**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.
As an adult with a history of abandonment issues, I admit that being in a healthy relationship is challenging for me sometimes. My partner and I invest a lot of time and effort into creating a healthy relational environment, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Despite this, my abandonment issues can still creep up and present themselves in different ways.
Just last week, my partner was telling me how much he loved me, and as usual, I was surprised. In theory, we all deserve love, but when you have been emotionally abandoned the way I have, it’s hard to accept that love is possible for you.
My abandonment issues have caused me to develop an anxious attachment style, and I often find it hard to allow myself to feel happy. I am predisposed to waiting for the other shoe to drop, and I have sabotaged relationships in the past because of it.
Thankfully, I’ve spent years in therapy, which has helped me navigate my inner landscape during these difficult moments. And my partner is also kind, patient, and understanding, which makes a difference.
Why is it so hard for people with abandonment issues to be in healthy relationships?
The biggest fear of someone with abandonment issues is being abandoned again.
The pain of being abandoned is so great that we often become afraid of experiencing it again. This fear can manifest itself in different ways, such as always being the one to end things first or never letting anyone get too close.
I often held my feelings back when my partner and I started dating. Sometimes I would be riddled with regret for what I wished I would have said.
While my fear of being abandoned wasn’t apparent on the outside, it was always there. And I had to make a real effort to express my feelings because I didn’t want to create unnecessary distance between us.
People with abandonment issues often don’t feel worthy of being loved.
Abandonment issues can stem from a deep-seated belief that we are not worthy of love and respect. This belief leads us to behave in ways that push people away or keep them at a distance. We may be afraid of intimacy or find it difficult to trust people. As a result, we often keep the people we love the most at arm’s length.
As I mentioned earlier, this is something that I am still working to overcome. But through therapy and personal coaching, I have made a lot of progress.
People with abandonment issues tend to self-sabotage when things are going well.
When abandonment fears are triggered, we may start to self-sabotage. This can manifest itself in different ways, such as picking fights, pushing our partner away, or cheating. We may also find ourselves withdrawing emotionally or becoming distant and cold. These behaviors usually end up causing the very thing we are afraid of — abandonment.
Accepting compliments and love is difficult for people with abandonment issues.
It can be hard to accept compliments when you have abandonment issues. It’s not uncommon to disbelieve your partner when they compliment you. You might even find yourself deflecting or minimizing flattering remarks.
I used to have a hard time accepting compliments from my partner. I would downplay his compliments of him or make a self-deprecating joke in response. Thankfully, I’ve since learned to accept his compliments and love from her. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it.
Insecurity and jealousy are common in people with abandonment issues.
Another side effect of abandonment issues is it can cause us to feel insecure. We may constantly worry that our partners will leave us or that they are cheating on us. We may also become jealous of other people in our partner’s life, such as their exes or friends. And jealousy and insecurity make it difficult for the relationship to remain healthy.
This is not something that I have grappled with personally, but I have worked with clients who struggled with jealous feelings due to being abandoned in childhood. And I’ve seen how the green-eyed monster can wreak havoc on good relationships.
It can be challenging for people with abandonment issues to be in healthy relationships. And while you may always have residual symptoms of your abandonment, with effort and support, it can get better.
If you are struggling with abandonment issues, there are many resources available to you, and there is hope for healing.