You just started a new relationship, but your mind is already jumping to the end, worrying about breaking up or losing the other person. Sound familiar? If so, you might have abandonment issues. Here are some of the major signs of abandonment issues to look for and how to deal.
- You’re an overthinker in relationships. If you fear losing your partner and relationship, you may try to find ways to take back control and stop a breakup from happening. This can lead to extreme suspiciousness and incessant overthinking, as you constantly look for threats and ways to stop them. And sometimes, this chronic overthinking can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to more relationship conflict and eventually a rupture that can’t be fixed.
- You settle for unhealthy relationships. You might have a gut feeling that your relationship isn’t good for you. But leaving it—or being left—seems too painful to bear. If that sounds like you, your fear of abandonment may be driving you to stay in toxic partnerships. If you’ve been rejected or lost someone important to you in the past, you may believe that settling for a bad relationship is at least better than not being in one at all.
- You’re never able to enjoy the present moment. This is one of the biggest signs of abandonment issues. When we feel secure in relationships, we can be mindful and enjoy the present moment. But if you struggle with abandonment issues, you might be preoccupied with the threat of breaking up more than you concentrate on the actual current state of the relationship. This can make it hard to have fun and move through relationship milestones organically with your partner.
- You commit too quickly or not at all. People who fear abandonment tend to commit quickly to a new person. It’s not unusual to hop from relationship to relationship, using serial monogamy as a distraction. This way, you never have to feel alone. But in other cases, abandonment issues can get in the way of any commitment at all. If you’re always worried about a relationship ending or losing someone you’ve grown attached to, you may have decided it’s just easier to avoid serious relationships altogether.
- You struggle with insecure attachment. Attachment styles are closely related to abandonment issues. In general, the three types of insecure attachment (anxious, avoidant, and anxious-avoidant) typically involve at least some degree of abandonment issues. If you deal with anxiety in your relationship, feel the need to keep your partner at a distance, or a mix of both, a fear of being abandoned may be behind the insecurity.
- You desperately crave time with your partner. Another of the major signs of abandonment issues is that you can’t bear to be away from them. It’s no surprise that a fear of abandonment may make time apart uncomfortable. You might want as much time as possible with your partner, and when you’re not together, texting and phone calls are a must. This kind of clinginess is a common way of coping with abandonment issues, and though it’s valid to need quality time, too much could eventually drive the other person away.
- To overcome abandonment issues, find the root. Like most fears, a fear of being abandoned has roots in your past. Maybe you felt blindsided by a breakup before, or perhaps you lost someone close to you when you were young. Whether the roots are connected to one relationship or several, validate those past experiences and how difficult they may have been. If you feel burdened by trauma from those relationships or life events, consider speaking with a therapist to help process them.
- Look for exceptions. After finding the trigger for your abandonment issues, turn your attention to some relationships and friendships that have worked. Do you have a family member who always has your back, or a friend who has stayed in your life for years? Recognize the successful relationships, not just the ones that ended painfully. These positive examples of stability can be a powerful reminder that not every relationship will end in abandonment or loss.
- Discuss your fear of abandonment. Abandonment issues may not be sexy, but they’re a part of life, and trying to bury them will likely only make them grow bigger and bigger in the shadows of your relationship. Even if it’s awkward or embarrassing, talk with romantic partners about your worries. It’s never the other person’s responsibility to heal or “fix” you, but by talking about your needs and expectations, you can both work together to create a secure relationship.
- Don’t abandon yourself. Often, a fear of being abandoned by others leads to us abandoning ourselves. We start neglecting our true needs and feelings, choosing instead to keep the other person happy—and in turn, we get to keep the relationship. But above all, the most impactful kind of abandonment is when we give up ourselves in favor of someone or something else. No relationship is worth losing yourself over, even if your abandonment issues tell you otherwise.
The sooner you recognize the signs of abandonment issues, the sooner you can confront and change them. You’ve got this.