A fear of abandonment can be like the elephant in the room of a relationship. Its large and looming presence is always there, casting a shadow over your efforts to let in love and connection.
You might find it hard to truly trust people and let them in because you believe that they will leave you. Like any fear, the fear of abandonment can cause a lot of emotional pain. It also creates a self-fulfilling prophecy pattern in your relationships.
Building a new relationship, platonic or romantic, requires trust and the ability to let go. Both of these things are very difficult when you have a fear of abandonment.
All the fear and trust issues manifest in specific coping mechanisms that often end up pushing the potential love away—the very thing you were trying to avoid!
Here are some common ways that your fear of abandonment can sabotage your relationships:
- You keep your partner on a suffocatingly tight leash.
- You avoid the pain of abandonment by never letting anyone in.
- You use manipulation to get your partner’s attention.
- You look for flaws in a new partner and use it as an excuse to leave first.
- Your emotional triggers surrounding abandonment create constant tension.
If you can relate to any or all of the above, don’t feel bad. Many people struggle with a fear of abandonment. Thankfully, there are better ways to deal with the fear, and start cultivating healthier relationships.
How to overcome a fear of abandonment
1. Take small, but deliberate steps
The teeniest tiniest step taken with clear intention will get you further than sprinting without direction. Allow me to explain…
Have you ever met someone who reads every self-help book they can get their hands on? They’re brimming with knowledge, and yet, their life hasn’t improved. There’s a good reason for this.
Transformation isn’t a race for knowledge. It takes time and intention. It’s important to slow down and truly integrate what you learn. I always tell my students and clients to focus on just ONE actionable step or mindset shift they can do right now.
2. Look for healthy models
If you have a fear of abandonment, chances are you’ve grown up with unhealthy relationship models. Perhaps, your parents divorced when you were a kid. Maybe your dad left.
It’s hard to know how to cultivate strong bonds when you’re surrounded by broken relationships. Look for examples of the kind of relationship you aspire to in your friends or acquaintances.
I once met a couple from Paris while I was travelling. They were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. I asked them the secret to a successful relationship. They both agreed that communication was key. The husband added, “be okay with not being right, so you can be happy.”
Another couple might have given totally different advice. The important thing is to see that a longterm, fulfilling relationship is possible. Don’t give up hope!
3. Let go of unhealthy relationships
One of the laws of the universe is that an empty space must be filled. This is good news if you know how to get rid of what’s no longer serving you.
But if you’re like most people, and you tend to hold onto the familiar—even if it’s causing you pain—you might be blocking what you truly desire from entering your life.
Let go of the relationships that just aren’t working. Let go of the man who makes you feel neglected and unimportant. Let go of the toxic woman who manipulates you. Let go of the people you’ve simply outgrown.
Make room for what you secretly want, but you’re scared to admit out loud. Create a space in your heart and life for someone who will make you feel important and worthwhile.
4. Choose a partner with secure attachments
In your search for love, look for someone with secure attachments. We don’t have time to dive into attachment theory here, but it’s pretty easy to spot people who have secure attachments.
They likely have strong bonds with both their parents. They’ve had healthy longterm relationships and genuinely desire lasting love. They are honest, consistent, and straightforward, never resorting to manipulation to draw you in.
Those with secure attachments know how to give and receive love without fear. They will help you to feel secure, too, so you can gradually overcome your fear of abandonment.
5. Learn to trust again
I know that it might not be easy to trust when people have let you down in the past. Here are a few practices that will help you to trust again:
- Look for the proof: Instead of only focusing on the times when you’ve been let down, make a list of all the times when loved ones have been there for you when you needed them.
- Release emotions: Suppressed emotions stay stuck in our bodies where they create anxiety and even illness. EFT tapping is a great way to release these emotions and fears so you have a fresh start.
- Take it slow: When you do start a new relationship take it REALLY slowly, so you have time to process what’s happening without resorting to your usual coping mechanisms (running, freaking out, controlling, etc.).
I hope you found that helpful, love! Remember that things CAN change and it all begins with an inner transformation. Change what you think and feel on the inside, and your whole life will follow suit.
For more innie wisdom, check out my new book: The Year of The Introvert: A Journal of Daily Inspiration for the Inwardly Inclined.
Over to you
Do you struggle with a fear of abandonment? Share your experiences and thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you!