Connection is a hardwired human need. Fear of abandonment usually stems from the loss of a parent through death, divorce, general absence, or even adoption. If children are limited in their ability to form secure, safe attachments then these wounds can influence adult behavior and healthy relationships.
If a child has endured consistent loss, all of those feelings and memories can be reignited in adulthood when triggered.
If your biological father abandoned you as an infant, that fear and pain might prevent you from having functioning and thriving relationships.
On a broader level, intense fears of losing a connection with a loved one can fuel abandonment concerns. Usually, these fears originate from moments when someone let you down or failed to take care of you. Abandonment can be real or perceived, emotional or physical. Some examples of childhood abandonment include:
- Children who felt deserted due to divorce, death, foster care, or daycare
- Children who felt forsaken because of verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse
- Children whose basic needs were not met by their parents.
There are many other forms of abandonment that may be less obvious but by no means less significant.
- Parents who were emotionally unavailable
- Siblings who constantly teased their brother or sister
- Children who felt routinely ignored and were left to solve problems without guidance
- Adolescents who were criticized and made to feel that making mistakes was prohibited
- Other abandonment wounds occur from peer rejection, chronic illness, relationships ending or prolonged singleness
Common Fear of Abandonment Symptoms
Fear of abandonment is involuntary. Because of life events that were out of your control, this fear has been instilled inside of you. Here are five symptoms that are associated with a fear of abandonment.
1. Chronic insecurities
Abandonment can cause a severe fear of rejection, damage self-esteem, and bring about a host of other insecurities. The insecurities crop up and, in an attempt to hold onto someone out of fear, you end up pushing him away.
Your thoughts might immediately go to, “I’m unlovable. Nobody will ever love me.” The need for constant reassurance from other people causes stress in relationships. It’s important to be able to affirm yourself without needing someone else to affirm you.
You hold deep feelings of unworthiness. The insecurities intensify as the fear that abandonment will occur again plagues your mind.
2. Re-enacting Trauma
Habits are hard to break. Because of low self-esteem and past experiences, people with a fear of abandonment often find themselves being drawn to the same patterns in adulthood. Many people place themselves in relationships that end with being discarded or abused.
When someone re-enacts trauma it’s a subconscious effort to resolve past trauma. This could manifest by being attracted to the “wrong” person who is noncommittal and hurtful. You begin to project your insecurities on those around you.
As you cling to those around you, they feel suffocated from accusations that are thrown at them like, “You will leave me. You don’t love me anymore. You don’t need me.”
3. Growing Distrust
People with pain from abandonment were usually deserted by someone they trusted. As a result, these people learned to create boundaries and only rely on themselves for protection. They build an emotional barricade that keeps others from getting too close.
This growing distrust coupled with heightened sensitivity can create conflicting behaviors. On the outside, the person acts tough, but on the inside, the criticism, feelings of being misunderstood and other negative comments will cause emotional destruction.
4. Mood Swings
A breakup or fracture in a relationship is hard to handle on a normal day, but for someone with a deep-seated fear of abandonment, a wave of depression and anxiety can crash over you. In an effort to self-protect, you might try to numb your pain or detach completely from it. The feelings of emptiness and loneliness chip away at your heart.
You are constantly paranoid that the ones you love will leave you at any moment, and you over-analyze what others think of you and say about you. You struggle with feeling defensive and misunderstood. A surge of jealousy toward others can consume you.
5. Self-Sabotaging Relationships
Shame and condemnation bombard you daily. An onslaught of thoughts around worthlessness fills your mind. Those who can relate to a fear of abandonment normally find themselves wanting to cling to people, yet wanting to avoid intimacy at the same time.
To someone with a fear of abandonment, the thought of intimacy can mean being controlled and surrendering independence. To risk fully exposing their heart puts them in a vulnerable space. They reject first before they can be rejected by someone else.
Christian Counseling Helps Overcome Fear of Abandonment
Living with a fear of abandonment can make you feel unwanted and not good enough. If you believe you might be struggling with some of the symptoms outlined in this article, a Christian counselor can help redirect you to confidence boosting, uplifting thought patterns.
You don’t have to stay stuck. Refuse to allow this fear to become an obstacle between you and healthy relationships. Counseling is a safe place to navigate your story and find the strength to move forward in life.
“Self-hate”, Courtesy of Louis Blythe, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Abandoned”, Courtesy of Christopher Windus, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Boots,” courtesy of holeysocksart, pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Contemplation,” courtesy of Simon Powell, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)