Loss is a natural part of life. Everyone is faced with the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship at some point. However, someone with symptoms of abandonment issues lives in constant fear of such a loss. This persistent worry about others leaving them, even when there’s no evidence they will, is a form of anxiety usually rooted in an experience that was more than their emotions could handle at the time.Early childhood events such as the traumatic loss of a parent, physical or emotional neglect, and rejection, are the biggest contributors to the fear of abandonment, but it can also be precipitated in adulthood when, for instance, a romantic partner unexpectedly leaves a person’s life through sudden death, divorce, or a painful breakup.
Being left by someone you love can be devastating. It can crush your self-esteem, giving you the impression that you’re not worth it, and lead to negative behavior patterns that may ruin existing relationships, as well as prevent the development of healthy new ones.
Common symptoms of abandonment issues
Cycling through relationships. Fear of being abandoned can lead you to engage in numerous shallow relationships, which you then find ways to sabotage before the other person has a chance to leave you first. You do things to push your partner away to avoid being surprised or hurt by the loss.
People pleasing. You worry about not measuring up to other people and are always trying to please. You may tend to give too much of yourself in your relationships to keep your partner from leaving, and then worry that he or she does not appreciate or reciprocate your efforts.
Need for constant reassurance. The painful memory of being abandoned can lead you to expect that others will abandon you as well. You feel unworthy of their love and insist that they prove it by jumping through hoops. This continual need for reassurance may harm the relationship, draining your partner, and eventually scaring him or her away.
Clinginess. Anxiety about separating yourself from your partner can lead you to be very clingy and demanding. You tend to overthink things and look for hidden meanings. You see conflicts as cause for concern that your partner may leave you, and you act out of fear. Even the simplest perceived slight is taken out of proportion, convincing you that your partner no longer loves you. Eventually, this behavior may drive your partner away.
Codependency. If your lack of self-esteem is due to childhood abandonment, you may seek relationships that support your beliefs about yourself and others, thus reinforcing these negative thoughts.
You tend to attract romantic partners and friends who exploit your fear of abandonment, and because of your insecurities and feelings of unworthiness, you may stay in an unhealthy relationship you desire to escape because your fear of being alone is even stronger.
Trust issues. Abandonment issues can impair your ability to trust others. You may feel insecure about your romantic partnerships and friendships and have trouble trusting the other person’s intentions. You tend to worry that your partner is cheating on you, or in the case of a friendship, that someone else will take your place,
Intimacy issues. It is difficult for people with abandonment issues to be intimate with another person. The fear of abandonment can lead you to put up a wall around yourself to avoid getting hurt. You feel as though you can’t be open with others or trust them. As a result, you may appear distant, private, and withdrawn.
Comforting Bible verses for people dealing with abandonment issues
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
You are God’s child and are of great value to Him. Nothing can separate you from His love.
Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close. – Psalm 27:10
God has said: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5b
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. – John 14:18
But to all who receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. – John 1:12
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you. – Psalm 9:10
God has promised to never leave you or forsake you. Even when everyone else abandons you, God never will. He is faithful to the end, even when we are not.
God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? – Numbers 23:19
Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. – Psalm 23:3
God never changes. He is the only one whose word can be trusted one hundred percent of the time. People make commitments they can’t always keep due to circumstances beyond their control such as sickness, accidents, delays, and death. All God’s promises, however, are yes and Amen.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. – 1 Peter 5:7
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. – Psalm 34:18
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. – Hebrews 4:15
At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” – Matthew 27:46
When you feel abandoned, meditate on the above promises, and think about Jesus, crucified, who cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). You can pour out your heart to Him because He understands what you are going through, and can empathize with everything you feel, including abandonment.
When Jesus took on human form, he accepted all the limitations of humanity, though He never sinned (Philippians 2:6-7). Not only did Jesus experience every emotion and temptation we are subject to, but He also experienced physical limitations such as hunger, thirst, and fatigue.
Benefits of counseling for abandonment issues
Counseling provides a non-threatening venue for exploring your symptoms of abandonment issues, discovering the root cause of your fears, and recognizing triggers so that you can learn to nip worrisome thoughts in the bud as soon as you sense them popping up.
A trained therapist can help you work through your issues, identify negative thought patterns, teach you how to replace them with positive, more realistic ones, as well as show you how to establish healthy boundaries.
If you would like to set up an appointment, please contact me or one of the other faith-based counselors in the online counselor directory. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss a treatment plan and provide practical techniques for dealing with self-sabotaging abandonment issues.
Ann Pietrangelo (February 13, 2019). What Is Fear Of Abandonment, And Can It Be Treated? Healthline.com/health/fear-of-abandonment.
Courtney Telloian (November 5, 2021). Abandonment Anxiety, How To Understand And Overcome Your Fear, PsychCentral.com/health/fear-of-abandonment.
Jayne Leonard (February 26, 2020). What to Know About Abandonment Issues, Medical News Today.com/articles/abandonment-issues.
Kimberly Holland & Kristeen Cherney (May 7, 2020). Identifying and Managing Abandonment Issues, Heatlhline.com/health/mental-health/abandonment-issues.
Lisa Fritscher (June 15, 2020). Understanding Fear of Abandonment, Verywellmind.com/fear-of-abandonment-2671741
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