplace,
- anxiety and depression.
Seemingly happy and carefree individuals such as “the life of the party” or a non-committal boyfriend may very well be suffering from the fear of abandonment. Not everything is always as it seems. Sometimes you need to look beyond the mask to see the real person.
Having said that, don’t get carried away trying to diagnose the fear of abandonment in your ex. The fear of abandonment or even abandoned child syndrome are not officially recognized as mental disorders and are a subject of speculation. If you suspect that you have some of these symptoms, you may want to consider to work through these issues with a professional counselor.
- How to Deal With Rejection
- Overcome Fear of Abandonment and Enjoy Your Relationships (instant hypnosis download)
- Healing the Past (hypnosis pack)
- The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life by Susan Anderson
You may also like: Crazy in Love: Four Psychological Love Disorders
Separation anxiety often occurs combined with other symptoms of anxiety. Separation anxiety can be a problem on its own, or a symptom of a larger problem. If you suffer from this anxiety, it often has to do with a bonding issue coming from a young age. Because of insecure interactions during your youth, it can be so that you experience separation anxiety at a later age.
Causes of separation anxiety?
The causes of separation anxiety can be diverse. As described earlier, it can be caused by insecure bonding in childhood years. Children, whose parents were alternating between being present and absent, can experience issues with this anxiety. Insecure bonding is characterized by emotional insecurity. You never know when someone is or is not available to support you. Oftentimes, insecure bonding in relationships is also characterized by attracting and pushing away.
If you have experienced such insecurity during your childhood years, it can be so that you feel insecure about your relationships at a later age. The thought that someone might leave you at any moment is constantly on your mind.
Another cause of separation anxiety is borderline. Borderline namely has the symptom of attracting and pushing people away. If you have borderline, it can be so that you really like someone at one moment, and at the next moment you are repulsed by this person. Relationships are very unstable with people with borderline.
Consequences of separation anxiety?
If you suffer from separation anxiety, this is likely that it has a large influence on your relationships. People with this anxiety are also likely to distance themselves, out of fear of being left by themselves. By pushing people away, they feel a little safer. They also feel less abandoned that way.
People with this anxiety often feel very lonely and find it difficult to maintain relationships. Relationships are often short and unstable.
How do I recognize separation anxiety?
The following symptoms can help you recognize separation anxiety:
- You have been alone for some time and make little effort to get to know someone.
- While you do go on dates, you never are in serious relationships.
- You experience a suffocating feeling when you think of bonds like living together.
- You prefer friends over an eventual partner.
- You have issues with intimacy.
- Making future plans is difficult for you.
How do you deal with separation anxiety? Treatment separation anxiety
There are different forms of treatment, which have been proven to be effective when it comes to separation anxiety. A small step that can be taken toward getting help is found in looking for treatment online. Because of the increased levels of technology used in treatment, there nowadays are therapies which you can follow online. “15Minutes4Me.com” developed an online self-help program which helps you to treat anxiety from home. Research has shown that “15Minutes4Me.com” is an effective treatment in minor and mild forms of anxiety.
Also, test your anxiety on the site with the help of our free anxiety test. The test takes about 5 minutes and will let you know immediately whether or not your anxiety levels are healthy. After the test, Paul Koeck, MD, provides a short explanation.
How A Fear Of Abandonment Can Affect A Relationship
By Mary Elizabeth Dean
Updated November 07, 2019
Reviewer Ann-Marie Duncan
If you struggle with a fear of abandonment, you probably know it can wreak havoc on a relationship. The constant worry that your partner will leave you can ironically drive them away. Sometimes you may even leave them just to avoid them leaving you. But no matter the cause of your fear of abandonment, you have options to get help. You are a whole person worthy of love and affection, and you should be able to enjoy meaningful intimacy without the sabotage of fear. This article will help you better understand how a fear of abandonment can affect a relationship and how to move forward.
Fear Of Abandonment Can Take Over Your Thoughts And Your Life
How to Move Past Fear of Abandonment
Fear of abandonment usually begins in childhood, so it’s understandable that moving beyond it may take some work. The good news is, if you enlist the proper help and take the right steps, you will open your eyes to a whole new way of thinking, which can bring about healthy, long-lasting relationships.
The first step is recognizing your problems. Once you know the monster you’re fighting, you can arm yourself accordingly. There are several steps you can take to defeat a fear of abandonment. A few examples include rebuilding your confidence, learning to trust again, and letting go of the past.
We’ll talk more about these suggestions later in the article.
Fear of Abandonment is a Widespread Issue
Fear of abandonment robs you of your inner peace and makes it difficult to thrive in a relationship. Even if you meet the most dedicated person, you’ll feel isolated. But you’re not alone. Most of us can relate to this feeling and have had to deal with it at one point or another.
For those who allow fear to take over their lives, there’s hope. With the help of therapy and a little patience, many people have discovered newfound love and life. If you are willing to utilize the tools and let someone in to help you, you’ll be able to experience this, too!
What Is a Fear of Abandonment and What Does It Mean?
Abandonment fear often stems from worries that a loved one will leave us. This worry can be caused by inadequate physical and emotional care throughout one’s childhood. If you had a parent abandon your family when you were little, you saw first hand the damage that abandonment can cause. It affects the entire family, mother, and children, and throws off the balance of the home. Such children develop a mistrust of adults. The fear of abandonment grows as they begin to worry who the next person to leave them might be.
Your fear of abandonment might prevent you from forming trusting bonds. You may begin to feel as though you’re incapable of being loved, and this would then in turn negatively affect your self-esteem and self-image. Then, with low self-esteem coupled with a difficult childhood, you might develop this fear of abandonment and the fear you’re going to spend the rest of your life alone.
How Will This Fear Impact My Relationships?
One might think this fear would dissolve in the presence of a committed relationship, but that’s not usually the case. Those fears can manifest in ways where the person firmly believes their partner will leave them and that it’s just a matter of when, not if. So, they live each day worrying about being abandoned and not being able to give all of themselves to their relationship. They accuse their partners of cheating or making attempts to leave them. They feel as though they’re unable to trust their partner’s word, as their trust was broken by others in the past.
However, what this does is create a rift between them and their partner and will make the prophecy self-fulfilling. By living as though their relationship is ending, they end the relationship. They usually don’t see how they contributed to their relationship’s demise. They just simply believe they are “doomed” in a relationship, they are “unlovable,” and that everyone in their life leaves them without explanation. Therefore, without having this insight, the issues at hand will not be rectified and they will move onto the next relationship and the struggles continue.
