When you think of abandonment issues, do you see someone who is overly attached to a relationship? Or someone who never trusts others enough to show their emotions? Both can be true. Because abandonment issues can present in a variety of forms, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where they are coming from. But, it is entirely possible to heal abandonment issues through therapy.
What are abandonment issues?
Abandonment issues describe a strong emotional, cognitive, or behavioral reaction to the fear of being left behind. Often, people with abandonment issues are anxious that their loved ones will leave them, even if there’s no evidence that points towards this happening. Abandonment issues can happen consciously or unconsciously and be directed towards family members, friends, or partners.
Origin of abandonment issues
Abandonment issues generally begin in childhood. Children who experience the loss of a loved one early in life particularly show signs of abandonment issues, even into their adulthood. Types of childhood loss can include:
- The death of a loved one
- Divorce or separation of parents
- Moving to a new city
- Loss of a beloved pet
However, adults can also develop abandonment issues as a result of trauma, difficult break-ups with romantic or sexual partners, or the death of a loved one. When a sense of connection or a sense of safety becomes abruptly taken away, this can lead to the fear that it will happen again. This leaves individuals to cope with this fear, which they might do in unhelpful ways.
Symptoms of abandonment issues
When someone has abandonment issues, it can impact how they think, act, or feel. Their anxiety around being left behind can manifest in leaning into relationships too strongly or avoiding relationships at all costs – both sides of the spectrum.
A few common signs that someone has abandonment issues include:
- Being a people pleaser to the point where it negatively impacts their health
- Being overwhelmed with jealousy
- Never trusting others
- Not committing to relationships
- Difficulty having vulnerable conversations, especially about emotions
- Controlling behaviors, especially in relationships
- Repeatedly engaging in toxic relationships
- Moving on from one relationship to another
Therapy for abandonment issues
When someone has abandonment issues, it’s important for them to recognize instances of these issues playing out in their relationships so they can deliberately decrease the impact. Therapy is a great way to grow self-awareness and to talk through how these abandonment issues impact your daily life. Many therapists specialize in helping clients grow healthy relationships or address relationship conflict. By identifying when these issues surface and coming up with ways to mitigate the anxiety, clients can leave their abandonment issues behind and move towards healthy, balanced relationships.