How To Recognize Signs You Have Abandonment Issues ( & What To do About It)

The dreaded feeling of being left, feeling unwanted or feeling rejected  can have debilitating impact on our relationships. When you  are scared of losing someone you love and make frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, you can sabotage your relationship if you don’t get it treated. Here’s how to recognize signs you have abandonment issues and what you can do about it.

When you experience fears of abandonment, you can do anything to prevent someone from leaving you, when you perceive threats that may not really exist.

During the defamation court case, Dr. Laurel Anderson, who was the couple’s therapist for Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s marriage testified that Heard had a fear of abandonment and would instigate fights with Depp to keep him from walking away from an argument. She would attempt to prevent him from leaving her, because of her fear of abandonment.

A partner walking away from an argument can stir up fears of abandonment and lead to protesting, such as using complaints or criticism to draw them back into the conversation, as a bid for connection, to be heard.

John Bowlby used the term protesting to depict a child having an emotional meltdown as a way of eliciting the parent to respond to their emotional needs. In a similar way, adults can also have an emotional tantrum to elicit a response from their partner. But this tends to have the opposite effect and causes their partner to feel attacked and pull away, therefore inflaming the fear of abandonment.

The fear of abandonment can also be depicted in children suffering signs of separation anxiety whereby they get distressed when the parent leaves the room or drops them off at day care.

When the child has not internalized a secure relationship with the care giver, they can continue to latch onto the caregiver to avoid feelings of abandonment or separation, and continue to cling to partners in subsequent relationships.

A person who lacks a sense of object constancy or object permanence feels the relationship is not stable or secure whenever there are minor conflicts, setbacks, or when a partner goes away on a business trip. They may feel their partner is no longer available for them, if they are not in close contact with them or experience moments of separation from them.

In extreme cases of borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorders, a person can feel intense feelings of abandonment or emptiness when they are unable to grab their partner’s attention, and will become overly dramatic or distressed to get their partner’s attention.

Holding onto unrequited love may be a way of protecting oneself from facing feelings of abandonment that would emerge if they were able to let go. Staying attached stops them healing those abandonment wounds. Letting go of the relationship releases the abandonment feelings and therefore holding onto relationships is a way of escaping the pain of abandonment and restoring the feeling of being loved, even though it may be a fantasy they’re holding onto and not reality. James Masterson calls this the abandonment depression, whereby a person feels panic, anxiety, depression and emptiness.

So, how can you tell if you have a fear of being abandoned?

Here’s 20 Telltale Signs You Have Abandonment Issues

  1. Fear of being alone.
  2. Needing constant attention or reassurance.
  3. Jumping from one relationship to another.
  4. Finding things wrong in your relationship when there’s nothing necessarily wrong.
  5. Always wanting to fix the relationship.
  6. Getting easily attached.
  7. Pushing the boundaries or testing your partner’s love.
  8. Feeling unloved without needing a reason.
  9. Protesting for love.
  10. Eager to please.
  11. Destroying the relationship, to avoid being abandoned.
  12. Holding onto a relationship, even if they’re not serving you.
  13. Betraying yourself to feel loved.
  14. Not feeling good enough for your relationship.
  15. Settling for less.
  16. Struggling with being away from your partner.
  17. Difficulties with jealousy or insecurities; expecting your partner to find better.
  18. Expecting your partner to leave, so wanting them to prove their love constantly.
  19. Using complaints or criticism to protest, as a bid for connection.
  20. Fear of committing.

A common sign that a person has abandonment issues is when they are preoccupied with thoughts a someone leaving, feeling uncomfortable with departures or brief encounters of separation from a loved one. A person with an abandonment wound can look into things that are not happening in order to find ways to protect themselves from the fear of a partner leaving.

What can you do if you are showing signs of having abandonment issues? If you want to overcome the feeling of being abandoned, you can seek treatment for abandonment issues.

You can push someone away, if you are constantly thinking that they will abandon you. No one wants to be accused of something they’re not doing, whereby it might eventually end up becoming self-fulfilling that they abandon you when they feel you do not trust them.

So, what to do if you show signs you have abandonment issues?

All of these behaviors’ may momentarily alleviate the pain of feeling abandoned,  but they can sabotage your relationships if you don’t know how to deal with your triggers.  If you notice you have a fear of abandonment, therapy allows you to work through the feelings of abandonment to overcome the fear and interrupt the behaviors by unlearning the patterns derived from anxious attachment.

Nancy Carbone has a M.Soc Sc (Couns) who is an author and relationship therapist who helps her clients to break through the barriers to get the love they want.



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