In the following article, we’ll be looking at some common signs of abandonment articles, and what you can do about it.

What is the fear of abandonment? How can it lead to abandonment issues?

The fear of abandonment is a real struggle that many people face on a daily basis around the world. This is the fear of losing someone close to you or that someone will leave you. It could be that you fear the death of a loved one, or you are afraid your husband will leave for a work trip and never come home.

You may be afraid of getting fired, your girlfriend breaking up with you, your parents leaving. This fear comes in many shapes and sizes and will vary based on personal experiences, but it is there all the same.

When taken to the extreme (with obsessive, irrational thoughts and behaviors), it can affect many of your relationships in negative ways. It can be a major part of the Anxiety Disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and Major Depression.

Though it does not always indicate a mental disorder, it can. It is important to be aware of it, to get professional counseling if you sense it is a becoming a more severe issue.

Where does this fear originate?

This fear of abandonment usually stems from loss or trauma in childhood (a parent left, a close loved one died, incarceration, divorce, abuse, poverty) or not getting one’s emotional and physical needs met in childhood, leading to attachment issues (fear of abandonment could be a part of this).

Examples of emotional neglect include parental ridicule of children, stifling of their emotional expressions, relying too much on children to do parent responsibilities, relying on children to be parents’ emotional support, holding children to standards that are too high, not listening to them, and etc. These behaviors and experiences can dramatically alter a child’s life and worldview, and it can lead to serious abandonment issues in adulthood.

Signs of Abandonment Issues in Adults

  • Lack of emotional intimacy. Too much emotional closeness is too in-depth. They leave first so that the other will not leave them. It is a means of taking back the power and protecting oneself.
  • Clinging to unhealthy and toxic relationships. This is because losing them would be worse, or so they may think. This person will stay in a bad relationship just so they are not left alone, no matter how bad the situation is.
  • The need for constant affirmation and reassurance. They help you believe that this person is not leaving. This stems from distrust, and the need for assurance can be exhausting.
  • Feelings of unworthiness. You may not think that you deserve love.
  • The tendency to move on quickly from relationships that end. Out of a fear of being alone. So any relationship is better than none.
  • An unhealthy attachment pattern. You could attach too quickly, or hardly at all to protect yourself from the pain of them leaving later.
  • The need to please. If you don’t please them, they may leave you.
  • Constantly pointing out flaws (in yourself or others). If, or when a relationship does not work out, you will have something (someone) to blame.
  • Insecurity. You never are sure of yourself or confident in who you are, constantly afraid to be yourself because that may not be enough to keep someone around.
  • Jealousy of others. Thought processes like this: “He seems to like her better. He will probably leave me for her.”
  • A battle with trust. How can you know who is around for the long haul and who will leave?
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism or temporary separation. Your partner does not answer your text for hours, and you panic, assuming the worst. Or you feel like every bad thing someone says to you means that they will leave or that you must not be good enough for them to stick around.
  • A lack of commitment in relationships. This way you are not as easily hurt.
  • A tendency to work hard for approval. You have to have this person’s approval, or he will leave.

Signs of Abandonment Issues in Children

  • Separation Anxiety. Intense anxiety when separated from close loved ones, especially parents. They do not feel safe unless they are with that person(s).
  • Panic when loses sight of parents/close people. Anxiety turns to panic.
  • Fear of being alone. Struggles to know how to play alone or clings to others.
  • Frequent sickness due to stress. This can manifest in various ways like headaches, stomachaches, and etc.
  • Difficulty concentrating. Struggles in school to stay on task because of these fears.

It is imperative to check in with a child when they exhibit these signs in order to make sure that no real abandonment is occurring in the present. If you suspect childhood neglect or abuse, call your local abuse hotline.

If you notice a child is walking through a divorce with his family, his mom just left their family, or something similar, they most likely will struggle with some abandonment issues.

Effects of Fear of Abandonment on Relationships

  • Lack of emotional intimacy and depth
  • The one struggling may be territorial, clingy, and manipulative.
  • Lack of trust. without trust, a relationship is never healthy.
  • Actual abandonment of the relationship. the other may actually leave.
  • Relationship fatigue, not being able to withstand the pressure of the symptoms of this fear of abandonment
  • Codependence

How to Overcome Abandonment Issues

1. Seek a Professional Counselor

This can never be overestimated. Counselors can help you work through any past hurt caused by real abandonment, and they can help you work through your present fears through various therapies, like CBT.

2. Establish healthy boundaries.

Notice if you tend to people-please or do a lot for others with it not being reciprocated. It is good and healthy to say “No,” and this is a word with which you may need to become familiar. If someone “leaves” after you say no, then they probably were not a good person for you to engage with anyway.

3. Begin a consistent self-care routine.

When you take care of yourself, you are demonstrating that you care about yourself. This care helps build a healthy sense of self-worth, which helps build a belief that you are worth someone else’s time.

4. Challenge irrational and unhelpful thoughts with truth.

When thinking about someone you love leaving you (death, divorce, etc.), and your thoughts are a bit irrational, it is important to see that and challenge them.

Replace them with more helpful thought patterns. For example, my spouse has not called to say she is coming home from work yet. What if she decided to leave? Or what if she had a car accident? What would I do? I can’t live without her.

Look at those thoughts, and find alternative ways to think about the situation in a more rational way. For example, my spouse has not called to say she is coming home from work yet. She probably just forgot or got stuck at the office for a couple of minutes. I will text in a bit to see if everything is okay.

5. Find evidence that contradicts the fear.

For example, you fear your mom will leave you like your dad did when you were little. However, she has never given you any reason to believe that she will leave you. She has not left you yet. Hold on to what is true.

6. Hold fast to faith in Jesus.

Remember that even if the world abandoned you, “He will never leave you or forsake you.” Let that be enough.

The fear of abandonment does not have to destroy your life and your relationships, but it can when left untreated. Be aware and take notice if you display any of the aforementioned signs and symptoms of abandonment issues. It is never too late to grow and overcome.



“Swing”, Courtesy of Artem Beliaikin,, CC0 License; “Compass”, Courtesy of Supushpitha Atapattu,, CC0 License; “The Hiker”, Courtesy of Immortal shots,, CC0 License; “Mother and Child”, Courtesy of Flora Westbrook,, CC0 License


Articles are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All opinions expressed by authors and quoted sources are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, publishers or editorial boards of Mill Creek Christian Counseling. This website does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.