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Table of contents:
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.
18. You Pick Unavailable Partners
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.
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.
Here is a guided meditation of our own that might help in its own little way:
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.
Still not sure how to overcome your abandonment issues? Talking to someone can really help you to handle whatever life throws at you. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.
A therapist is often the best person you can talk to. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to uncover the root causes of your abandonment issues and provide proven techniques and a safe environment in which to tackle them.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
You might not think your problems are big enough to warrant professional therapy but please don’t do yourself that disservice. Nothing is insignificant if it is affecting your mental well-being.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.
More essential reading on abandonment:
- 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