Loss is frightening. In childhood, losing a beloved toy is nothing less than devastating. In adolescence, losing a cherished friend can alter the entire trajectory of your life. In adulthood, losing a trusted partner is devastating. A series of losses in childhood, into adolescence, and over into adulthood can cause a giant spike of fear to grow as you age, and can lead to the outright terror of losing someone you love. This fear is not healthy, though, and often leads to behaviors that are not conducive to a loving, caring relationship, including jealousy, control, and manipulation. How, then, can you overcome the fear of losing a loved one?
Why Does This Fear Of Losing Someone Grow?
The fear of losing someone you love or losing the love of your life typically begins in childhood. Although childhood loss and trauma might not seem related to romance and romantic relationships, your childhood relationships form the bedrock for all of your future relationships, and you very often carry the wounds inflicted by parental relationships and friendships in childhood well into adulthood. The most common source of this fear is parental neglect or abuse.
Oftentimes, parents do not even realize they are being neglectful. The father who is always gone to provide for his family might feel as though he is parenting beautifully; after all, his children are fed, enjoy a good education, and have all they could ever want. The problem is, material comforts do not and cannot replace the love and comfort of a parent's presence. Even the most well-meaning parents can severely harm their children's psychological well-being, by not being around enough, or being absent while sitting together, whether that means being on the computer or phone all of the time, or struggling to connect emotionally.
Loss can also prompt feelings of fear for future losses. If a loved one has died, or someone you loved and trusted left or betrayed you, you can develop a strong fear of having the same thing happen again. Very often, these feelings are not easily recognized and identified, but function as a silent undercurrent to your day-to-day life and only show themselves when a new relationship has begun. These feelings can show up in the form of clingy and controlling behavior, unrealistic demands placed on your partner, and the need to be in constant communication.
Symptoms of the Fear of Loss
Fearing the loss of loved ones is a fairly typical fear, and does not necessarily indicate a larger problem. It is when fear becomes overwhelming, debilitating, or otherwise problematic that you may need to seek help.
What are the symptoms of fear that have gone too far?
If you find yourself pushing your loved ones away or failing to cultivate relationships as a whole because you fear the worst possible outcome, your fear has grown problematic. If you cannot connect with the loved ones you already have because you are afraid of how much it will hurt the day they die, or the day they leave, you may be looking at an inappropriate fear of loss.
If you find yourself avoiding love, closeness, and vulnerability, you may also have an inappropriate fear of loss. Avoidance is rarely a healthy behavior, and avoiding the closeness and community that friendship, love, and romance bring is denying yourself a vital human experience. Although missing out on this experience may not seem like a big deal, never experiencing deep love could result in a number of negative consequences, including those in the realm of physical health; people with long-term partners consistently demonstrate greater health than those who live or do life alone.
Can My Fear Of Losing Someone Be the Fear of Loss or Fear of Abandonment?
The two are one and the same. The fear of losing a loved one is the same as the fear of being abandoned. Losing someone you love can come in many forms. Death can take your loved ones, but so can a new job, an unexpected life change, or losses in other areas. Unfortunately, loss is a part of life, and cannot be inoculated against. Although it seems to make sense to adopt an attitude of, "I'll abandon you before you abandon me," you feel pain in both situations. Instead of experiencing the pain of not having love or your loved one, however, you will experience the pain of loss. In loss, you have memories to keep love and hope alive, while in avoidance, you don't have anything to keep your spirits elevated.
Fear of abandonment is a thought pattern that can be worked on and treated via therapy. Trauma therapy and talk therapyboth can be helpful in navigating this particular problem, as most abandonment issues are borne of unresolved trauma. Many people develop abandonment issues in childhood, when parents are neglectful, emotionally distant, or have literally abandoned their children, and children learn that the people they love the most cannot be relied upon.
There are currently no pharmaceutical options available for abandonment issues, but related conditions may be treated medicinally. Many people who suffer from abandonment issues often experience depression or anxiety-or both-in addition to the fear of being left behind, and these conditions can be treated with medication. If this is the case, some people may use pharmaceutical medication as part of their treatment plan.