Can This Affect Other Relationships?
The answer is yes. Most people who have a fear of abandonment do not only have this fear with a romantic partner. It could also manifest with parents, friends, and children. Usually, these fears develop throughout a person’s childhood. Often, there is a parent absent from the home or may leave home suddenly and without warning. When this occurs, that child feels abandoned by their parent. However, if this parent also comes and goes throughout the child’s life, they may not trust their parent is going to stay around.
Fast forward to teenage years, and you have someone with the potential to be a very clingy friend. They may want to always be around their friends and get upset if their friend makes a new friend for fear they’ll be left behind. If their friend knows their family history, they may understand this clinginess, but it may also become annoying. If that’s the case, they may cease the friendship. That would then become a loss, and to that teenager, further reinforce their fears. Without having the insight into how they contributed to that loss, the cycle will continue.
Once into adulthood, they are in and out of relationships due to their abandonment fears. They become involved with a person whom they have difficulty trusting and whom they think will abandon them. They fear intimacy and are afraid to love. Without being able to reciprocate feelings, their partner leaves. They continue to avoid responsibility for the downfall of yet another relationship and the cycle continues. Unfortunately, this can continue for all relationships in a person’s life until they finally realize how they may be contributing to this cycle of “everyone” leaving them. True, they could not control the behaviors of their parent, but recognizing that this is where these feelings began, and that they do not need to continue is key. Once this is realized, the rebuilding can begin, and they can live a happy and healthy life with a life-long partner.
How Can I Have a Lasting Relationship?
The very first step toward enjoying life with someone is to be able to squash that fear of them leaving you. It’s much easier said than done. However, it must be done. You need to rebuild your confidence, both in yourself and in your relationships. You need to be able to understand that you are, in fact, lovable and worthy of love.
Fear Of Abandonment Can Take Over Your Thoughts And Your Life
By improving your self-esteem, you will learn to understand that you do deserve love and you need to find someone who is worthy of your love. Only by doing so will you be able to feel as though you should be in a committed relationship. This may not be something you can do on your own.
Through BetterHelp, you can access licensed therapists available to provide online counseling about this very topic. Online counseling is completely professional and private but provides full therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home.
The next step is hard. You need to be able to trust. For some people, this is a humongous struggle, especially if their past trust in people has been betrayed. However, each new person in our lives is worth a new effort. We cannot punish them for mistakes someone else made. Instead of living each day waiting for them to leave you, put forth all the effort possible to try to keep them in your life.
This doesn’t mean you should put up with actions that are abusive or make you feel uncomfortable. But rather, do not set your relationship up for failure before it’s truly had the chance to begin. As mentioned above, utilizing licensed therapists is an ideal way to address these issues. The therapy can be both one-on-one with a therapist, as well as couples counseling to build upon your relationship.
Am I Doomed?
Of course not! At any given moment, anyone can change. It can happen even without support and guidance of a professional, but it will not be easy, which is why getting help from a professional is recommended.
Once you let go of that fear, you’ll feel as though a heavy weight has been lifted off your chest, and you’ll find yourself seeking those relationships you’d like to last a lifetime. You’ll wholeheartedly believe you deserve that love, and you’ll be able to work toward strengthening that relationship, rather than sabotaging it with fear.
Remember, there are people in your life that love and care about you. And again, you can utilize the help right here at BetterHelp, as well as any licensed therapist, to build yourself back up again. Fears can be debilitating, but overcoming a debilitating fear can be an exhilarating feeling and is so worth it in the long run.
How BetterHelp Can Help
Once you’ve decided to take control of your inner peace, you might need a guide. With the help of a licensed counselor or therapist from BetterHelp, you will be able to reach out to someone from the comfort of your own home and start your journey immediately. Read below for some reviews on BetterHelp counselors.
“Kara has provided a safe space for me to express my fears and anxiety. She has provided me tools to help manage my anxiety and continues to support me.”
“Brandon has been great and really instrumental in helping me get through a difficult period in my life. He is non judgmental, responsive and a great listener. He is also great at reading into what you are saying and finding the underlining cause of your fears and helping you work through it. I’m excited to continue the work to heal with the help of Brandon.”
For anyone struggling with a fear of abandonment, the road to freedom can seem daunting. But with the right guidance and a little faith, you can leave all your problems in the past. You don’t have to live in fear for another second. Take the first step today.
16 Totally Normal Phobias You Didn’t Know Had Names
Who says phobias have to be weird? Everyone’s scared.
The fear of being or staying single. You know, like, forever.
The fear of being forgotten, ignored, or abandoned. This phobia has a theme song.
A fear of slime. Watching old episodes of You Can’t Do That on Television might be just what the doctor ordered.
The fear of being laughed at. Incidentally, there’s no fear of being laughed with.
The fear of growing old. You’ll grow into—and out of—it.
The fear of speaking in public. Statistics say it’s the #1 phobia of Americans, followed by thanatophobia, fear of death.
The fear of Greek terms or complex scientific terminology. Perhaps it’s just fear of mispronouncing them!
The fear of failure or defeat. Hard to overcome. Harder to say.
The fear of childbirth. If you don’t suffer from this, you’re probably a man.
A fear of long waits. See also: fear of going to the DMV.
A fear of change. Often irrationally coupled with fear of things staying the same.
The fear of dark wooded areas or of forests at night. This one’s endorsed by the horror movie industry.
A fear of gaining weight. Interestingly, there’s no official fear of going to the gym. (Gymnophobia is the fear of nudity.)
The fear of being stared at. Does not include being stared at admiringly.
The fear or abnormal dislike of politicians. A truly bipartisan concern.
A fear of relatives. This tends to flare up during the holidays.
On The Fear of Abandonment and Object Constancy
What is Fear of Abandonment?
Fear of abandonment, to its excess, could show up as a lingering feeling of insecurity, intrusive thoughts, emptiness, unstable sense of self, clinginess, neediness, extreme mood fluctuations and frequent relationship conflicts. On the flip side, we might cope by cutting off completely, and become emotionally numb.
