Fear of Abandonment

Fear of Abandonment


The fear of being abandoned is an overwhelming anxiousness that someone close to you will leave you. This usually stems from a childhood (traumatic) loss, a parent s loss due to divorce or death. People who suffer from this fear of abandonment build an inability to maintain healthy relationships.

This fear can interfere in two ways in relationships:

  • Builds an emotional wall to hide behind in order to avoid getting hurt and
  • The person unintentionally ruins relationships. 

An individual s early attachment type functions as an internal working model for their future relationships. Men and women have almost equally been suffering from fear of abandonment (Schoenfelder et al., 2010). Adolescents and young adults fears of abandonment during a young age with their caregiver related to their anxiety in romantic relationships and depressive symptoms years later (Schoenfelder et al., 2010).

The fear of abandonment is not always related to family and moves on to romantic relationships but may also stem during friendships. Fear of abandonment is also possible emotionally. Emotional abandonment fears that people fear a loss of emotional connection than a physical one.

Do not confuse fear of abandonment with separation anxiety for toddlers. For babies, such anxiousness is natural and normal. You may observe them cry and scream when taken away from their primary caregiver. At an early age, they are not capable of understanding if and when their caregiver will return. Gradually, they begin to develop this understanding and outgrow this anxiousness.

If you or someone you know suffers from this fear, know that the first step towards letting go of this fear is acknowledging the feelings and why they are there. Note that fear of abandonment could also arise from some personality disorders.

Symptoms of fear of abandonment in adults include the following:

  • Always trying to please people

  • Co-dependency

  • Very sensitive to criticism

  • Blaming oneself if the relationship does not work

  • Commitment issues

  • Staying in the relationship even when not healthy

  • Quick attachment

  • The constant need for reassurance

  • Avoiding relationships to avoid getting hurt

  • Trusting issue

  • Sacrificing too much to keep the relationship going

There are ways to handle your fear if your fear is slight to moderate. This can be done by educating yourself and learning healthy coping styles. However, if your fear of abandonment has deeper roots, it can be challenging to resolve them yourself. In such a case, you should highly consider speaking with a trained professional.

Begin by developing a feeling of connectedness with not a single person but a group of people. We get too attached and stick our expectations to only one person. A group of trustworthy friends can play significant roles.

It may sound daunting because growing up with a fear of abandonment makes it difficult to make strong friendships. However, it is not too late! At whatever age you are, it is essential to be surrounded by like-minded people. Note your hobbies, work talents, and goals. This makes it easy to find people who enjoy things you take pleasure in as well. Not all people you find that share your interests become close, but indeed opens networking. Along with networking and working on your goals builds self-esteem and boosts confidence levels and prepares you to handle whatever comes your way and not depend on others.

If you find it challenging to deal with your fear, a licenced therapist can help you well. They can tailor treatment plans for your suitability that is best for you.

Once you have set your mind to overcome your fear, it would not be as tricky as dealing with your fears without knowing where they stem from.

Written By: Zahabiya

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Schoenfelder, E. N., Sandler, I. N., Wolchik, S., & MacKinnon, D. (2011). Quality of social relationships and the development of depression in parentally-bereaved youth. Journal of youth and adolescence, 40(1), 85-96.

Joyce, C. (n.d.). Fear of Abandonment. https://www.psychalive.org/fear-of-abandonment/

Leonard, J. (2020). What to know about abandonment issues. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/abandonment-issues

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