What to Do When You Lose Someone You Love
Sometimes, the fear of abandonment is realized, and your loved one passes away, leaves, or is taken away. Although learning to deal with the fear itself is important, you may at some point have to cope with your worst fear being realized. The manner in which you grieve will likely depend on the circumstances surrounding your loss, but many of the symptoms of grief will be the same. When you've lost a loved one, there are some healthy ways to cope.
- Let Yourself Grieve. If you lose a loved one, regardless of circumstances, it is healthy to allow yourself to grieve. It may be tempting to try to leap into a new relationship or find a quick replacement for your loss, but this is likely to do more damage than good. Grieving is not a linear process; you do not grieve for a few days, weeks, or months, then move on. Instead, grief can ebb and flow, and slam into you without warning months or even years down the road-and that is okay. Give yourself the space and grace to grieve.
- Take Some Time. If you've lost a loved one to death, abandonment, or any other source, give yourself time to slow down and rest. While you may not be able to take time off of work, school, or your responsibilities, carve out time to breathe, meditate, or engage in some form of wellness practice. Losing someone can be emotionally exhausting, sure, but it can also take a lot out of you mentally and physically, so you might need to take additional time to rest.
- Allow Yourself to Feel.You're going to feel-a lot. You might feel despair and pain one minute, and overwhelming rage the next. That's okay! Dramatic shifts in mood are normal parts of the grieving and loss processes. You might also experience intense feelings of guilt if you experience moments of joy or happiness in the midst of your pain-and that's okay, too. Allow yourself to experience a wide spectrum of emotion without pressure. You will heal, with time, effort, and space, but the process can be long, arduous, and uncomfortable.
Love and Loss
So, how to deal with losing someone you love, or the fear of losing love? Most importantly, you need to identify why you are experiencing this fear. Childhood trauma, previous losses, and abuse can all explain these fears. Professional help is often an incredible tool for people with fear of loss, as therapy can more effectively and carefully help identify childhood trauma, emotional damages and needs, and the roots of your fear.
The fear of losing someone you love does not make you strange, broken, or flawed; instead, it means that you might need to work harder in your romantic relationships to learn how to trust, let go, and allow relationships to unfold in an organic, natural way. People will disappoint you, people might die unexpectedly, and sometimes, the people you trust will let you down and leave. When this happens, give yourself space to grieve, to feel all of your feelings (big and small), and to take time for yourself, as all of these are absolutely essential aspects of healing following a great loss.
Healing from loss can take a long time. It might seem like it should only take a few weeks or months-especially if your relationship was young-but healing from loss may take upwards of six months or several years, regardless of how much time you spent together; emotional ties will determine the duration of your healing far more than the length of time you spent together. Healing from loss and easing fear of loss is a collaborative effort, but can lead to an emotionally healthy, fulfilling life, rather than a life of fear and uncertainty.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How do I stop worrying about losing someone?
Is it bad to be afraid to lose someone?
It isn’t inherently bad to be afraid of losing loved ones, but it can be negative for your life in some ways. Most people are afraid of losing the people that they love and it’s seen as a common fear. However, an average person is generally capable of moving forward despite that fear of losing loved ones. You might have a problem with focusing on your fears more than a typical person does. Stop worrying about what could happen so that you can enjoy your life more. Of course, telling someone that they should stop worrying won’t always be enough to solve the problem.
If you can’t stop worrying about losing loved ones no matter how hard you try, then you might need help. At this point, your fear of losing someone is definitely a bad thing. If fear holds you back from living your life in many ways, then you need to try to seek help and fix things. Losing a loved one is a terrible thing, but you can’t let the fear of that get to you too much. If you’re a very sensitive person who worries more than normal, then talking to a professional about your fears could make a big difference. This could make it easier to focus on personal growth and start enjoying life again.
Some people need help with fears because they lead them to develop eating disorders. Get your issues checked out so that you can avoid problems such as eating disorders, addiction ADHD, general depression, and extreme anxiety. Therapy makes a big difference in many lives and you can find a therapist today if you’d like to. You can find a therapist online or you could find a therapist for local therapy at a clinic. They will help you to alleviate your anxiety symptoms while also focusing on your personal growth.
How do you deal with the thought of losing someone or the fear of losing someone?
