Are Abandonment Issues Ruining Your Relationships?

Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Do you find it hard or even impossible to trust others? Or do you tend to push-pull in relationships? And often overreact, only to later regret it?

What are abandonment issues?

Abandonment issues mean that deep down, you lack confidence that others can love and accept you. So you live in fear of being rejected.

A hidden part of you believes you aren’t really good enough to be loved anyway. That it’s dangerous to let someone see the real you when all they will do is leave you and hurt you.

Signs you have an abandonment issue

Symptoms of abandonment issues can include:

  • feeling anxious and stressed when in a relationship
  • a tendency to be oversensitive and overreact
  • always listening for criticism or judgements
  • analysing everything others say and do
  • paranoia that people don’t really like you
  • rejecting before being rejected
  • being hot then cold and confusing others
  • choosing aloof or unavailable partners
  • negative thoughts about yourself
  • engaging in short and intense relationships
  • avoiding relationships entirely
  • questioning if love really exists anyway
  • push pulling your partners or being clingy
  • self-blame when things go wrong.

Why would I have abandonment issues?

We don’t develop abandonment issues out of nowhere. Not even a bad breakup would be the cause. Instead, abandonment issues stem from childhood.

Somewhere along the line you learned that the world is a dangerous place and people are unreliable.

This could be from parenting that didn't make you feel loved and safe. Perhaps your main caregiver was unreliable, or gave you the message you had to earn affection instead of deserving it just for being you. Perhaps he or she was not well, and suffered from illness, mental issues, or addiction.

Otherwise, a fear of abandonment comes from a trauma in childhood. This is often physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. But it can also be something like extreme neglect, or losing a loved one.

Other mental health issues connected to abandonment issues

Still not sure your issue is abandonment? Note there are many other issues that can be connected and hide a fear of rejection. These includes:

What type of therapy can help me with abandonment issues?

If your abandonment issues are connected to trauma, then you might need a therapy that helps you stabilise before you delve too deeply into the past. CBT therapy is recommended.

If the abuse was sexual trauma, and/or you have received a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, its recommended to try schema therapy or dialectal behaviour therapy (DBT).

Otherwise, there are several therapies that focus on the ways your relate to others, such as cognitive analytical therapy (CAT)  and dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT).

Or try a therapy that helps you develop more trust in yourself and others, like acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and compassion-based therapy.

Would you like to talk to someone who understands your fear of abandonment and can really help? Our booking tool helps you find a therapist you like at a price you can afford. Why not try a first session?

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