Do you find yourself constantly seeking reassurance from your partner, family, and friends? Or are you emotionally distant and cold? In both cases, you could be acting that way because of a fear of abandonment.
Fear of abandonment is usually responsible for unhealthy, unstable, or detached relationships.
This article will help you understand the fear and how to deal with it—in you or your loved ones. You will learn:
- What the fear of abandonment is.
- Why do we fear abandonment?
- The main signs of abandonment issues and how they affect your life.
- How to overcome the fear of abandonment.
- How to help someone with fear of abandonment.
What Is the Fear of Abandonment?
Every relationship needs a balance between boundaries and closeness. Someone who fears abandonment has difficulties tolerating healthy boundaries with the ones they love. They always feel insecure. Being abandoned is a constant threat in their minds.
If you have a fear of abandonment, you likely:
- Experience an overwhelming worry that you will be left alone.
- Are constantly insecure in your relationships.
- Have intrusive thoughts about being rejected.
- Seek reassurance incessantly, causing distress to yourself and your loved ones.
- Never feel truly comforted and at ease with your partner, friends, or family members.
In summary, the fear of abandonment is an engulfing concern that the ones you love will leave you. In effect, both you and your loved ones feel dissatisfied and stressed. It is a very unhealthy basis for any kind of relationship.
Luckily, you don’t need to spend your life crushed by abandonment anxiety. Marisa Peer, a world-renowned speaker, therapist, and best-selling author, has spent over three decades helping people like yourself.
You, too, can benefit from her experience and unique techniques for overcoming this fear of abandonment. This article will show you how. But first, let’s get to know the enemy within and how it came to be.
Why Do We Have a Fear of Abandonment?
Fear of abandonment usually came to be as a result of childhood abandonment—whether that be physical or emotional.
Sometimes, adults keep reliving the trauma of being abandoned as a child. For one reason or another, their caregiver left. They might have passed away, left to work in another city or country for a long time, or were inconsistently present in the child’s life. The stress of separation causes psychological scarring that then repeats itself in every significant adult relationship.
In other instances, the parent was there. However, they were emotionally cold and distant. As a child, you might have tried to please them in different ways to win their affection. Nonetheless, you never experienced the unconditional love we all need and deserve.
Any of these forms of childhood rejection would have the same result: they made a mark. Abandonment was ingrained into your deepest beliefs about life and others and became a part of your subconsciousness.
Such childhood trauma means you expect to be hurt. As a result, you now need the physical presence of the person you love and their constant reassurance to feel loved and safe.
The Main Signs of Abandonment Issues
It’s perfectly normal to want to feel secure with someone you love. We enter relationships with an innate desire to feel safe and loved.
Fear of abandonment is, however, another kind of feeling. It tends to overtake the relationship and outweigh the positives.
It can even be intensive enough to be classified as a disorder. To meet the criteria, your fear needs to last longer than six months. If it is also recurrent, disproportionate, and debilitating, it can be diagnosed as separation anxiety. In fact, it’s quite a prevalent issue.
Even if your fear is not this severe, living with such insecurity can have a significant negative impact. So, what are the main signs of abandonment issues?
- It’s usually activated by meeting the right person—someone who triggers your insecurities and lack of confidence.
- Alternatively, abandonment issues may have surfaced when you became a parent.
- Any situation that could take your loved ones from you causes a flood of anxiety in you.
- You tend to imagine the worst-case scenario—for example, your loved ones being in a horrible accident, your spouse falling in love with someone else, your children leaving you as soon as they get old enough to do so.
- Whenever you are not by your loved one’s side, you become obsessed with checking on them.
- You are convinced you are not lovable and feel like a failure.
- You tend to fall prey to exploitative and abusive people who take advantage of your low self-esteem in relationships.
- Research shows you may experience emotional disturbances, such as anxiety or depression.
- According to some studies, abandonment issues predispose you to a codependent relationship, where partners pathologically need each other.
- Some people with a fear of abandonment end up avoiding love altogether—the rationale being if you don’t love, you won’t be hurt or abandoned.
How fear of abandonment affects your life
Fear of abandonment can manifest itself in many forms. What ties them all together is the powerful subconscious belief that others are a source of pain. You expect them to leave and hurt you.