Anxiety is a normal part of being in an intimate relationship. It usually comes in two forms- the fear of abandonment, and the fear of engulfment. If our previous experience in life or childhood was unstable or if we had unreliable caregivers, in relationships we fear we will be abandoned. If our parents were controlling or we grew up in an enmeshed household environment, we will fear when people come too close we will be swamped, lose our sense of self or independence.
People with anxious- preoccupied attachment tend to experience a lot of fears over abandonment and rejection. While people with other attachment styles also have the same fears, people with this attachment pattern tends to feel them more consciously and have developed persistent emotional and behavioural patterns around these fears. In contrast to avoidant people who are excessively independent, anxiously-preoccupied people may seek constant assurance, approval from their partners, and become overly dependent..
Here are some ways the fear of abandonment may have affected your life and relationships:
You attach easily and sometimes trust people who were not ready for intimacy to begin with.
You may also overstay in relationships that you know are unhealthy for you. When the relationship breaks down, you blame yourself and believe it was because you were not good enough.
Sometimes, you feel like you are re-creating the psychodynamic with parents who were inconsistent in their love.
You feel a deep sadness and hollowness when people you are attached to are not physically by your side. You find it difficult to have a sense that others hold you in mind when they are away, but you also don’t want to come across as being jealous and possessive.
You feel triggered by even the subtlest signs of criticisms. You experience ‘flashbacks’— visual or emotional — of the humiliation you had in childhood. When others don’t explicitly express praise or affections, you feel rejected; but when they compliment you or express love for you, you are not able to trust them.
You compare yourself to others often and feel like you are less desirable or lovable. You have a harsh inner critic that continuously criticise or threatens you. You may seek constant validation and reassurance from your partner, to the point where it gets tiring for both of you.
You are hypervigilant and are always watching out for signs that your partner is losing interest in you. You are suspicious when your partner is not around, responding to you or reply to your messages. You may challenge them or demand excessive contact from them. Your insecurity tends to backfire; your anxiety aggravates your partner, and they are frustrated that you do trust them more.
At times you behave in ways that are resentful and angry when your partner doesn’t give you the attention you want and when you need it; you may later regret your reactions because your anger makes them distance themselves even more.
You don’t believe that you are good enough, so you overcompensate by being compliant and agreeable, sometimes disowning your needs. Resentment builds in the background, and you may suddenly have an anger outburst and surprises yourself and those around you.
Your feelings towards another person tend to swing between extremes, one day, they are the love of your life, and the next day you decide to withdraw your trust completely. On some days, complete dependence feels like the only option while on another day you do to want to invest any hope in the relationship.
It Started In Our Childhood
Neuroscientists have found that our parents’ response to our attachment-seeking behaviours, especially during the first two years of our lives, encode our model of the world. If as infants, we have healthy attachment interactions with an attuned, available, and nurturing caregiver, we will be able to develop a sense of safety and trust. If our parent were able to respond to our calls for feeding and comfort most of the time, we would internalize the message that the world is a friendly place; when we are in need, someone will come and help us. We would also learn to calm ourselves in time of distress, and this forms our resilience as adults. If, in contrast, the message that we were given as an infant was that the world is basically unsafe and that people cannot be relied upon, it would affect our ability to withstand uncertainty, disappointments and relationships ups and downs.
Most people are able to withstand some degree of relational ambiguity, and not be entirely consumed by worrying about potential rejection. When we have an argument with our loved ones, we can later bounce back from the negative event; When they are not physically by our side, we have an underlying trust that we are on their mind. All these involve something called Object Constancy– the ability to maintain an emotional bond with others even where there are distance and conflicts.
Object Constancy originates from the concept of Object Permanence— a cognitive skill we acquire at around two to three years old. It is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, touched, or sensed in some way. This is why babies love peekaboo- when you hide your face, they think it has ceased to exist. According to psychologist Piaget, who founded the idea, achieving Object Constancy is a developmental milestone. To learn more, there are plenty of youtube videos of babies demonstrating this.
Object Constancy is a psychodynamic concept, and we could think of it as the emotional equivalence of Object Permanence. To develop this skill, we mature into the understanding that our caregiver is simultaneously a loving presence and a separate individual who could walk away. Rather than needing to be with them all the time, we have an ‘internalized image’ of our parents’ love and care. So even when they are temporarily out of sight, we still know we are loved and supported. In other words, with Object Constancy we are able to experience things and people as reliable and constant.
In adulthood, Object Constancy allows us to trust that our bond with those who are close to us remains whole even when they are not physically around, picking up the phone, replying to our texts, or even frustrated at us. With Object Constancy, absence does not mean disappearance or abandonment, only temporary distance. People with a secure early attachment could locate a sense of trust from within themselves, rather than relying on the constant reassurance from another.
For all of us, the fear of abandonment begins when we were thrown into the cold, alien world from our mother’s womb. Since no parent could be available and attuned 100% of the time, we all suffer at least some minor bruises in learning to separate and individuate. However, if we had experienced more severe early or even preverbal attachment trauma, have extremely inconsistent or emotionally unavailable caregivers, or a chaotic upbringing, our emotional development might have been stunted at a delicate age, and we never had the opportunity to develop Object Constancy.
“Since the earliest period of our life was preverbal, everything depended on emotional interaction. Without someone to reflect our emotions, we had no way of knowing who we were.”
– John Bradshaw
If we have an insecure attachment, any kind of distance, even brief and benign ones, can trigger us to re-experience the original pain of being left alone, dismissed, or disdain. Our fear could trigger survival strategies such as denial, clinging, avoidance and dismissing others, lashing out In relationships, or the pattern of sabotaging relationships to avoid rejection.
Without Object Constancy, we relate to others as ‘parts,’ rather than ‘whole.’ Just like a child who struggles to comprehend the mother as a complete person who sometimes rewards and sometimes frustrates, we struggle to hold the mental idea that both themselves and ourselves have both good and bad aspects. We may experience relationships as unreliable, vulnerable, and heavily dependent on the mood of the moment; There seems to be no continuity in the way they view our partner- it shifts moment to moment and is either totally good or bad.
Without the ability to see people as whole and constant, it becomes difficult to evoke the sense of the presence of the loved one when they are not physically present. The feeling of being left on our own can become so powerful and overwhelming that it evokes raw, intense and sometimes child-like reactions.
When abandonment fear is triggered, shame and self- blame closely follow, further destabilizing us. Because the origins of these strong reactions were not always conscious, it would seem as though we were ‘unreasonable,’ ‘immature.’ In truth, if we think of them ourselves as acting from a place of repressed or dissociated trauma; and consider what it was like for a two-year-old to be left alone or be with an inconsistent caregiver, the intense fear, rage, and despair would all make sense.
