Abandonment Issues: 7 Symptoms You Can’t Ignore!

fear of abandonment

Abandonment Issues Exposed

By: Couples Counseling Chicago Staff

Do you suspect you have abandonment issues? Has someone told you that you attach yourself to another in relationships too soon and too fast? Do you avoid entering into relationships because of an intense fear of getting dumped? Do you sabotage your relationships – even when things seem to be going well, because you don’t want to have your heart broken down the road? Do you look for flaws in a potential mate as a way of ruling out any possibility for romance?




If you answered yes to these questions, you likely have abandonment issues. In plain speak, this means that deep inside, you fear being rejected by others, particularly in the romantic sense. This doesn’t mean you are “sick” or are not capable of love. It does mean, however, that finding intimacy can be a major challenge.

This article will explore 7 specific signs that may suggest you struggle with abandonment issues. The material presented here is based on a consensus of input from the Chicago based couples counseling experts here at the Center, along with scientific research that comes from the behavioral sciences.

Common characteristics and traits of people who fear abandonment will be offered with resources and recommendations for creating positive change. Are you ready to learn more about abandonment issues? Let’s jump right in!

abandonment fears revealed

What are abandonment issues?

At their core, abandonment issues are intense fears of being rejected by another. These fears often act as barriers to meeting new people or prevent you from getting emotionally close to another. Concerns over being hurt and the ensuing emotional pain often serve fuel for the “fear of abandonment” engine. The paradox going is that many who hold these fears also happen to struggle with codependency issues.

Who has abandonment issues?

Abandonment issues can manifest in women and men alike and can in fact be an equal opportunity destroyer – a destroyer of relationships and lasting romance. While there is no “test” to assess for fears of abandonment, there are common characteristics and traits that are generally universal in those who hold these fears. Let’s take a look at some of these.

What causes abandonment issues?

The issues that cause a person to have abandonment fears run the gamut however, a few of the major reasons can include but are not limited to:

7 signs abandonment fears

Abandonment issues: 7 Signs

What follows are 7 common signs that you may have abandonment issues. It is important to note that the signs listed here are not intended to be exhaustive. Some of these characteristics may be obvious while others will cause you to think. Read all of them in their totality in order to grasp their deeper meaning.

1. You attach too soon to another

If you become instantly attached to another – meaning soon after you have met a love interest – it is usually a dead giveaway you struggle with abandonment issues. People who attach too quickly are often described as clingy by their mates, which can have the effect of driving potential love interests away.

2. You exhibit excessive controlling behaviors

Do you try to control a love interests comings and goings? Is there a history of you irrationally questioning where the person you are dating is going? Do you constantly inquire about their interactions with others? If so, this is a sign of mistrust and a major characteristic of abandonment issues.

3. You find flaws in potential mates

Do you start creating a list of “flaws” in a person who has expressed an interest in dating you? Are some or all of these flaws irrational in nature? Do they act as barriers for getting more serious with another? If you answered yes to these questions, it may be a sign that you are afraid of being hurt, thereby causing you to manufacture “glitches” that kill any possibility of a relationship in the cradle. Some people also refer to this trait as having a prince charming fantasy.

4. You sabotage your relationships

When things are going well in your relationship, do you find a way of messing things up? Do you throw monkey wrenches into happiness by picking fights, pointing out problems and amplifying the negative? If this sounds familiar then it goes without saying you have some abandonment issues. A way of knowing that you are sabotaging your relationships is if you fight unfairly.

5. Constant fears of cheating

Do you constantly live in a world of paranoia that your significant other is cheating on you? Are these thoughts irrational and devoid of any of the actual signs of infidelity? When you combine this specific point with point #2 (controlling behaviors) does it drive potential suitors away? If so, this can be a major indication that abandonment fears are at play.

6. You expect perfection

This point is similar to point number 3 with the difference being that you have unrealistic expectations of perfection in a mate. An example might be telling someone you are seeing you want to breakup after a minor disagreement. Another example is having the false belief that your mate will sexually satisfy you each and every time you are intimate. This is an issue that often comes up in sex therapy with a couples counselor.

7. You have commitment issues

Are you a serial dater? Do you have trouble committing to one person? Are you addicted to the “newnesss” of a relationship but as soon as the honeymoon is over, you invent a reason to cut things off? If you answered yes to these questions – there is a good chance you are stuck on the abandonment issue merry-go-round.

fears of abandonment scale

Abandonment Issues Intensity Scale Based on Responses

Minor Abandonment Issues Moderate Abandonment Issues Severe Abandonment Issues
3 out of 7 4 out of 7 7 out of 7
You exhibit a few signs of abandonment You exhibit moderate signs of abandonment You exhibit strong abandonment issues
Issues may intensify over course of time. Some impact to your relationships but not catastrophic Your issues likely have caused you serious relationship problems Relationships (if any) are difficult at best to enter and do not last very long

couples in love

Freemdom from abandonment issues

If the characteristics and signs mentioned above strike a chord of familiarity, know that you are not alone. Many people struggle with fears of being hurt – particularly as it relates to romance and love. If you were emotionally traumatized as a child, these fears can become amplified.

The good news is that you can take steps towards creating positive change. One of the best ways to work though these kinds of issues by gaining the assistance psychotherapist that is trained in the area of human attachments. Here, we are talking about one on one talk therapy that focuses on relational patterns.

Speaking of attachments – it may be helpful for you to know how you romantically attach to others. FYI: Make sure that you think of the entirety of your relational history before you jump to any concrete conclusions.

Abandonment issues resource

The path towards healing from abandonment issues starts with educating yourself more about how these problems manifested in the first place, which helps you to gain new insight on how you can repair trust within your inner child.

An excellent book we would like to recommend is Love Me, Don’t Leave Me by Dr. Michelle Skeen. Inside, you will find page after page of reparative wisdom to help you heal from the dark shadow of destructive abandonment fears. This particular resource is a must read for anyone trying to change course and purge themselves of toxic baggage from the past. We highly recommend.

Final Thoughts

As couples counselors and relationship therapists, we encourage our clients to not be so hard on themselves when it comes to their abandonment issues. The way we love is learned and is frequently handed to us a blueprint from early childhood. This is why it is so important to avoid the temptation of labeling yourself as “broken”. Here is the deal – you are not.

What is important that you know is simply this – you are worthy of happiness. Once you begin the process of emotional healing, you can move about the business of being in a loving, supportive relationship with another. While the process may take some time, it is well worth it!

Be sure to take our fear of abandonment poll below as a way of expressing what you are dealing with. Please come back from time to time to see how your results compare with others.

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