Abandonment issues in relationships and dating.
Earlier this morning, a friend messaged me and told me that she had met not just one, but two really cool guys online.
But she also confided in me, telling me that she was now dealing with a different type of fear.
Here is what she said.
How do I get over the fact that it feels really odd/anxiety filled when some people I meet are nice and want to know what’s in my head and don’t care what’s between my legs?
I asked her to expound on this a bit.
She clarified her point with this message.
So I’m used to guys just being interested in fucking me once, and then ghosting me. These past two men I met wanted to know what was inside my head and what I thought about things. I’m not used to being treated that way.
I was starting to get the feeling that there was some kind of fear at play here. She did, after all, use the term ‘anxiety.’
So I dug a bit deeper, and asked her if she could pinpoint what she was afraid of.
I know I’m terrified of people leaving. So it was safer for me to prepare to get ghosted and hurt than actually being treated properly.
At this point, I knew exactly what we were dealing with. And honestly, I see this all the time.
Fear of abandonment, abandonment anxiety, the fear of people leaving… it is really all the same thing.
You are used to being left and disappointed, which makes you uneasy when things start to go really well.
Because if things go well, you are tempted to let your guard down. And once that happens, you become vulnerable again – and that opens you up to getting hurt.
Let’s talk about this a little bit.
Fear Of Getting Hurt Is Understandable
First of all, I just want to say that if you have ever felt this way, please understand that you are not alone.
The fear of being abandoned by a dating partner is very, very real. In fact, I have dealt with this a little bit myself.
I know that it can be scary. So please don’t think that there is something ‘wrong’ with you for feeling this way.
But… I also want to point out that this fear will hurt your ability to form long-lasting, positive, intimate relationships.
To put it very simply, it will keep you from being the confident, self-validated person you are capable of being.
So first of all, don’t beat yourself up over it. But secondly, I also want you to work on overcoming it, because you deserve the chance to form meaningful relationships with good people.
Good dating partners are out there. And if you keep trying, eventually you are going to meet them.
This is great news!
But in the meantime, you also have to work on overcoming your fear of rejection and abandonment so that you can welcome these people into your life, instead of being afraid and potentially pushing them away with your fear.
Why Am I So Afraid Of Being Abandoned?
This is probably the first question you need to ask yourself.
For some people, this goes all the way back to childhood.
For others, it started when they were left by a spouse, partner, friend, or family member.
It can be caused by a divorce, by the death of a loved one, or even by a breakup or an issue that caused you to lose a friend.
If you have ever felt alone or abandoned, and then that feeling grew to take root and build a home inside of you, it is probably still with you.
But it is a bigger demon for some of us than it is for others.
One thing that may be important to understand is that virtually all humans have a reason to fear abandonment.
This isn’t just for people who have experienced particularly destructive trauma. This is literally embedded into our genetic code, and goes back thousands upon thousands of years.
Primitive humans needed a tribe just to survive. And so, being abandoned back then meant almost sure and certain death.
That was a big deal! And so, the fear is very real.
Thankfully, being abandoned by a dating partner is rarely a death sentence in the modern western world. But it still hurts, and we are still afraid of it.
What Are The Signs Of Abandonment Issues?
According to this post, which was published on Medical News Today, the signs and symptoms of abandonment issues look something like this…
- You tend to be a ‘people pleaser’
- You end up giving more than the other person in relationships
- You find it difficult to trust others
- You tend to push people away to avoid rejection
- You suffer from codependency
- You tend to feel insecure in romantic relationships
- You find yourself desiring constant reassurance
- You find yourself unable to maintain relationships
- You battle the need to control the people around you
- You tend to ‘relationship hop’
- You sometimes sabotage relationships
- You suffer from a lack of emotional intimacy in life
Do any of these symptoms sound like they describe you?
If so, you might be dealing with a legitimate abandonment issue, and you may need to work on it a little bit!
Why Do I Push People Away?
Once you understand a fear of abandonment and the anxiety that comes with it, the answer to this question becomes fairly obvious.
You push people away because that is safer and less painful than being left behind or abandoned by them.
It is also possible that you ‘test’ people’s loyalty to you by provoking them or ‘pushing them’ during arguments. You may say or do things that you think will actually get them to leave or get fed up with you… thus proving that you were, indeed, correct… and that this person actually was eventually going to abandon you as well.
