The fear and anxiety relating to abandonment issues can have a profound impact on the lives of those who suffer from them.
Though not always apparent on the surface, a constant current of underlying emotional energy continuously brings these issues back into the conscious flow of thoughts.
They can be triggered in all manner of ways, often based upon the person’s past experiences both from childhood and their adult years.
If left unchecked, and if no help is sought for them, they can have a harmful influence that pervades many areas of life.
Whether you experience fear of abandonment yourself and want to get a better idea of the effect it might be having on you, or there’s someone important in your life battling these issues and you want to be able to better understand and support them, you’ve come to the right place.
Although the effects can be most obvious in our relationships, whether familial, platonic, or romantic, they can also have a knock-on effect on our professional lives and our development into a well-rounded, fulfilled person.
Let’s take a detailed look at the toll these issues can take on all aspects of a person’s life.
One of the most common effects, although this might seem counterintuitive, is that someone with these issues finds it tough to make a romantic commitment to just one person.
Although, logically, you might think someone who’s been abandoned would seek commitment and continuity rather than flee from it, they’re actually convinced that there’s no point committing because their partner will only abandon them down the line.
In their mind, it’s inevitable, so they might as well beat them to the punch.
2. They have a fear of intimacy.
As well as fearing commitment, they may be unable to let their guard down. They build walls ten feet high around their heart and forget to put in a door.
Whether their issues come from being abandoned by a parent as a child or from the abrupt ending of a central romantic relationship or friendship later in life, having had their trust betrayed, they find it extremely difficult to let anyone else in.
Just as someone who experiences fear of abandonment can struggle to lower the drawbridge and allow someone into their emotional fortress, from the outside, the stone walls often don’t look particularly inviting.
They can appear cold, indifferent, and uncaring, meaning that other people aren’t given a chance to discover the real person that’s hiding behind the fortifications.
Scaling the walls isn’t an appealing prospect at first glance, so they can find it difficult to attract potential partners or make new friends that are prepared to put in the work necessary to break down these barriers.
4. They hate to let people down.
Whether because they feel let down by someone in their past or simply because they don’t want to give anyone a reason to leave them, they because perennial “yes” men/women.
Yes to events, yes to requests for help, yes to doing things they don’t feel entirely comfortable with. Saying no to people is like pulling teeth; they’d prefer to just live with the dull ache of always saying yes.
5. They have low self-esteem.
This is a textbook impact of abandonment issues, and can be true of all areas of a person’s life.
Romantically, they can’t believe anyone would actually want to be with them as they can’t for the life of them see any reasons for it. They feel unlovable.
It can also be reflected in the world of work, as they won’t be willing to put themselves out there for new job roles or take risks, never believing in their own potential.
It can even prevent them from making changes to their lifestyle or setting themselves any kind of challenge, however small, as they have no faith in their own ability to achieve.
Having been disappointed and abandoned in the past, someone with these issues can have unrealistic expectations for all the relationships in their lives, whether with family members, friends, or romantic partners.
Whilst it’s true that some such people will end up settling for a less-than-ideal relationship because they don’t think they deserve any better, these issues will have the opposite effect on others.
Some will demand utter perfection from any relationships in their lives which, as they know deep down, will mean they’re doomed to fail.
Human beings are, by their very nature, imperfect, and love is about compromise, so this is yet another way to keep people beyond those stone walls.
8. They experience mood swings, anger, anxiety, or depression.
Those battling these issues can be emotionally unstable in various ways.
Some people will experience moments of intense happiness quickly followed by sadness, some will have difficulty controlling their anger, while others will exhibit signs of anxiety or experience depression.
This will spill over into the rest of their lives and have untold knock-on effects, all negative.
9. They can be a helicopter parent.
Another common impact is on the relationships they have with any children of their own.
As their children grow, they can find it extremely difficult to cut the apron strings and let them have their freedom and make their own mistakes.
In an ideal world, they would retain control over their children’s lives. However, as they grow, it’s only natural for a child to gain more and more independence, and if a parent tries to fight this, it can lead to conflict.
10. They play it safe in the world of work.
As mentioned above, those with abandonment issues will often avoid taking any kind of risk when it comes to their professional life as they simply don’t believe in themselves.
You’ll often find that they take a job they know they’ll be amazing at, even if they don’t have a real passion for it or it doesn’t push them to their full potential.
They prefer to know that they’re doing an excellent job, as it makes them feel needed and validated, rather than working in a more challenging environment and risking not constantly receiving praise and reassurance.
In the long run, this can mean that they end up feeling unfulfilled professionally.
11. They’re pessimistic about the future.
Their experiences have taught them that hope and happiness are wishful thinking. Instead, they are constantly on the lookout for the next bad thing that is going to happen to them.
They have a scarcity mindset and this leads them to believe that good times are very much in the minority.
When they look toward the future, they do so with a firm belief that storm clouds are gathering on the horizon. There is no happy ever after in their mind; just one struggle after another.
12. They struggle to be themselves.
When you’ve been your authentic self and somebody has left you, it makes you doubt your worthiness. So, instead, you try to be the person that others want you to be.
You create a persona and hide your true personality, beliefs, and desires behind it. That way, if a person exits your life for any reason, you know it wasn’t the real you that they left.
Working Through It
Being aware of the impacts that your abandonment issues might be having on your life is an important step toward overcoming them.
Whilst there are plenty of ways that you can help yourself or a loved one to take steps to overcome these issues, if you find that they’re having a significant detrimental impact on you, your relationships and your mental health, be sure to seek professional help.
Katie splits her time between writing and translation. She writes about travel and self-care and never stays in one place for too long. She’s currently based in beautiful Cornwall, England, after long stints in Brazil and Mexico. She spends her free time trail running, exploring and devouring vegan food.