It’s normal to feel a little uncomfortable or insecure about a new romantic interest or boyfriend. But if you find yourself worrying too much about being dumped and abandoned by others, you may have a fear of being abandoned.
“Separation anxiety is an overriding fear” that people close to you can leave you,” says dr. Nereida Gonzalez Berriosa certified psychiatrist. “You are in a state of constant fear that people around you will leave or that you will be left alone, or isolated in a social structure.”
For example, says Gonzalez-Berrios, you may feel someone you love dearly will leave you and never come back. You may experience feelings of isolation and inability to connect emotionally with others because you are always overwhelmed with fear of being left alone, or you could feel emotionally neglected and not heard by the people who matter most in you to live†
Fear of abandonment also symbolizes insecurity, low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness, dr. Gonzalez Berrios says:† While the condition is not classified as a official phobia, she notes the “worry seems to get worse over time” when left untreated.
So where does fear of abandonment come from, what are the signs and what can you do about it?
Where does the fear of abandonment come from?
Fear of abandonment is often rooted in some kind of attachment trauma that has made it difficult for you to trust others.
†[Fear of abandonment stems from] when someone you are attached to, usually a parent during your early childhood, but not always, somehow abandons you,” say Brianna Sanders, a licensed professional advisor. “Whether they abandon you physically, neglect you emotionally, be present but harm you in a way that betrays your safety, or even if they die unexpectedly –these can all be forms of attachment trauma. From this traumatic event, your nervous system rewrites itself in a way that allows you to minimize the damage from future possible abandonment.
These traumatic events can arise from the loss of a parent or partner through death or divorce, or through some kind of betrayal of someone you trusted, resulting in fear of being left behind.
How does fear of abandonment manifest itself?
Fear of abandonment can take different forms, and is usually linked to your attachment style in relationships. Sanders says this fear typically manifests itself in three ways: fearful attachment, avoidant attachment, and fearful attachment.
Anxious Attachers “are preoccupied with making sure their attachment needs are met”, explains Sanders. †the looks like constantly checking if someone still likes you, he easily notices if someone’s communication patterns are changing or declining, and feeling like it’s your responsibility to make sure others don’t leave at any cost. Without doing these things, you experience a lot of fear. The purpose of fearful attachments is to maintain closeness, because proximity [equals] safety.”
Those with an avoidant attachment, “avoid getting attached to others for fear of abandonment”, says Sanders. †This is like distancing yourself from people when you start to feel closer to them, avoiding vulnerability and keeping things superficial, and need a lot of space, especially in romantic relationships. The purpose of avoidant attachments is to maintain independence, because independence is equivalent to: safety.”
People with a fearful attachment,”want to experience closeness and maintain their independence, but are afraid of both,” says Sanders. †Usually, the caregivers of anxious attachments were very unpredictable, so it’s hard for them to feel safe in close relationships, but they also feel anxious without close relationships. Their actions can seem very confusing from the outside because they are not sure how to alleviate their fear of abandonment from within.”
According to Dr. Gonzalez-Berrios are other signs of separation anxiety:
- tries to quickly connect with unknown people
- attention seeking tendencies
- no long-term healthy relationships
- nitpicking, blame tendencies
- never takes responsibility for wrong behavior
- feels hurt and sad when left alone
- feels jealous when someone else talks to their loved ones
- lack of trust in others
- looking for hidden meaning in tthe behavior of their loved ones
- lack of emotional control
- constant doubts about relationship status
- cimmediate fear of potential losing a partner, parent, friend or child
How to deal with separation anxiety
Because fear of abandonment usually stems from deep-seated insecurities and childhood trauma, Dr. Gonzalez-Berrios says that the key is to try to understand the roots of your trauma, preferably with the help of a therapist or counselor.† Consider “Why…you feel sad, or what happens when people leave you?” she says† †If you can identify the worst-case scenarios, you can face your fears boldly.”
Sanders says it’s also important to recognize that the things you once did kept you safe. “Give gratitude for your defenses, and give them permission to leave you as you begin to create inner security.”
Another exercise to consider: Connect with the part of yourself that is afraid. “Notice how you talk to yourself right now,” says Sanders† †Notice how it anchors your current patterns and separation anxiety. Notice where it comes from and how old you were when you learned to be afraid that people would leave you or neglect you emotionally.†
And finally, it is crucial to create security within. “Create an inner voice of the person you needed as a child to not let you down”, Sander says† †Talk to yourself as that person when you experience separation anxiety. Once you can bond securely to yourself, [you can] heals the separation anxiety with consistency over time.”
The best way to do all of these things, according to Sanders, is through regular meditation practice† “Just starting at five o’clock” minutes per day and up to 15 minutes per day. If you are a beginner in meditation, there is no shame in using guided meditation. I even recommend it.”