“She held herself until the sobs of the child inside subsided entirely. I love you, she told herself. It will all be okay.”
― H. Raven Rose
HEALING THE VOID
Fear of abandonment itself is not a pathology. It is a natural part of the human psyche and is hardwired into our survival mechanism. On the most primitive level, the idea of being abandoned and left entirely and forever alone fill us with terror. It signifies an existential death, an annihilation- a feeling that we would cease to exist.
However, to have mature, fulfilling relationships, we must learn to trust and love without being immobilized by excessive anxiety.
A big part of developing Object Constancy is to have the ability to hold paradoxes in our mind. We ought to embrace the fact that both ourselves and others are complex beings finding our ways in a fluid and ever-changing dynamic dance. The same way the caregiver who feeds us is also the one who fails us, we must come to grapple with the truth that no relationship or people are all good or all bad.
If we are able to hold both the faults and the virtues in ourselves and others, we would not have to resort to the primitive defence of ‘splitting,’ or black-or-white thinking. We do not have to devalue our partner because they have disappointed us completely. We could also forgive ourselves- just because we are not perfect all the time does not mean we are, therefore ‘bad,’ or unworthy of love.
Our partner could be limited and good enough at the same time.
They could love and be angry at us at the same time.
They might need to distance themselves from us sometimes, but the foundation of the bond remains solid.
For a moment, tune into your breathing, and observe how like a human relationship, and everything else in nature, there is a natural ebb and flow. The gradations in life are numerous and varied. We need to breathe to breathe out, contract to expand. A healthy relationship requires a dynamic flow between closeness and distance, ups, and downs, disappointment, and fulfillment. No one or no relationship is a static one thing. If we think of our relationship as a dance or music— there is no closeness without distance, no music without the intervals. If we fixate only on the times we are together and ignoring the empty spaces, we stifle the pulsation, and eventually squander the relationship.
The next critical step of healing from abandonment fears is to cultivate self-reliance. Fear of abandonment fear is over-powering because it brings back the deep trauma that we carry from when we were a little child, being thrown into this world as helpless beings, utterly dependent on those around us. But we must acknowledge that some of our fears no longer reflects our current reality. Although there is never absolute certainty and safety in life, we are an adult now and have different choices. We have strength, we have resilience, we have autonomy and freedom.
As adults, we could no longer be ‘abandoned’- if a relationship comes to an end, it is the natural consequences of a mismatch in two people’s values, needs, and life paths.
We could no longer be ‘rejected’- for the value of our existence does not depend on the opinions of others.
We could no longer be engulfed or trapped- we can say no, set limits, and walk away.
As a resilient adult, we could cradle the two-month-old inside of us that was terrified of being dropped; We learn to stay inside of our bodies even in fear without dissociating; and we could stay in relationships with others even in the midst of uncertainty, without running away into avoidance and defences.
Rather than getting stuck in a search for the ‘missing piece,’ we come to recognize ourselves as a whole and integrated being.
The trauma of being dropped and left alone has passed, and we are given the opportunity for a new life.
We are now strong enough, vast enough, and resilient to surf the wave of human life.
“The sun loved me again when it saw that the stars would not abandon me.”
– Jenim Debie
If you identify with some of the above, I hope this piece serves as a source of hope. We are all a work in progress, and none of us has the perfect attachment, perfect history, or perfect relationship. It is never too late for insights and change.
As I Began To Love Myself
As I began to love myself, I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is AUTHENTICITY.
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it RESPECT.
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it MATURITY.
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it SELF-CONFIDENCE.
As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it SIMPLICITY.
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is the LOVE OF ONESELF.
As I began to love myself I quit trying always to be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is MODESTY.
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it FULFILLMENT.
As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection WISDOM OF THE HEART.
We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know THAT IS LIFE!
Abandonment fear often stems from childhood loss. This loss could be related to a traumatic event, such as the loss of a parent through death or divorce. It can also come from not getting enough physical or emotional care. These early childhood experiences can lead to a fear of being abandoned by others later in life.
- How Abandonment Works
- Emotional Abandonment
- Abandonment Anxiety in Relationships
- Fear of Abandonment in Children
- Long-Term Effects of Abandonment Issues
How Abandonment Works
Healthy human development requires needs for physical and emotional care to be met. Unmet needs can result in feelings of abandonment. Experiencing abandonment can become a traumatic life event. The death of a parent can be a traumatic event for a child. Feeling unsafe due to a threatening situation like abuse or poverty can also cause trauma.
Some degree of abandonment fear can be normal. But when fear of abandonment is severe and frequent, it can cause trouble. It may impact how a person’s relationships develop. When this is the case, the support of a therapist or counselor may help.
A pattern of emotional abandonment or neglect can also be traumatic. It can qualify as a form of abandonment. Emotional abandonment can occur when parents:
Find a Therapist
- Stifle their children’s emotional expression
- Ridicule their children
- Hold their children to standards that are too high
- Rely too heavily on children for their own sense of worth
- Treat their children as peers
People who felt abandoned as children may be more likely to repeat this pattern with their children. But some emotionally abandoned children recognize this pattern. They can go on to nurture their own children and break the cycle of abandonment. Many of these signs of abandonment may also play out between people in a relationship.
Stress or overwhelm can contribute to emotional abandonment. People with unmet needs often have a difficult time meeting the needs of others. Practicing self-care is an important part of making sure one’s own needs are met. The person who practices self-care can then meet the needs of their child or partner in a healthy way.
Abandonment Anxiety in Relationships
Adults who did not experience abandonment as children may still have feelings associated with abandonment. These can come from losing an intimate partner to separation, divorce, or death. Abandonment may occur in childhood or adulthood. Either way, the impact can be pervasive. It may negatively affect any other relationships a person develops, whether they are intimate, social, or professional.
Fear of abandonment can impact an otherwise healthy relationship. People may worry their partner is having an affair. This anxiety can come from experience with previous affairs. It may also come from previous loss or anxiety issues. Adults who are afraid of being abandoned may work to keep their partner from leaving. They may pour hard work and effort into the relationship. Then, they might worry their partner does not appreciate or reciprocate their efforts.
