Is a fear of abandonment wreaking havoc in your relationships?
Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Millions of people just like you are struggling with this self-sabotaging belief and its resulting behaviors.
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 begin to seek help and do the necessary work to shift your mindset to a more desirable position.
So, let’s now turn our attention to the red flags you can use to identify issues surrounding abandonment in yourself or others.
1. You Attach Too Quickly
Things progress at lightning speed as soon as you meet someone, and 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.”
2. You Move On Too Quickly
If and when one relationship ends, you barely give yourself time to breathe (and grieve) before you’re on to the next one. Instead of dealing with the emotional fallout of the breakup, you seek to distract yourself from the hurt and pain by jumping head first into something new and exciting. You’re one of those people who “have to” be in a relationship because you’re a mess when single.
3. You’re A Partner Pleaser
You aim to please people at every opportunity and this extends into your relationships. The result is weak personal boundaries and a willingness to go along with things just because they are what your partner wants. You put your wellbeing second to theirs, fearing they will look elsewhere if you don’t fulfil their desires.
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 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 Every 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 and 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.
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 the more serious things. In fact, you are often resistant to anything that signifies genuine commitment: meeting their family, moving in together, even discussing a “future” together.
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 simply not prepared to risk the hurt this may cause. So you keep your guard up and compensate in other ways, such as through physical intimacy and the partner pleasing mentioned above.
8. You Feel Unworthy Of Love
The biggest thing that holds you back from being emotionally intimate with somebody is your own 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.
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
It doesn’t matter that every other relationship your partner has is purely platonic, in your head, there’s a strong chance they are being unfaithful. Much of your jealousy will focus on members of the opposite sex, but you are also known to get jealous when they spend time with friends of the same sex and of the enjoyment they get from it.
Because your mind conjures up images of infidelity, you find it difficult to fully trust a partner. Trust is one of those things that makes you 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 your talking.
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, a day, or even a number of days has the effect of resurfacing your abandonment issues and sending you into a downward spiral of doubt and despair. Rather than “out of sight, out of mind,” it’s quite the opposite, and all you can do is ruminate about where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing.
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 literally imagine your partner ending things with you and 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 because you’re capable of taking every little thing and assigning far more weight to it than it probably deserves.
15. You’re Hypersensitive To Criticism
A primary reason you are so keen to analyze every small detail about what your partner says or does is because you are on the constant lookout for criticism. Your self-worth is so low that you convince yourself that your partner is somehow 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 which occasionally bubbles to the surface. Perhaps you have outbursts over seemingly insignificant things, or you find yourself resenting your partner for no obvious reason. Either way, the source of these feelings is difficult to pinpoint.
17. You’re Overly 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, and so you seek to micromanage your life and your relationship to try and avoid similar situations and the same outcome. You fear the unpredictability of just letting go and sailing with the wind.
18. You Pick Unavailable Partners
To help you avoid any situation that may result in emotional intimacy and require you to invest fully in a relationship, you pick partners who are either currently unavailable or wholly incompatible with you. You may pick someone who you know has been unfaithful in the past, 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 might have 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… and 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 (for the reasons described in this article). And with every one that comes to an end, you can’t help but shoulder all of the responsibility and blame. You tell yourself you were never good enough for them – not physically, not intellectually, not emotionally – and 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.
Can you relate to the points above? Do you live in fear of abandonment? Leave a comment below to share your experiences and any tips you might have for others who are in the same position as you.