The fear of abandonment is an intense and overwhelming emotion. Even if we do not know how to put it into words or live with it, the behaviors resulting from its existence are toxic to us and those around us. How does it manifest itself and what can we do to deal with this fear?
The fear of abandonment is an old wound
Like most of our fears, the fear of abandonment has its origins in childhood. Respectively, I cannot feel abandoned or develop this fear unless I am in a relationship, the loss of the significant person being the trigger.
When we are small, significant people (or attachment figures as they are also called by psychologists) are members of our family. We rely on them to survive, we need them to develop and they also shape our emotional life. Most wounds occur in these relationships, and later, their healing will also take place in a relationship. That is if we change the pattern, the scenario that we will tend to repeat over and over again.
What does such a scenario look like? Let’s start with a potential original scenario: “Maria is 8 years old, and her parents decide to divorce. Her parents quarrel very often, and Maria has already learned that in order for things not to get worse, she must be “good.” With the divorce, there is abandonment – the departure of the father – and a first conclusion that even if it is good, this does not guarantee that everything will be ok. After the divorce, in order to manage better financially, the mother goes abroad to work, leaving Maria with her grandmother. The second abandonment already occurs, from the mother. Maria forms a close bond with her grandmother, who becomes the most important figure of attachment. Four years later, however, the mother decides that Maria should come with her. So, the third abandonment occurs, the loss of the grandmother who remains in the country. “
How do we anticipate the appearance of this fear
If we take Maria’s case, exposed above, we can imagine it as a more serious situation (with a triple abandonment) or, we can imagine what happens in the soul of a child who finds that he cannot rely on the adults in her life. We are not talking here about the fact that maybe divorce was the best choice and maybe my mother, once she leaves for another country, will give Maria a chance at a better life. We’re talking about Maria’s emotional life.
In order for this wound not to occur or its effects to be diminished, in case of divorce, the parent who leaves (will no longer live with the child under the same roof) will not interrupt the relationship with the child and will remain present and involved in his life.
The departure of a parent to work abroad cannot fail to leave traces in the child’s soul. Those who leave are driven by goals that also target the child’s interest, but it always depends on what set of priorities we prefer: a loved, protected child who feels safe or a child who can afford more expensive clothes and modern gadgets with shortcomings. emotional issues?
A broad discussion would take place here, in which social and economic factors cannot be ignored. Every situation always has its share of drama, of difficulty in making the right choice, which, often, due to the lack of options, ends up being “the least harmful”. Let’s not forget that, many times, when parents make mistakes, they can do it with the best of intentions.
How we choose partners when we live in fear of abandonment
The scenarios in adult life, when we live with the fear of abandonment, have some variations, but they repeat the same theme: we will choose partners who will abandon us. Respectively, a first scenario is to enter into relationships with married partners or in another relationship.
Basically, they are never fully available to us and we even feel protected, as we will not be fully involved either. It is a beautiful lie, but it does not last in time. At some point, we will want more from the relationship, and then we will trigger abandonment through actions designed to put pressure on the other in making a decision – most of the time, the partner will remain in the relationship he was before.
This confirms our fear of abandonment, the fears we have in a relationship, namely that it will not last, that we can not trust our partner, or, worse, that we are not valuable enough to be chosen.
The fear of abandonment also means a lot of self-sabotage
Another scenario is the contradictory one in which we have a partner we can rely on, who gives us what we need, and to whom we end up manifesting a set of behaviors with the role of removing him, of determining him or being unfaithful to us. , or leave us.
In short, we make him abandon us. Either we do not realize what we are doing, or we live with the unconscious fantasy that whatever we do, “he who loves us does not leave us.” Fake.
There are two reasons why we choose partners to repeat the abandonment scenario: either we feel in our comfort zone (yes, the comfort zone is not a fluffy armchair with matching pillows), respectively we repeat what we already know, and this gives us a feeling of control, or we hope that “this time” we will not be abandoned and we will be able to “fix” the scenario.
Behaviors springing from fear of abandonment
We can imagine the fear of abandonment as clinging to the place, prey to anxiety, anxiety and worry, distrust of ourselves and (even less) in the partner. We are not wrong, especially if we understand that most of the time we are not even in touch with what is happening in our subjective life and we seek to superficially explain behaviors and thoughts.
Respectively, if your parents are not divorced, you will not find yourself in the story. But if your parents were not emotionally available, they neglected your needs or showed selfishness, and you learned the fear of abandonment.
Among the most common behaviors, one quite difficult to manage by us but also by the partner is the need for control. The need to know, to anticipate, not to have the slightest trace of doubt about the partner. Respectively, if we could know what he was thinking, it would be perfect. However, for our own good and the good of others, it is healthy not to read our thoughts…
The need for control often becomes suffocating, and its result is the activation of the abandonment scenario: “I will encamp you so much that in order to free you from my pressure, you will abandon me.”
Equally, quarrels, remarks and criticism are part of the arsenal of a person who is afraid of abandonment. If the partner is late or does not answer the phone, the anxiety will culminate, the negative scenarios will take place (he ignores me / I don’t care for him / he is safe with someone else), and the reunion will be an explosive one: I will be angry, I will blame him, I will accuse him, I will ask him for explanations… Easy to understand how the partner feels in such situations.
How we manage the fear of abandonment
Most likely we will live with this fear all our lives, but understanding it, we manage to detach ourselves from the wound from childhood, assuming, first of all, that we are no longer the helpless children of that time.
When I was little, I had nothing to do with adult decisions. Now, we are the adults, and the decisions are ours.
A healing relationship is with a partner who has a style of secure attachment, a partner with whom we can build that emotional intimacy in which to acknowledge our vulnerabilities and negotiate cooperation.
In this situation, cooperation means meeting halfway. I, the one with the fear of abandonment, will contain my discomfort when fears and anxiety appear, I will control my external behavior. You, my partner, will accept and validate my needs and you will have the patience to provide me with security and information that will answer my worries.