Learning to deal with the thought of losing someone can help you to live your life like normal. If you have death anxiety, then you might fear losing someone due to an accident. Things like this can happen in life, but fearing that these things will happen will often be counterproductive. You know that death and dying are natural aspects of life. You need to be able to push your fears of death and dying aside and focus on the positive aspects of life. Instead of focusing on death and dying or other things that make you worry, it’s better to give attention to positive things. For example, you might wish to focus on enjoying your time with your loved ones or just having fun. Enjoy their company and live in the moment. Even putting more focus on your work would be healthier than fixating on the thought of losing loved ones. Personal growth can sometimes help you to move past your fear.
The problem with this is that not everyone is so good at making their mind focus on the right things. If you struggle with your thoughts, then you could find yourself getting worried about losing a loved one more often than you’d care to admit. This fear of death can permeate your life if you don’t take care of it. Many people deal with this and most have found success by using coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms are commonly used by people who suffer from anxiety.It’s a way to mitigate anxiety symptoms to help you feel better over time. You can continue to live and be happier if you learn about coping mechanisms.
You can learn about coping mechanisms from a therapist if you’d like to make an appointment. You can find a therapist very easily and it’ll help you a lot with your issues. It’s also possible to read about coping mechanisms online to get more ideas. Simple coping mechanisms can involve closing your eyes and taking deep breaths when you start to feel panicky. If you start to worry about losing loved ones and you feel that sense of dread in your body, then you can use your coping mechanism. Take deep breaths and count to ten. Sometimes that might help your negative thoughts to disappear. Coping mechanisms can also be more complex than this, but this is a solid example of a simple coping mechanism that you can utilize.
- What can I do when I hear losing my child?
Fear of losing a child is another issue that can pop up for adults. Having a child is a very big deal in your life and a lot of your identity is wrapped up in being a parent. Some parents wind up worrying so much about losing their children that they wind up smothering their kids. This is not a great thing, but it’s understandable to be afraid of losing a child, too. You need to try to let go of that fear so that it doesn’t negatively impact your parenting personality. Your parenting personality is going to play a big role in the development of your child and you want them to grow up strong. Be mindful of your choices and realize that sometimes you have to let go despite your fear.
- What are the signs of trust issues?
Another common reason why people are afraid of losing those that they love is that they have developed trust issues. When you have trust issues, it will make you less likely to be trusting of others. Perhaps you’re worried about losing your loved one due to them not loving you any longer. You might be concerned about your partner cheating on you or simply getting bored and moving on. Such fears aren’t completely unusual, but they are typically unfounded. Trust issues can come about due to someone having bad experiences in the past. They can also happen when your partner gives you a reason to doubt them.
If your partner has been acting strangely lately, then that might set your trust issues off. This could make it so that you are worried about losing loved ones more than usual. If you suspect that something is off with your partner, then you really need to talk about it. Sometimes people go through personal struggles due to being overworked or dealing with other types of stress in life. You shouldn’t assume bad things about your partner when you love them. For instance, it’s never appropriate to jump to conclusions and assume that your partner is cheating on you. Don’t talk to your partner negatively and accuse them if you have nothing but suspicions based on changed behavior.
Signs of trust issues involve people not being willing to open up. Someone might seem standoffish when you approach them about a subject. You might also notice that someone will ask you where you have been when they don’t trust you fully. Certain people with severe trust issues even check their partner’s phone or email address without asking and do other unacceptable things. You don’t want to be a person with trust issues who acts irrationally. Avoid exhibiting behavior like this and instead choose to confront your fears. Be honest and ask if something has changed while letting your significant other know that you’re there for them. It will likely lead to better results.
- How do you make a guy scared of losing you?
It isn’t really healthy to worry about trying to make your boyfriend scared of losing you. This sort of behavior is unbecoming and it isn’t going to help you out. If you want to build a strong relationship, then you need to be honest about your feelings and intentions. Sometimes you might worry about the future of your relationship or you might be concerned about your partner not taking things seriously. You don’t need to try to artificially make your boyfriend scared of losing you to change things. The more mature thing to do would be to have an actual discussion.
