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3 min read

How To Cope With Abandonment Issues in a Relationship

A couple struggles with abandonment issues

Abandonment issues refer to a broad set of emotional challenges that can cause anxiety or despair about being abandoned by friends or family members.

Key Takeaways:

  • Abandonment issues can look like unhealthy codependency, or as an inability to get close in the first place.
  • It's important to work on abandonment issues to keep yourself, and your relationship, healthy.
  • Therapy can be a very effective way to work through abandonment issues.

Abandonment issues can manifest in a variety of ways, ranging from anxiety about social gatherings to extreme difficulty being honest with a partner. Often, abandonment issues stem from childhood trauma or traumatic events surrounding a past relationship.

If you think you or your partner may have abandonment issues, there are a number of things you can do to cope with the symptoms and begin the healing process.

Read more about how to cope with abandonment issues on this page:

Signs Of Abandonment Issues

What To Do If You Think You Have Abandonment Issues

Therapy for Abandonment Issues: Williamsburg Therapy Group

Signs Of Abandonment Issues

Different people experience abandonment issues in different ways. Some people with abandonment issues can have severe and highly visible panic about relationships, while others might only have low-level anxiety that is easier to mask.

You may be able to tell if you or someone you love has abandonment issues by the way they leave existing relationships or approach future relationships.

People-Pleasing Tendencies

One of the most common signs of abandonment issues is an overeager and often unhealthy desire to please.

A person dealing with a fear of abandonment may neglect their own needs in order to satisfy the desires of a family member or romantic partner, often with the singular hope that whoever it is won't leave them.

The problem with this symptom of abandonment issues is that it can cause harm not only to the sufferer but also to their partner or relationship itself.

A strong need to be liked can lead to unhealthy relationships in which one person takes advantage of the other's fear of being alone.

This unhealthy desire to please people can manifest in other ways too, including:

  • Staying in obviously unhealthy relationships
  • Sacrificing financial security in order to keep someone interested
  • Unnecessary and consistent acts of service

It's important to want to please at a healthy level. Doing things for your partner shows you care about them and love them. But going overboard with it out of fear of abandonment rather than love can be debilitating.

A fear of abandonment in relationships characterized by unhealthy people-pleasing, codependency, and separation anxiety is referred to as an anxious attachment style. People with anxious attachment style abandonment issues form an unhealthy attachment to their partner out of the fear of being left.

Difficulty Trusting Relationships

By contrast to people-pleasing, trust issues can also be a sign of abandonment issues. In romantic relationships, fear of abandonment can prevent partners from ever fully trusting each other.

This makes emotional intimacy difficult, since maximizing trust is essential to maximizing closeness.

Trust issues in a relationship can show themselves through a number of behaviors, including:

  • Questioning where your partner really is after being truthfully told where they're going
  • Demanding unreasonable levels of detail regarding your partner's activities away from you
  • Consistently referencing your partner's potential future relationships, even though they have no plans to break up with you

Excessive distrust in your partner can be a sign that you're afraid they're going to leave. Your brain is constantly looking for patterns from which it can draw conclusions—even if those conclusions are false.

When someone with abandonment anxiety thinks about their relationship, their brain points to the worst-case scenario and then logs it as fact.

They can't just enjoy the relationship because, in their minds, it's already over. As an incorrect logical extension of this, anything their partner does is subject to question: "Did they really go to their friend's place, or were they actually out cheating on me?"

This is why resolving or at least improving abandonment issues is so important. Fear of abandonment creates an irrational basis for thought, which can hurt otherwise healthy relationships.

A fear of abandonment characterized by trust issues in relationships is referred to as an "avoidant attachment style." People with avoidant attachment style abandonment issues have trouble forming close relationships in the first place.

Abandonment Issues (1)

What To Do If You Think You Have Abandonment Issues

There are two main things you need to do if you think you may have abandonment issues:

Self-Awareness Of Abandonment Issues Can Reduce Symptoms

If you find yourself falling into unhealthy patterns of behavior that relate to your fear of abandonment, one of the best things you can do is interrupt the pattern by reminding yourself that there may be trauma or other mental health considerations at hand.

While it's still up to you to make practical changes, acknowledging how your mental health can affect your relationships can provide context for both you and your partner.

For example, if you get into an argument with your partner because you don't trust their explanation of where they were last night, try taking some time to accept that past trauma may be causing you to be more skeptical than is healthy.

Therapy Can Help People With Abandonment Issues Understand Its Root Cause

Many people with abandonment issues go to therapy with a trained professional in order to heal as much as possible.

A licensed therapist will be able to help you dig into what's causing your fear of abandonment and then work to resolve it in a healthy way.

Therapy for Abandonment Issues: Williamsburg Therapy Group

At Williamsburg Therapy Group, our team of doctoral-level couples psychologists offers their unrivaled expertise in all things mental health to patients in the Brooklyn and Austin, TX, areas.

Schedule an appointment today or call us to get matched with the best therapist for you. Feeling better may be closer than you think.

Book a Therapy Session in NYC or Austin Today

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