Signs abandonment may be affecting a relationship include:
- One partner “gives too much” or is a “people pleaser”
- Envy of other people’s relationships
- Feelings of insecurity in the relationship
- Lack of emotional intimacy
- A need for one partner to control the other
- Settling in a less-than-satisfactory relationship
People who were abandoned as children may also seek partners that treat them in a similar way. This can lead to a cycle of abandonment. A cycle like that may be difficult to get out of.
Fear of Abandonment in Children
Children may worry about their parents abandoning them. This can be natural, as children form attachments to their parents from birth. Young children may get anxious about their parents leaving for a short trip. They may get anxious when a parent drops them off at daycare or school. It is possible for children not to be impacted long-term by these worries. This can mean making sure they have a secure caregiver attachment. This will help them learn social skills and have healthy relationships later in life.
Signs a child may have abandonment issues include:
- Clinging or separation anxiety
- Worrying or panic
- Fear of being alone
- Getting sick more often due to stress
- Difficulty concentrating
If your child shows these signs, there are things you can do to help. It is possible to address fear of abandonment early. This can help children form a secure attachment. One way to help children with this fear is to reassure them of your love and role in their life. Parents may also find it helpful to let children know what the “plan” is on any given day. Knowing what to expect may help children feel reassured of their parents’ presence. They may start to feel more secure even when their parent or caregiver is not present.
Some children experience what is called “abandoned child syndrome.” This may take place after the loss of a parent or caregiver. It can also develop due to physical or emotional abandonment by a parent. Symptoms may show as isolation, low self-worth, and unhealthy coping mechanisms like eating issues or addiction. If not addressed early, symptoms may become severe and make it difficult to form relationships or lead a healthy life.
Long-Term Effects of Abandonment Issues
A person who has experienced abandonment may be more likely to have long-term mental health issues. These are often based on the fear that abandonment will recur. A child who was abandoned by a parent or caregiver may have mood swings or anger later in life. These behaviors can alienate potential intimate partners and friends. A child’s self-esteem can also be affected by lack of parental support.
Abandonment fears can impair a person’s ability to trust others. They may make it harder for a person to feel worthy or be intimate. These fears could make a person prone to anxiety, depression, codependence, or other issues. Abandonment issues are also linked to borderline personality (BPD) and attachment anxiety. Someone who lacks self-esteem due to childhood abandonment may seek relationships that reinforce their beliefs.
Many individuals are known to seek therapy for the fear of abandonment and issues related to it. The fear of abandonment phobia is characterized by extreme dependency on others. It is commonly seen in adults and children who are also diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorders. Such people live in the constant fear that their ‘world will collapse’ if their protectors or loved ones abandon them.
Fear of abandonment can lead to different issues that can cause harm to both the sufferer and his loved ones. Often, the phobic tends to threaten or sabotage his/her relationships using statements like “I will leave you before you leave me” or “You love them more than me” or “You’ve never loved me” and so on. This phobia can also lead to domestic violence: breaking or destroying property or even physically hurting loved ones.
Causes of Autophobia
- Doctors believe that, in majority of the cases, the fear of abandonment phobia stems from childhood trauma when a parent or loved one leaves following a divorce (or dies). Even in adulthood, the sufferer continues to believe and fear that every significant person in his/her life is going to abandon him/her in a similar way. Thus, the phobia stems from behavior learned from childhood experiences.
- Abandonment in childhood can be physical, emotional or financial. All of these can be traumatic to the young child. Death of a parent gives rise to several overwhelming feelings followed by financial difficulties, change of lifestyle, or change of home etc. This deepens the trauma further.
- Sometimes, the fear of abandonment phobia can come on suddenly in adulthood, when one is financially or emotionally dependent on another adult, who dies or leaves leading to significant loss of financial and emotional support.
- Individuals with an adrenal deficiency or those with a general tendency towards being overly anxious or ‘high strung’ are also more likely to suffer from such phobia.
Symptoms of the fear of abandonment phobia
Autophobia varies in degree and intensity leading to different levels of symptoms in suffering individuals. Major symptoms brought on by this phobia include:
- Avoiding intimacy or relationships
- Anxiety and panic attack symptoms such as shaking, trembling, nausea, headaches, gastrointestinal distress, increased heart rate, shallow or rapid breathing etc at the thought of being left alone.
These psychological effects are seen in every aspect of the sufferer’s life to an extent that it may impact his/her social, professional and intimate relationships:
- A spouse constantly suspects his/her partner of having an affair.
- Autophobic parent does not allow his/her child to form intimate relationships with peers.
- A partner constantly sends messages/calls or texts the other.
- One attends office functions or other events where one is not invited.
- Stalks ex-spouse following a divorce.
Overcoming the fear of abandonment
A big part of overcoming Autophobia is developing love for self and confidence in one’s abilities. One must also discuss beforehand all of one’s needs before forming intimate relationships.
Finding a ‘safe and calm haven’ is a recommended technique to overcome this phobia. This is best done through positive visualization and affirmations as well as meditation and other mind-body techniques.
Family or loved ones of individuals suffering from this phobia also play an important role in the therapy. Loved ones need to be firm and not give in to the phobic’s demands especially ones that are unhealthy for them. If one feels physically threatened by the individual, it is best to stay away and get police help. Arguing with such a person is only going to make matters worse and often loved ones find themselves isolated from others.
Hypnotherapy is a tried and tested therapy for treating Autophobia. It gets to the root of the problem and helps reprogram the subconscious thoughts to help dispel the fear.
Other scientific treatments for overcoming fear of abandonment include NLP or neuro linguistic programming and energy psychology both of which are proven methods to overcome Autophobia.
Quiz: Do You Have an Anxiety Disorder? Test Yourself Now
How To Talk To Someone With Abandonment Issues
It can feel impossible to talk to someone with abandonment issues. No matter what you say, it’s like they didn’t hear you. It can drive you crazy. It can make you feel like you’re talking to a brick wall. At the same time, the last thing you want to do is give up in frustration and make them think you’re abandoning them.
Abandonment issues are a core part of someone’s worldview. The person with abandonment issues feels like the world is fundamentally unsafe.
(They believe) that the world is an unsafe place, that people are not to be trusted, and that they do not deserve positive attention and adequate care.
Essentially, people with abandonment issues put the cart before the horse. They think others can’t leave them if they’re already alone, so they close everyone off.