For example, if your partner is out with their friends or working long hours, you are sure they are cheating. You might be raising your toddler, all the while imagining how they will turn their back on you when they grow up.
In essence, you are living your life convinced that you are loathsome. Such a belief perseveres even when you can see that your friends, family, and partner adore you. You have a sort of imposter syndrome in your relationships. Your mind finds explanations that fit the overwhelming idea about your unlovability. As Marisa Peer put it, while explaining the rules of the mind:
“Your every thought and word form a blueprint that your mind and body work to make your reality.”
When you fear abandonment, this rule means that you will make sure you are abandoned—subconsciously. You will pick the wrong partners. You will act in a way that predisposes you to what you fear the most.
Fortunately, you are not condemned to live like that. You can turn things around. Let us see how you can overcome the fear of abandonment.
How To Overcome Fear of Abandonment
If we want to learn how to overcome the fear of abandonment, we should ask, “How is it maintained?”
Marisa Peer has, time and time again, observed in her clients that trying to avoid rejection only makes the fear stronger. Whether you get emotionally clingy or avoid getting too close to people to prevent getting hurt, you are only giving more power to your fears. In this video, Marisa explains how we find ways to accommodate our fears by avoiding doing certain things—and how to stop doing so.
The most effective and fastest way to overcome the fear of abandonment is by working to uncover the root cause hidden in your mind.
Traditional cognitive behavioral therapies can provide some relief, but as they don’t get to the root of the problem, they often struggle to help clients overcome the fear. Instead, or in addition to such a treatment, you should consider other ways to tackle abandonment issues. Here are a few possible routes to take.
Change the way you see and treat yourself
Many individuals who have a fear of abandonment end up pleasing others at their own expense. Although being generous is admirable, bending over backwards for someone at your own expense can be harmful to you.
Start being kind to yourself before you are kind to others. Self-love is a prerequisite for giving to others.
Marisa Peer developed a fantastic program called I Am Enough. It’s a comprehensive, seven-day program to help you direct your mind to your strengths and abilities. You will learn to dismiss fear, self-loathing, and insecurity.
By repeating, “I am enough,” to yourself regularly, you are implanting a new, empowering belief in your mind. Once you start seeing that you are enough, you will not need others’ reassurance. You will begin to let go of your fear of abandonment.
Change the way you see relationships
People with abandonment issues almost always have a dysfunctional, disorganized attachment style. It means that they lack a consistent and rational approach to a relationship.
In other words, you crave love and feelings of belonging. At the same time, you also fear closeness because you are afraid of getting hurt. As a result, you may be pushing away the person you love while also wanting their love and comfort. It is a confusing experience for both you and your loved ones.
If you have had enough relationships that follow this pattern, Marisa Peer’s Dating and Relationships hypnosis audio bundle can help you. With it, you can begin to change the way you see relationships and break the cycle of going from one dysfunctional relationship to another.
Seek help from an expert
Since fear of abandonment stems from your childhood, you may have internalized the fear of rejection in your subconscious. As such, it may be difficult to tackle on your own. A professional therapist may be able to help you.
You can book a call with one of her trained RTT® specialist therapists who will help you identify and address your childhood trauma. They will work with you to support you in becoming more in tune with your feelings and expressing your emotions with greater clarity. This allows you to be more vulnerable with your loved ones and develop deeper, more meaningful relationships.
How To Help Someone With Fear of Abandonment
Loving someone who is clingy, insecure, or pushes you away is undoubtedly confusing and sometimes painful. First, know that the problem is not in you. As you learned in this article, childhood experiences have made them act and feel the way they do.
To help them feel more secure:
- Know that if you want to help your relationship grow, you need patience and understanding.
- Reassure them that you will not leave.
- Understand their unique experience with anxiety.
- Be mindful of how you communicate.
- Suggest that they reach out to a professional, such as an RTT® therapist.
It is a difficult position to be in, but you can help them take the steps to feel safe to love and be loved.
Have you borne the burden of abandonment issues for long enough? Are you prepared to let go of your insecurities and embrace the new, lovable you?
Don’t wait for another day to pass under the control of your fear of abandonment. Marisa Peer has got plenty of resources ready for you to liberate yourself starting right now. Overcome your phobias and live the life of freedom you deserve.