Overcome the fear of abandonment and have a healthy relationship

If you struggle with a fear of abandonment, you may be profoundly aware of it or you may have a nagging feeling that it’s impacting your relationships and your life. Now, you want some tips for how to deal with the fear in ways that will bring you closer to the healthy, loving relationship that you deserve.


Do identify the past experiences that resulted in your fear of abandonment

In order to move forward, it’s important to visit the past--not to dwell or ruminate, but to bring awareness to what is driving your current behavior. It is important to recognize that you are reacting to past experiences that were largely out of your control.

Do identify your patterns of behavior that are pushing people away rather than bringing them closer

Usually these behaviors are so automatic that we don’t even think about them. Take the time to stop and think about how you react when you fear someone is pulling away. Then you can take recognize your impulse to engage in the behavior before you act on it.

Do identify situations that trigger your fear of abandonment

Again, bring awareness to what is happening in your interactions with others. Do you panic when you don’t receive an immediate response to a text, email or voicemail, fearing that you are being left or rejected?

Do identify types of people that you are drawn to who may be toxic for you

If you have a fear of abandonment there are types of people who will be toxic for you like--the abandoner, the abuser, the depriver, the devastator, and the critic. These people are not healthy relationship material for you.

Do be mindful in your interactions with others

It’s important that you stay in the moment when you are interacting with others. When your fear of abandonment gets triggered, it’s easy to get transported back to the past and engage in behaviors that are unhelpful.


Do not beat yourself up when you make a mistake

Treat yourself with compassion. You deserve it. When you make a mistake--and you will--acknowledge the mistake without judgment, accept the pain without struggle, care about yourself, and comfort yourself.

Do not keep your stories about abandonment alive

Stay in the moment with your experience rather than using it to keep your stories (which are real and painful) alive or to fuel your catastrophic stories about the future (e.g.“no one will ever love me”).

Do not deny parts of yourself and your past

Accepting yourself as you are is important. You must accept that you had painful experiences in your childhood and adolescence, accept that you might have more relationship challenges because of your fear of abandonment, and accept that there is an alternative to blaming yourself or others.

Do not hide yourself from others

You have probably spent most of your adult life hiding your vulnerabilities from others. Just the thought of revealing them might trigger feeling of fear or shame. Effective self-disclosure is an important part of developing healthy and lasting relationships.

Do not stay stuck in the past

When we are in pain, it is difficult to let go of the sources of our pain. If you are attached to the experiences that caused you pain, it will keep you from engaging in new patterns of behavior that will bring you closer to the healthy and lasting relationships that you deserve.

Jumping cartoon

Fear of abandonment is very real and powerful. Recognizing its power over you and your behavior is the first step in dealing with the undeniable pull to protect yourself. It is possible to create a new relationship with yourself, your fear of abandonment, your story, and your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors by committing to the changes that you can make to enhance your life and create the lasting, loving relationships that you desire.

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Michelle Skeen, PsyDPsychologist and Author of Love Me, Don’t Leave Me

Author of LOVE ME, DON’T LEAVE ME: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment & Building Lasting, Loving Relationships, psychologist, radio show host of Relationships 2.0 with Dr. Michelle Skeen on KCAA-1050AM...

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