Talk about what has been going on in your lives and any concerns that you might have. Sometimes people will act differently because of stress, addiction, ADHD, personality disorders, or any number of other things. Even the sexual desire of your partner can change because of stress. Don’t assume bad things because of sexual desire changes. You need to get to the bottom of the situation and address what is going on. If your partner does have an issue, then you can get help together. Even people with personality disorders can get things under control and your relationship can improve. A little bit of honesty and clear communication goes a long way.
Some people do try to make their significant others afraid of losing them, though. You might use your relationships sex practices as a way to do this. Never use your relationships sex life as a way to make your significant other afraid of losing you. It makes it seem like you don’t care about your partner. You should stop worrying about making your partner afraid of losing you. It’s better for you both to feel secure in your relationship.
- How do you know when a guy is scared of losing you?
You can tell a guy is scared of losing you when he tries to keep you close. Some men can even be a little bit smothering with affection when they’re afraid of losing their significant others. They might start trying really hard to get your attention. Typically, a man needs a reason to be afraid of losing loved ones before he would start acting differently. If your man sees someone flirting with you, then this could prompt him to act this way. There are many things that could make a man (or a person of any other gender) jealous or insecure in a relationship. It might be good to think about what you do on social media as well if you don’t want your partner to get the wrong idea. Even hitting “share tweet” on a particular tweet could make your partner jealous or nervous about losing you.
It would be best for you to reassure your significant other to make him feel less scared of losing you if indeed you actually care for him. You don’t want him to feel anger, anxiety, and other negative emotions because of your actions. Anger anxiety can be particularly troubling and you can avoid this by being a good partner. It might be good to know that your man cherishes you enough to feel afraid of losing you, but that doesn’t mean that you should want him to remain scared. Be a bit more careful before you hit “share tweet” on social media and try to show your partner that you love him.
- Why do I worry about losing my girlfriend?
As mentioned earlier, worrying about losing someone isn’t entirely uncommon. Many men and women worry about losing the ones that they love. This could mean fearing losing loved ones permanently due to death or it could mean referring to losing someone because they left you. It’s normal to worry about losing a loved one, but you shouldn’t focus so much on it. A little bit of fear is rational, but you shouldn’t have an irrational fear of losing her. Some people fear losing their significant others more than usual due to mental health conditions. If you suffer from mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, then you might worry more about losing loved ones such as your girlfriend than a typical person would. Some people even suffer from panic attacks due to how much they worry about love and loss. If you’re experiencing panic attacks related to your fear of losing your girlfriend, then that definitely isn’t good and you need to find a therapist.
Losing loved ones in the past could make it tough for you to avoid worrying about losing loved ones moving forward. For example, you might have lost a parent or close friend at a young age. It’s normal to feel worried about losing others when you have experienced love and loss already. Getting past these types of feelings might even require a bit of help. You might want to spend some time talking to a therapist about the pain of loss. Seek professional help and find a therapist if you’re worried about losing your girlfriend so much that it bothers you deeply. You might be able to go through types of therapy that will help. There are many tests therapy can put you through to determine what is going on. These tests therapy options will help you determine exactly where your anxieties are coming from.
You can find a therapist that can help people to get through the pain of loss. There are many times where certain types of therapy will reveal that a person is still grieving even after years of being separated from a loved one. When you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, it’s very easy to worry about losing loved ones again. Allow a good therapist to help you through this time in your life. When you’re grieving, it’s possible to find new ways to move forward. You just need a little advice as well as some solid coping mechanisms. You’ll be able to move forward without worrying quite so much about losing your girlfriend.
Therapy is Personal
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- RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) - 1-800-656-4673
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- NAMI Helpline (National Alliance on Mental Illness) - 1-800-950-6264
For more information on mental health, please see:
- SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) SAMHSA Facebook, SAMHSA Twitter, SAMHSA LinkedIn, SAMHSA Youtube
- Mental Health America, MHA Twitter, MHA Facebook, MHA Instagram, MHA Pinterest
- WebMD, WebMD Facebook, WebMD Twitter, WebMD Instagram, WebMD Pinterest
- NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), NIMH Instagram, NIMH Facebook, NIMH Twitter, NIMH YouTube
- APA (American Psychiatric Association), APA Twitter, APA Facebook, APA LinkedIN, APA Instagram