And yes, that’s true — sort of. You don’t have to worry about being shot in the foot if you’re already shot in the foot. But then you’re, you know, shot in the foot. People with abandonment issues would rather be alone then deal with the fear of someone leaving them.
They believe everyone leaves them in the end. That core belief is not something you can fix.
You might be tempted to make promises to soothe their fear. “I will always be there for you.” “You can always call me.” People with abandonment issues will often prompt you to make these promises because they want to hear them.
Even if these promises are true, promises like that raise the defenses of someone with abandonment issues. They expect anyone who says those things to abandon them. Once their defenses are raised, it’s impossible to get through to them. Even though they crave these promises, they are afraid once they get them.
So if you can’t fix their problem, and you can’t say what they want to hear, what can you say or do?
Leave the conversation when it turns unproductive, even if they beg you not to.
People with abandonment issues are vulnerable to the emotional heat of the moment. During a difficult discussion or fight, they are overloaded with fear hormones.
Do the both of you a favor, and step away from a conversation when it turns emotional and unproductive — even if it appears to drive the other person to despair. Tell them clearly and firmly that you are doing this for both of you, so that you are not in pain. It will feel like kicking a puppy, but it has to be done. The alternative means staying and enabling their abandonment issues to get worse.
After three or more hours, get in contact with them again. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you’ll find the other person has calmed down. They will usually be able to identify that they got overemotional.
Tell them when you’re feeling trapped or manipulated
People with abandonment issues will often try and corner others verbally. Their goal is to make the person they’re talking to say what they want to hear. They will use tricks like:
- Telling you what you think, feel or mean
- Using hypothetical questions to corner you
- Making leaps of logic which make no sense
Them: You are only here because you pity me!
You: That’s not true. I’m here because I want to help you.
Them: Yes it is. I can tell.
You: That’s not true!
Them: I can tell. You said “You are here to help me.” That means you are only here because you pity me.
In this example, the other person used an indefensible leap of logic to tell you what you mean.
Every time you play into their fears, you are making their abandonment issues worse. If you really want to help them, point out when they are doing this to you. Say things like:
- “What are you trying to say?”
- “I’m sorry that’s what you think, but that’s not what I meant.”
- “I feel like you are trying to make me say something.”
The person with abandonment issues won’t necessarily agree with what you’re saying. But saying that will derail the point they were trying to make, and force them to have a real conversation again.
Don’t take their bait.
People with abandonment issues lay a lot of bait.
- They might have a sad facial expression, baiting you to ask what’s wrong.
- They might sulk a certain way, baiting you to come to comfort them.
- They might send you an ambiguous text, baiting you to ask for more information.
Here is an example bait:
This bait is a ploy for attention. The longer you spend goading them to talk about what’s wrong, the more they feel like you care. This makes them feel better in the short-term, but it reinforces their abandonment issues. The second you are not actively encouraging them, they go back to feeling abandoned.
You should respond to bait, but instead of saying what they want you to say, you should respond by prompting them to explain what they’re feeling. If they do not clearly communicate back to you about what’s bothering them, the conversation should end.
For instance, here is an ideal response to the same bait.
You made a clear offer for help while at the same time not giving them the response to the bait they wanted. This forces them to acknowledge their needs and clearly communicate them, which is the antidote to all kinds of emotional issues.
You might also say:
- “Is there something you want to say to me?”
- “I can’t read minds. If there’s something on your mind, you have to use your words.”
Positive responses to baits will not always work out so smoothly. It may take many days, weeks or months before they courage to communicate clearly. What you can do for them is be a steady presence, giving them constructive responses to their bait, until they are.
Table of contents:
- Signs Of Abandonment Issues
- How To Overcome Abandonment Issues
Is a fear of abandonment harming your relationships?
Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Millions of people like you struggle with this self-sabotaging belief and the behaviors that go with it.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the main signs of abandonment issues to help you identify which apply to you.
The first step to changing any belief is to identify it. Only then can you get help and do the necessary work to shift your mindset to a more desirable position.
We’ll discuss how some of these issues might contribute to a relationship not working out.
This is important because failed relationships reinforce the fear of abandonment you feel.
What are the red flags you can use to identify abandonment issues in yourself or others?
Signs Of Abandonment Issues
1. You Attach Too Quickly
As soon as you meet someone, you go from first date to “in a relationship” in the blink of an eye.
You believe that if you don’t do this, you risk them dating someone else they like more. You don’t want them to be “the one that got away.”
But you don’t give yourself the time and mental space needed to assess how the relationship is going.
You don’t ask whether this person is someone you could spend the rest of your life with.
After all, isn’t that what we’re all looking for?
2. You Move On Too Quickly
When one relationship ends, you don’t give yourself time to breathe (and grieve) before you’re on to the next one.
You don’t deal with the emotional fallout of the breakup.
You jump head first into something new and exciting to distract yourself from the hurt and pain you feel.
You’re one of those people who “have to” be in a relationship because you’re a mess when single.
Unfortunately, you’re not allowing yourself time to process your breakup. You’re not grieving the end of your last relationship, or healing the wounds that it may have caused.
3. You’re A Partner Pleaser
You aim to please people at every opportunity including in your relationships.
The result is weak personal boundaries and a willingness to go along with whatever your partner wants.
You put your well-being second to theirs. You fear that if you don’t fulfil their desires, they will look elsewhere.
This will eventually lead to conflict when you begin to resent having to do all these things.
And this can cause you to jump ship, believing that things aren’t ever going to work out for the two of you.
4. You Stay In / Settle For Unhealthy Relationships
Rather than being alone, you are willing to remain in a situation that you know deep down isn’t good for you.
Perhaps you realize that the match isn’t as good as you first thought. Or maybe your partner lies, cheats, or is abusive in some way.
somehow these things aren’t always enough for you to call it quits.
5. You Look For Flaws In Your Partner
Sometimes it’s not the case that the match isn’t a good one; it’s that you don’t allow it to be.
Your abandonment issues mean you focus on the flaws in your partner. You ignore all their positive attributes.
This way, when things finally go south, you can tell yourself they weren’t right for you anyway.
You seek a perfection that doesn’t exist anywhere other than in your head.
Unfortunately, this approach is likely to contribute to the breakdown in your relationship.
6. You’re Reluctant To Fully Invest In A Relationship
Sure. you might be quick to take a relationship from zero to sixty, but this doesn’t mean you are ready to invest in it.
