How A Fear Of Abandonment Can Affect A Relationship

By: Mary Elizabeth Dean

Updated January 13, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Ann-Marie Duncan

If you struggle with a fear of abandonment, you probably know it can wreak havoc on a relationship. The constant worry that your partner will leave you can ironically drive them away. Sometimes you may even leave them just to avoid them leaving you. But no matter the cause of your fear of abandonment, you have options to get help. You are a whole person worthy of love and affection, and you should be able to enjoy meaningful intimacy without the sabotage of fear. This article will help you better understand how a fear of abandonment can affect a relationship and how to move forward.

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How to Move Past Fear of Abandonment

Fear of abandonment usually begins in childhood, so it's understandable that moving beyond it may take some work. The good news is, if you enlist the proper help and take the right steps, you will open your eyes to a whole new way of thinking, which can bring about healthy, long-lasting relationships.

The first step is recognizing your problems. Once you know the monster you're fighting, you can arm yourself accordingly. There are several steps you can take to defeat a fear of abandonment. A few examples include rebuilding your confidence, learning to trust again, and letting go of the past.
We'll talk more about these suggestions later in the article.

Fear of Abandonment is a Widespread Issue

Fear of abandonment robs you of your inner peace and makes it difficult to thrive in a relationship. Even if you meet the most dedicated person, you'll feel isolated. But you're not alone. Most of us can relate to this feeling and have had to deal with it at one point or another.

For those who allow fear to take over their lives, there's hope. With the help of therapy and a little patience, many people have discovered newfound love and life. If you are willing to utilize the tools and let someone in to help you, you'll be able to experience this, too!

What Is a Fear of Abandonment and What Does It Mean?

Abandonment fear often stems from worries that a loved one will leave us. This worry can be caused by inadequate physical and emotional care throughout one's childhood. If you had a parent abandon your family when you were little, you saw first hand the damage that abandonment can cause. It affects the entire family, mother, and children, and throws off the balance of the home. Such children develop a mistrust of adults. The fear of abandonment grows as they begin to worry who the next person to leave them might be.

Your fear of abandonment might prevent you from forming trusting bonds. You may begin to feel as though you're incapable of being loved, and this would then in turn negatively affect your self-esteem and self-image. Then, with low self-esteem coupled with a difficult childhood, you might develop this fear of abandonment and the fear you're going to spend the rest of your life alone.

How Will This Fear Impact My Relationships?

One might think this fear would dissolve in the presence of a committed relationship, but that's not usually the case. Those fears can manifest in ways where the person firmly believes their partner will leave them and that it's just a matter of when, not if. So, they live each day worrying about being abandoned and not being able to give all of themselves to their relationship. They accuse their partners of cheating or making attempts to leave them. They feel as though they're unable to trust their partner's word, as their trust was broken by others in the past.

However, what this does is create a rift between them and their partner and will make the prophecy self-fulfilling. By living as though their relationship is ending, they end the relationship. They usually don't see how they contributed to their relationship's demise. They just simply believe they are "doomed" in a relationship, they are "unlovable," and that everyone in their life leaves them without explanation. Therefore, without having this insight, the issues at hand will not be rectified and they will move onto the next relationship and the struggles continue.


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Can This Affect Other Relationships?

The answer is yes. Most people who have a fear of abandonment do not only have this fear with a romantic partner. It could also manifest with parents, friends, and children. Usually, these fears develop throughout a person's childhood. Often, there is a parent absent from the home or may leave home suddenly and without warning. When this occurs, that child feels abandoned by their parent. However, if this parent also comes and goes throughout the child's life, they may not trust their parent is going to stay around.

Fast forward to teenage years, and you have someone with the potential to be a very clingy friend. They may want to always be around their friends and get upset if their friend makes a new friend for fear they'll be left behind. If their friend knows their family history, they may understand this clinginess, but it may also become annoying. If that's the case, they may cease the friendship. That would then become a loss, and to that teenager, further reinforce their fears. Without having the insight into how they contributed to that loss, the cycle will continue.

Once into adulthood, they are in and out of relationships due to their abandonment fears. They become involved with a person whom they have difficulty trusting and whom they think will abandon them. They fear intimacy and are afraid to love. Without being able to reciprocate feelings, their partner leaves. They continue to avoid responsibility for the downfall of yet another relationship and the cycle continues. Unfortunately, this can continue for all relationships in a person's life until they finally realize how they may be contributing to this cycle of "everyone" leaving them. True, they could not control the behaviors of their parent, but recognizing that this is where these feelings began, and that they do not need to continue is key. Once this is realized, the rebuilding can begin, and they can live a happy and healthy life with a life-long partner.

How Can I Have a Lasting Relationship?

The very first step toward enjoying life with someone is to be able to squash that fear of them leaving you. It's much easier said than done. However, it must be done. You need to rebuild your confidence, both in yourself and in your relationships. You need to be able to understand that you are, in fact, lovable and worthy of love.

Understand Your Fear Of Abandonment And Move Forward
Speak With A Couples' Therapist Today!

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By improving your self-esteem, you will learn to understand that you do deserve love and you need to find someone who is worthy of your love. Only by doing so will you be able to feel as though you should be in a committed relationship. This may not be something you can do on your own.
Through BetterHelp, you can access licensed therapists available to provide online counseling about this very topic. Online counseling is completely professional and private but provides full therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home.

The next step is hard. You need to be able to trust. For some people, this is a humongous struggle, especially if their past trust in people has been betrayed. However, each new person in our lives is worth a new effort. We cannot punish them for mistakes someone else made. Instead of living each day waiting for them to leave you, put forth all the effort possible to try to keep them in your life.

This doesn't mean you should put up with actions that are abusive or make you feel uncomfortable. But rather, do not set your relationship up for failure before it's truly had the chance to begin. As mentioned above, utilizing licensed therapists is an ideal way to address these issues. The therapy can be both one-on-one with a therapist, as well as couples counseling to build upon your relationship.

Am I Doomed?

Of course not! At any given moment, anyone can change. It can happen even without support and guidance of a professional, but it will not be easy, which is why getting help from a professional is recommended.
Once you let go of that fear, you'll feel as though a heavy weight has been lifted off your chest, and you'll find yourself seeking those relationships you'd like to last a lifetime. You'll wholeheartedly believe you deserve that love, and you'll be able to work toward strengthening that relationship, rather than sabotaging it with fear.

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Remember, there are people in your life that love and care about you. And again, you can utilize the help right here at BetterHelp, as well as any licensed therapist, to build yourself back up again. Fears can be debilitating, but overcoming a debilitating fear can be an exhilarating feeling and is so worth it in the long run.

How BetterHelp Can Help

Once you've decided to take control of your inner peace, you might need a guide. With the help of a licensed counselor or therapist from BetterHelp, you will be able to reach out to someone from the comfort of your own home and start your journey immediately. Read below for some reviews on BetterHelp counselors.

Counselor Reviews

"Kara has provided a safe space for me to express my fears and anxiety. She has provided me tools to help manage my anxiety and continues to support me."



"Brandon has been great and really instrumental in helping me get through a difficult period in my life. He is non judgmental, responsive and a great listener. He is also great at reading into what you are saying and finding the underlining cause of your fears and helping you work through it. I'm excited to continue the work to heal with the help of Brandon."



For anyone struggling with a fear of abandonment, the road to freedom can seem daunting. But with the right guidance and a little faith, you can leave all your problems in the past. You don't have to live in fear for another second. Take the first step today.


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