January 05, 2023

Abandonment Issues: Signs & Symptoms in Adult Relationships.

What is abandonment?

Abandonment is a term used to describe the strong fear of losing loved ones or them leaving us. It is described as an intense form of anxiety affecting us interpersonally (a).

Potential causes of abandonment issues.

Signs of abandonment issues are tied to our early relationship and bonding with our caretakers. For example, neglect, abuse, addiction and personality disorders can create a less suitable environment for the child to form a secure base attachment (b).


Common ingredients of secure attachment are availability, sensitivity, responsiveness, and unconditional acceptance of the child. When children are deprived of this bonding they develop a type of anxiety called anxious attachment (c). This type of attachment style tends to feel insecure and needs constant reassurance that the relationship is safe. 

What is the impact of abandonment issues in close relationships?

The constant need to recreate the original bonding experience plays out automatically in adult relationships. The person may be unable to help themselves from feeling abandoned even when everything seems normal. Many people report that they are aware of the pattern but unable to change their reaction in the moment.


Even in a safe relationship one can feel unsafe and constantly search for signs of betrayal and abandonment (d). We might interpret a slight hint of coldness as a sign that others are pulling back from us. Individuals suffering from abandonment issues often reports the following feelings:

  • A constant need to test other’s loyalty.
  • Exhibit possessive and territorial tendencies in close relationships.
  • Experiencing jealousy and comparison in social dynamics.
  • Difficulty trusting and relying on others.
  • Feeling like an outsider in group situations. 
  • Creating tension to feel close to others.
  • Needing to control the person or situation to feel safe.
  • Feeling extra (too much) in relationships.

Treatment of abandonment issues.

Addressing the core wound (childhood abandonment) is crucial to healing and feeling safe in adult relationships. This journey begins by learning and acknowledging our core wounding and wanting to get better. It may feel easier to continue with the pattern of abandonment, but the cost to our social and emotional well-being can be devastating. It is also important to note that you don’t need a diagnosis to receive professional Counseling. 


Talk therapy is effective in treating childhood trauma and abandonment (e). For example, a recent study in 2018 showed that Cognitive Behavior Therapy could be an effective tool to help repair attachment injuries and reduce our anxiety level (f). Also, the therapy space being empathic, supportive, and safe can facilitate an environment of building a secure attachment (g).

Forming Healthy Boundaries

Another component of healing from abandonment issues is forming healthy boundaries (h). Our wounded parts tend to recreate our childhood relationships, lacking love, acceptance, and care. In doing so, the wounded parts of us tries to heal itself. But recreating such dynamic in an adult relationship does not harbor healing or safety. Rather, such exposure reopens our childhood wounds and leave with a host of mental health issues in adulthood. The best solution is to maintain healthy boundaries and ward-off unhealthy dynamics.


Establishing Self-Care

Lastly, engaging in self-care is critical in healing our attachment injury. Noticing our triggers and being compassionate toward ourselves can help reduce the cycle of negative self-talk (i). In addition, self-care through proper sleepexercise, and a healthy diet can help when we are triggered. Also engaging in confidence-building activities can significantly reduce anxious feelings. But most importantly surrounding ourselves with a good support network can be crucial to the healing journey.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, suffering from abandonment issues can be overwhelming and confusing at the same time. For this reason, you may want to seek professional help to understand the core wounding and learn helpful tools to heal from it. 


This article is not a substitute for seeking professional help. If you are experiencing distressful thoughts, please seek professional help.

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