What is abandonment anxiety?

People with abandonment issues may experience problems in relationships because they fear that the other person will leave them.

Signs and symptoms of abandonment issues in adults include:

  • always wanting to please others (being a “people pleaser”)
  • giving too much in relationships
  • an inability to trust others
  • pushing others away to avoid rejection
  • feeling insecure in romantic partnerships and friendships
  • codependency
  • a need for continual reassurance that others love them and will stay with them
  • the need to control others
  • persisting with unhealthy relationships
  • the inability to maintain relationships
  • moving quickly from one relationship to another
  • sabotaging relationships
  • lack of emotional intimacy

Individuals who experienced abandonment in childhood may find themselves drawn to people who will treat them poorly and eventually leave them. When this occurs, it reinforces their fears and distrust of others.

Signs and symptoms in children
In children, some degree of worry about caregivers leaving them alone is common. Separation anxiety is a normal part of development in infants and very young children. It typically peaks between 10 and 18 months and ends by the age of 3 years.

Separation anxiety and abandonment issues become a concern when the symptoms are severe or continue for a long time. In children, a fear of abandonment may manifest itself in the following ways:

  • constant worry about being abandoned
  • anxiety or panic when a parent or caregiver drops them at school or day care
  • clinginess
  • fear of being alone, including at bedtime
  • frequent illness, which often has no apparent physical cause
  • isolation
  • low self-esteem
  • In severe cases, such as those in which a child has experienced the loss of a parent or caregiver, they
  • may develop unhealthy ways of coping, such as:
  • addiction
  • disordered eating
  • lashing out at others, either physically or verbally
  • self-harm
  • sleep problems

When you feel abandonment anxiety rising, say this:

  • They are busy
  • They did not leave
  • Space is healthy
  • They do not always have to respond
  • I did not do anything wrong
  • It is OK
    Repeat.

Also see the The Anxiety Toolkit.

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Embolden Psychology
Embolden

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

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