In fact, you are often resistant to anything that signifies genuine commitment. Things such as meeting their family, moving in together, even discussing a “future” together.
By doing so, you send a signal to your partner that you don’t view the relationship as serious or long term. This may spell the beginning of the end of things between you.
7. You Avoid Emotional Intimacy
Perhaps it’s no surprise that you feel unable to invest in a relationship when you shun any attempts your partner makes at emotional intimacy.
To let your guard down would be to show vulnerability, and you’re not prepared to risk the hurt this may cause.
So you keep your guard up and compensate in other ways. You focus on physical intimacy instead and try to please your partner as mentioned above.
The problem is that, while you may be happy to live without these things, your partner probably won’t be. And if they aren’t, they may question your future together.
8. You Feel Unworthy Of Love
The thing that holds you back from being emotionally intimate with somebody is a deep-seated sense of unworthiness.
You just can’t see how anybody could possibly love you, so you never let anyone say those three special words to you.
If they should ever cross a partner’s lips, your response will be a quick and decisive “you don’t love me” and that will be that.
9. You’re Insecure
In your mind, there is no way that anybody could truly love you because you struggle to love yourself.
Your self-esteem has gone AWOL.
You doubt every decision you make.
You suffer from anxiety about most things (not just your relationships).
And this leads to…
10. You’re Jealous Of Every Friend/Colleague/Acquaintance
In your mind, there’s a strong chance that your partner is being unfaithful.
It doesn’t matter that every other relationship your partner has is purely platonic.
Unsurpringly, much of your jealousy will focus on members of the opposite sex.
But you also get jealous when they spend time with friends of the same sex and of the enjoyment they get from it.
This jealous behavior will put a strain on your relationship. It will likely cause arguments and ill-feelings.
11. You Struggle To Trust
Your mind conjures up images of infidelity and you find it difficult to fully trust a partner.
Trust requires you to be vulnerable and we’ve already discussed how you hate to let your guard down.
You tell yourself that it’s better to assume the worst and be proven wrong than the other way around. That’s the pessimist in you talking.
Unfortunately, your partner wants to feel trusted. I’m sure you’d agree, it’s not nice to feel as though someone you love doesn’t believe you.
12. You Get Separation Blues
You like to be with and around your partner as much as possible because any time spent apart is like torture.
To be separated for a few hours or days has the effect of resurfacing your abandonment issues. It sends you into a downward spiral of doubt and despair.
Rather than “out of sight, out of mind,” it’s quite the opposite. All you can do is ruminate about where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing.
This can lead to overbearing behavior such as checking up on your partner by message or phone every hour.
13. You Visualize Your Partner Leaving You
Time apart provides the perfect mental environment for the fear of abandonment to thrive.
Your thoughts enter a dark and dangerous loop in which you imagine your partner ending things with you. You think about the trauma and turmoil this will result in.
Your body reacts to these thoughts as if they were actually true and you suffer bouts of extreme anxiety and depression.
14. You Overanalyze Things
Your mind isn’t one to let anything slip by unnoticed. You see and hear everything and then set to work trying to figure out the hidden meaning in it all.
There’s no such thing as a small comment or an insignificant act when you’re around. You’re capable of taking every little thing and assigning far more weight to it than it deserves.
This can be a source of conflict because your partner may feel the need to walk on eggshells around you for fear of upsetting you.
15. You’re Hypersensitive To Criticism
You are on the constant lookout for criticism.
This is why you are so keen to analyze every small detail about what your partner says or does.
Your self-worth is so low that you convince yourself that your partner is unhappy with you.
And should direct criticism ever actually be forthcoming, your mind goes into a frenzy of defensive maneuvers and offensive counter-strikes.
You just can’t deal with it in the way most emotionally mature people would.
16. You Have Repressed Anger
Though not always the case, there is a good chance that you hold some anger deep inside you.
This occasionally bubbles to the surface.
You may have outbursts over seemingly insignificant things. Or you may find yourself resenting your partner for no obvious reason.
Either way, the source of these feelings is difficult to pinpoint.
When anger enters any relationship, it is going to put that relationship under strain.
It’s fuel to add to the fire caused by any number of the points in this article.
17. You’re Controlling
You try to control your insecurities, but doing so requires you to control everything else, too.
Your abandonment issues likely stem from past experiences where you had no control over the outcome.
The result is that you seek to micromanage your life and your relationship to try to avoid similar situations and the same outcome.
You fear the unpredictability of letting go and sailing with the wind.
This can make your partner feel diminished as an individual because they have no freedom to make choices of their own.
You pick partners who are either currently unavailable or wholly incompatible with you.
This helps you avoid any situation that may result in emotional intimacy or require you to invest fully in a relationship.
You may pick someone who you know has been unfaithful in the past.
Or someone whose lifestyle doesn’t match yours.
someone who is moving away soon.
Or even someone who is already in another relationship.
You know nothing serious will ever come of it, but that’s actually a relief to you.
19. You Sabotage Relationships At Every Opportunity
Many of the things we have already spoken about are examples of self-sabotage.
You fear abandonment and avoid ever reaching a point where your heart can be broken the way it has been in the past.
You push your partner away, you grind them down with snarky comments, you act in ways that aren’t conducive to a loving relationship.
Yet you do it on autopilot.
It’s an unconscious defense mechanism designed to prevent emotional pain.
20. You Blame Yourself For Every Breakup
If you have genuine abandonment issues, chances are you aren’t very good at maintaining long term relationships.
And with every one that comes to an end, you can’t help but shoulder all the responsibility and blame.
You tell yourself you were never good enough for them – not physically, not intellectually, not emotionally.
You’re convinced that it’s your fault things didn’t work out.
So, do you really have abandonment issues? Here’s a quick test: for each of the signs above, score yourself from 0-2 where 0 means it doesn’t apply to you, 1 means it is kind of true, and 2 means it is very accurate. Scores of 20 or more signify a likely underlying issue while anything over 30 suggests that you have a strong aversion to abandonment of any kind.
More essential reading on abandonment (article continues below):
- How To Love Somebody With Abandonment Issues
- 12 Ways Abandonment Issues Impact A Person’s Life
- 15 Ways The Beautifully Broken Girl Loves Differently
- The Push-Pull Relationship Cycle And How To Escape This Dynamic
- Dating Someone With Anxiety: 4 Things To Do (And 4 NOT To Do)
- 3 Signs Of Trust Issues And How To Get Over Them
How To Overcome Abandonment Issues
The pain and trauma that comes with feeling abandoned can be harrowing, and often sticks with us throughout our lives.
