Fear of being abandoned: why? how to recognize it? solutions?

Abandonment syndrome is characterized by an eternal fear at the thought of being abandoned or left behind by the other. It can have an impact on the professional life (in relation to colleagues or superiors) and in the personal life (families, friendships, relationships). Anxiety can even become ubiquitous and control patients’ daily lives, to the detriment of their mental health and their relationships. What are the causes of this phenomenon? How to overcome the fear of being abandoned? Insights and advice from Manuela Braud, psychologist and doctor of humanities.

What is Abandonment Syndrome?

The fear of being abandoned is not a pathology in itself, but “a set of anxious manifestations related to relationships and attachment“, States the psychologist. When one suffers from the syndrome of abandonment, one lives in the permanent fear of being rejected and abandoned by the other. It is often a projective fear : there is no objective reason to believe that we will be abandoned by our friend or our partner, the source of anxiety is in us and most often dates back to our childhood.

Where does the fear of being abandoned come from?

The reasons for the fear of being abandoned depend on the history of each person. To identify them, you often need to go back to childhood:

The fear of being left behind by the people you love generally reproduces a childhood wound, real or symbolic, says Manuela Braud.

In other words, it can be related to a traumatic event, or experienced as such, which changed the child’s relational balance and gave rise to a feeling of instability followed by separation anxiety. E.g :

  • lack of attention and affection (real or felt),
  • physical or mental abuse,
  • departure of a parent who no longer provides anything new after a divorce or separation,
  • the loss of a parent or loved one,
  • etc

If the child’s distress goes unnoticed, it can make him feel guilty: “I am responsible for the situation”, “I do not deserve to be loved”, etc. It is therefore important to be aware and to communicate.

This phenomenon may also be related to relational trauma experienced in adulthood, as a violent break in love or friendship, the psychologist specifies. Our psychic foundations are laid in childhood, but certain life events can destabilize them.

“It is important to identify it as soon as possible because you can transmit the fear of being abandoned to your children!“, the specialist insists. An anxious parent may in fact tend to develop a fusion relationship with his child, which may compromise his relationship to autonomy, especially on the emotional level. Parents must allow their child to divorce in a healthy way., in order to “give up” them.

How to recognize a dropout?

There are two dropout profiles: some enter into a relationship, live in anguish and dare not end it. Conversely, others are very aware of their problem, or even of its origin, and prefer to avoid or distance oneself from relationships quicklyin order not to take the risk of being left behind.

Wondering if this applies to you? Some signs may give you the flea in your ear:

  • you seek to please others at all costs;
  • you tend to have dysfunctional or unbalanced conditions;
  • you have difficulty trusting others and you feel easily betrayed;
  • you have difficulty maintaining long-term relationships, and you sometimes deliberately sabotage your relationships;
  • moving quickly from one relationship to another;
  • you experience a sense of insecurity in your romantic and friendly relationships;
  • you often need to be reassured;
  • you sometimes want to control others, express jealousy or be possessive;
  • etc

Abandoned people are often aware that something is wrong, but they are helpless. That is why the support of those close to them and encouragement of introspection is so crucial, notes Manuela Braud.

The consequences of abandonment anxiety

The fear of being abandoned has many consequences for the lives of abandoned people: a low self-esteemlack of self confidence, great anxiety (with all the physiological consequences), incessant doubt driven by fictitious disaster scenariosa strong response to stress… They constantly need to be reassured by the other’s presence and love (affective addiction), which on the relational level can prove difficult for others to deal with. In some cases, this turns into unhealthy jealousy: the abandoned person can become controlling, even become an executioner and make his partner flee.

People suffering from abandonment syndrome can also develop greater permeability to addiction and depressive disordersbut also to eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia, orthorexia, etc.). They also tend to forget themselves completely as they spend all their energy on earning the other person’s respect and making sure he or she does not leave them.

“A person who is afraid of being left behind can accept everything, including including physical and mental violence“, warns the psychologist. Their emotional dependence makes them very vulnerable to abuse from manipulators and narcissistic perverts.

How to get rid of the fear of being abandoned?

Like any fear, you have to face it. Freeing oneself from the fear of being abandoned is a long-term job: “we can not wait for the other to insure us permanently, it will not work and the fear does not disappear by itself”, emphasizes Manuela Braud. The first thing to do is to work on your confidence (learning to love yourself for your qualities and your mistakes, learning to identify and better manage your emotions, etc.).

This involves in particular therapeutic follow-up to free yourself from the grip of the past and soothe your wounded “inner child”. “When you feel like you’ve been left on your own, abandoned, cheated, betrayed, and you think you do not deserve attention, you have to rehabilitate yourself in your own eyes : learn to love yourself, rediscover your qualities, your passions, etc. “, recommends the psychologist. We thus transform the vicious circle into a good circle.

Several activities can also help reconnect with themselves:

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