The problem with this line of thinking, however, is that it is totally based on how we feel and perceive the world, and not based on the actual facts of the world.
I am about to drop some truth on you that you may not believe at first… but please hear me out, and try to put some energy into at least considering what I am about to say.
When you push people away or ‘test’ them, you may see it as a test. But it is actually a very unpleasant behavior that makes you more difficult to love, and increases the odds that this person will, indeed, walk away from you based on their own desire to have a healthy relationship.
People who do this often find themselves in a perpetual negative loop… where they believe that they will be abandoned, so they push people away, which in-turn causes people to leave, which confirms to them that they were right… when in reality, had they NOT pushed or tested the other person, the relationship may have worked out.
How To Overcome Your Fear Of Abandonment And Keep It From Hurting Your Dating Life
Here are the best tips I know for helping to keep this problem from ruining or hurting your dating life.
Keep in mind that going to therapy is also a good thing, and you should probably do it!
Nevertheless, here are my tips.
Tip #1 – Look Yourself In The Mirror And Tell Yourself That You Accept The Risk Of Being Abandoned, Even Though It Is Scary
The fear of abandonment is, for the most part, an emotional fear.
If your partner leaves you, the greatest danger to you is likely the emotional trauma that you may experience.
This isn’t fun… but it is rarely so dangerous that it will impact your physical health or wellbeing.
So, tell yourself that you are afraid, and that you understand that you are taking a risk… but that you want to take the risk because it is worth it to you.
Here is a mantra that you can tell yourself. Look into the mirror, and speak this to yourself every day.
I know that I am afraid of being abandoned. I know that I push people away. But today, I am choosing to face this fear and take the risk… because I want to find a good relationship, and I don’t want to push the right person away. So today, I will allow myself to trust and be vulnerable. If I get hurt, that is a risk I accept. I accept this risk because I don’t want to hurt my chances of finding true connection with others.
Tip #2 – Remember That Being Alone Is Not A Bad Thing
Sometimes, we get it into our head that being alone is a negative thing.
But this is definitely not true!
Living alone and being single does not make you an undesirable person. In fact, it may even be good for you!
Give yourself permission to enjoy life anyway. You may want a relationship, and that is fine. But try not to dwell on it so much that it brings you unhappiness.
Instead, work on building up your already awesome life to make it even better.
Believe it or not, this ‘self focus’ makes you even more attractive, and will make other potential partners even more interested in you.
But don’t do it to be more attractive. Do it for you, because you love yourself and want to see yourself happy!
Tip #3 – Don’t Give Anyone Else This Much Power Over You
You cannot always overcome your fear of abandonment.
That is fine!
Be afraid of it. Embrace that fear. Accept that you have it. There is no weakness in that.
But also give yourself permission to open yourself up to it. Understand that breakups happen, and be willing to face that fear when it happens.
If you don’t embrace this fear, you will give total control of your happiness over to your dating partner.
Or even worse… you will give control of your happiness over to dating partners who aren’t even your partner yet!
This might seem like an attractive option when things are going well. But it will always feel far worse later on.
Because this person is not you, they are not perfect, and they are not responsible for your happiness!
Instead, embrace this fear and knowingly face it. Take responsibility for it.
Understand that your fear of abandonment does not need to be a part of your dating life.
You can be completely afraid of being abandoned… but also open yourself up to connection and pursue relationships, all at the same time.
You just need to understand that these two things can both exist within you at the same time. And when you realize that, you can treat them both for what they are, and you can take steps to keep them from bleeding over into each other.
In Conclusion – Abandonment Issues In Relationships Are Scary
There is no denying that.
But my desire for you is to face this fear, and go forward anyway.
Please do not let this fear keep you from enjoying the intimacy you could enjoy with other humans.
Also remember that other humans are not perfect either. And that is ok.
You don’t need them to be perfect. And you don’t have to be perfect either.
You just need to focus on being a little bit better every single day.
You will seriously transform your life if you keep working on yourself and loving yourself.
If you want to talk to me about this personally, please feel free to message me!
Go with grace, my friends, and never give up your power.
Until next time…
Joshua K. Sigafus