While this is perfectly natural, it means that we don’t always fully explore each opportunity that we’re presented with.
Living in fear and never feeling 100% comfortable with our situations is no fun at all, but there are ways to move on.
Here are some tips for overcoming abandonment issues, so that you experience life to the full…
Let Someone In
Big changes start with small steps. Teach yourself to trust again – this doesn’t have to be as intense as it sounds, don’t worry!
Confiding in people doesn’t always mean sharing your deepest, darkest secrets; start by telling friends little details about your life that they don’t already know.
By sharing information, you’ll strengthen your friendships and realize that people are interested and invested in your life.
Over time, you can share things that are more important to you, which won’t feel as scary as it might once have done.
By easing yourself into the practice of sharing, you’ll allow yourself to relax more around people and not feel so worried all the time.
Trusting people is a big step in any relationship, from those with close family members to best friends to the person you’re dating.
Don’t beat yourself up if it feels tricky at first – this is totally normal!
Move at a pace that suits you and give yourself time to realize that not everyone is going to betray your trust.
Find An Outlet
Find a safe place to express your feelings of anxiety and fear.
This doesn’t need to be shared with anyone, so write in a journal or set up a password-protected blog.
This allows you to openly express how you’re feeling without fear of judgment.
Writing things down often helps us process them more clearly, and is a good way to get everything out.
If you’re still finding it hard to talk to people about your personal life, journaling is a great place to start.
If singing or creating pieces of art feels more natural to you, go for it. You don’t need to share that you’re doing this (unless you want to), just keep it as an outlet for yourself.
Song-writing is a lovely way to express your feelings, and other people’s lyrics can really help us process how we’re feeling.
Sports can be a good choice too – the idea of being part of a team who have to commit to each other. This sense of community and mutual respect can serve as a fun reminder that you can rely on people.
Own Your Feelings
Part of working on your mental wellbeing and all the things that are tied into it (self-confidence, intimacy issues, and anxiety) is owning how you feel.
It can be so easy to hide in the comfort of denial and not really accept that anything feels scary or worrying.
While this feels nice in the short-term, it doesn’t do us any favors in terms of moving forward with our lives.
Instead of jumping to cover up or hide your feelings, try to work on acknowledging them.
It’s natural to feel nervous or hesitant when it comes to meeting new people or attempting commitment.
We all self-sabotage sometimes in order to avoid fully immersing ourselves in experiences.
By stopping and letting a ‘bad’ thought or feeling sit in our minds, we can learn to behave in a healthy way that benefits us.
Whenever a negative feeling arises, don’t immediately brush it away. Consider what it means and what has triggered it – perhaps looking at old photos or speaking to a certain individual.
By learning what makes us feel certain ways, we can start working toward surrounding ourselves with positivity and support.
Try To Rationalize
The ability to be rational is one that can feel impossible at times.
You may know that you’re totally spiraling out of control, but still feel powerless to actively change your behavior.
Sometimes, we need to sit and realize what we’re actually doing. Being worried about somebody leaving us, for example, can lead to clinginess.
It can be so beneficial to look back at examples where you have acted in ways that have frustrated your partner.
Leaving seven voicemails while they’ve nipped out for a beer with some friends might feel like a good thing at the time, but a few weeks later, you’ll realize that this is unhealthy.
You’ll probably feel shocked or a bit embarrassed when you reflect on this behavior.
Try to keep this feeling in your mind – not to torture yourself with and feel guilty about, but to serve as a reminder of what can happen.
Remembering your tendency to over-react slightly can be helpful in changing your habits and re-routing how your mind works.
Next time you reach for the phone, think back to how it felt last time you realized how you acted. Leave a message and put the phone back down.
It may be hard at first, and you’ll find it tricky to adjust and break unhealthy habits. But over time, you’ll be able to sit back and look at things before jumping to action.
This will help you feel better about yourself, and will improve your relationships too.
Your partner or friend won’t feel like they’re always being checked up on, and you’ll no longer spend hours (and lots of energy) staring at your phone and willing a message to come through.
Meditate On It
This is partially in relation to taking the time to consider the consequences of your actions, but also refers to mindfulness.
Mindfulness and meditation are amazing ways to shift your mindset and really get in touch with your emotions.
This kind of self-work can help us tap in to deep-rooted feelings, which is so useful when it comes to addressing and overcoming issues of abandonment.
These feelings can arise after parental divorces, breakups, death, or any kind of change in general.
They leave you worried that other loved ones will disappear on you – either by choice or through circumstances beyond their control.
While these feelings are to be expected, they can’t control every aspect of your life.
Meditation is a lovely way to address these feelings of anxiety and to process them fully.
Being alone with your thoughts can seem like the worst thing in the world at times, but it’s not as daunting as it sounds.
Practice being alone by sitting somewhere comfy, closing your eyes and focusing on your breath.
At first, this will feel impossible and you probably won’t be able to switch off at all! The more you practice, though, the easier and less stressful it will become.
See this time as an opportunity to wind down and settle your mind. Going from 5000 thoughts a minute to 3000 is still an achievement, so don’t be hard on yourself.
By meditating (perhaps using a guided meditation such as this) and actively taking time to look after yourself, you will learn to see your behavior and thoughts differently, ultimately giving you back some control.
Assess Your Relationships – All Of Them!
Sometimes it’s not just our overactive minds that make us worry about being abandoned – the individuals around us influence how we’re feeling too.
Someone can make you feel loved and cared for and you’ll still worry about them leaving you.
How many friends, family members, and partners really make you feel good about yourself?
Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with supportive people and that you feel as comfortable as your mind allows you to be.
It’s so easy to get into bad habits and allow negative people to stay in your life.
Letting go of things that do not serve you is not a bad thing – it is perfectly okay to be selfish when it comes to getting rid of toxicity!
Take time to evaluate your friendships and the people that you date, and make sure they all feed you in some way.
There are certain people who, no matter how much you care about them, just aren’t good for you to be around.
Anyone who makes you feel more uncomfortable, nervous, or insecure than normal just isn’t going to help you overcome these issues.
It can be hard, but you’re not going to be able to make much progress if there’s always someone holding you back.
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