How To Overcome Abandonment Issues—Everything You Need To Know

Abandonment issues (also known as fear of abandonment) are a common type of anxiety. Nobody likes to feel abandoned or rejected, but those with abandonment fears are especially sensitive to potential rejection.

Dealing with abandonment issues can be tough. They often impact our quality of life, relationships, and mental health. As such, it’s important to investigate our abandonment issues and take the necessary steps to overcome them.

If you fear abandonment, there is nothing wrong with you, but learning how to overcome this issue can help you improve your quality of life. 

Below we’ll explore the causes and symptoms of abandonment issues to help you understand this common mental health struggle. We’ll also offer evidence-based tips and advice on how to overcome abandonment issues, followed by advice on how to help someone you love get through their struggle.

General Therapy

How to overcome abandonment issues

We can overcome abandonment fears through:

  • Education on the nature of abandonment issues
  • Self-care and self-validation
  • Compassionately led therapy

The first and perhaps most crucial step is to recognize these fears for what they are – fears – and not a reflection of your worth or value. 

Investigating with compassionate curiosity the roots and causes of these issues can help us practice self-compassion and forgiveness, two key elements in any healing journey.

1. Understand the signs and symptoms

Fear of abandonment is a unique experience for each person affected. Still, common signs and symptoms to look out for in yourself or a loved one to help you recognize this fear include:

  • Anxiety around being single
  • Intense anxiety around rejection or break-ups
  • Heightened sensitivity to rejection and criticism
  • Persistent feelings of shame
  • Tendency to self-blame around relationship issues
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Difficulty trusting a partner

In terms of behavior, fear of abandonment can lead us to:

  • Coping with emotional stress through food or substances
  • People-pleasing in relationships
  • Codependent behaviors in relationships
  • Being quick to attach to a new partner
  • Cycling through romantic relationships that do not serve you
  • Difficulty maintaining healthy relationships

2. Understand the causes of abandonment issues

There is a myriad of root causes of abandonment issues. These are the following:

Attachment styles

Abandonment issues typically stem from an insecure attachment style.

During our development as children, we form an attachment style based on our relationship with our parents or caregivers. The quality of this relationship influences our self and worldview as we continue to develop. 

When this relationship is experienced as safe, attuned, and loving, children develop a secure sense of self and feel confident interacting with the world.

When some aspects of this relationship becomes overwhelming, such as neglect, abuse, or misattunement on behalf of the caregiver, the child is likely to develop an insecure attachment style. 

Understandably, nobody is perfect, so a parent may not always attune to their child, but what’s important is that there is attunement most of the time.

Insecure attachment styles appear in two ways – anxious attachment and avoidant attachment. These are not fixed types, and a person with insecure attachment may exhibit characteristics of both types at different times.

While not everyone who experiences insecure attachment will experience full-blown fear of abandonment, studies show that insecure attachments, particularly the anxious attachment style, are related to abandonment anxiety.

How To Overcome Abandonment Issues

Childhood trauma and difficult childhood experiences

Traumatic experiences overwhelm us and lead to the onset of mental health issues, particularly depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Traumatic events in childhood are burdensome on the psyche and can leave a lasting impact on a child until the past is dealt with and resolved.

Neglect, childhood sexual abuse, or other causes of overwhelm (a family death, incarceration of a family member, mental health conditions in a caregiver, and more) without adequate support can establish a deep-rooted fear of abandonment in a child that carries into adulthood.

3. Personality disorders

Personality disorders are mental health conditions that impact our thoughts, behaviors, and relationships in ways that make life especially challenging. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) often feature an intense fear of abandonment.

People with BPD often fear being alone and find it challenging to maintain healthy relationships. Instead, they typically enter unhealthy relationships that amplify or play on one’s fears. 

The difficulty in emotional regulation experienced by people with BPD also makes relationships challenging and often leads to predictions and expectations around rejection and abandonment.

People who experience DPD find it incredibly difficult to be alone. Being alone tends to feel overwhelming, so one seeks out the constant company and assurance of others. Being alone is a challenging experience as we can’t always expect others to be physically there for us. 

This condition can be so consuming that one may need others’ presence and reassurance to function. As such, the condition involves a deep fear of abandonment.

Tips for overcoming abandonment issues

As mentioned earlier, there’s nothing wrong with you if you experience fear of abandonment. Still, you can reduce your suffering and help yourself feel safe with the following: 

1. Identify your attachment styles

Identifying your attachment style, associated beliefs, and behaviors may not eliminate your fear of abandonment overnight. Still, they will at least help you remember that your fear is based on some experience – i.e., you’re not crazy. 

Understanding how childhood experiences have formed our worldview can help us realize that we no longer have to hold onto those beliefs. 

We can acknowledge our attachment style and fear for the purpose they once served – protection – but now, as our adult selves, we lovingly let them go.

2. Self-forgiveness

The first and most important step toward overcoming abandonment issues is forgiving yourself for having them. You’re human, so you usually form attachments that get disrupted.

Experiencing abandonment issues doesn’t make you any less worthy or lovable as a human being. Many of those who struggle with this fear tend to be harsh on themselves, criticizing and judging themselves for having such concerns in the first place. 

Self-forgiveness coupled with self-compassion is key to overcoming abandonment anxiety.

3. Therapy and emotional support

Of course, practicing forgiveness and compassion can be difficult if you already struggle with self-esteem and self-love, as is the case with many of us who fear abandonment. As such, it’s wise to reach out for support. 

Reach out to trusted friends and loved ones you trust enough to share your feelings and whom you believe have the emotional capacity to listen. 

Understand that as vital as it is to open up and talk about our feelings, some people find such vulnerability overwhelming and may struggle to listen. 

You may benefit greatly from speaking to a mental health professional who supports clients with your fears.

How To Overcome Abandonment Issues

4. Self-help

Establishing a support system is essential if abandonment issues are overwhelming you. Still, the best way to overcome this fear is to combine external support with internal support – i.e., self-help. 

Investigating the roots of your abandonment fears and exploring them with compassionate inquiry can lead to profound insights that may change how you approach your fear and your relationships.


Write down your thoughts and feelings about your fear in a journal or log to help you view these experiences objectively. The more you note and observe these experiences, the more clarity you’ll gain around triggers and coping behaviors, which is essential in changing them.

Practice self-validation

Fear of abandonment often leads us to seek validation and assurance from others. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a partner or friend to offer support, but if we struggle to function or feel good without that validation, then we will suffer.

It’s a fact of life that sometimes people will let us down. We have expectations that won’t always be met, and sometimes, we’ll face loneliness and disapproval. 

If we only feel good when validation comes from an external source, we place our mood and sense of self outside ourselves. We can empower ourselves by practicing self-validation.

This will require practice and support, but the work involved far outweighs the cost of not doing it. 

To validate yourself means accepting yourself fully, allowing your humanity without criticism or harsh judgment, and acknowledging your achievements and successes, the big and the small.

How to help someone with abandonment issues

Since issues around abandonment are common, you probably know someone who struggles with abandonment fear. 

As much as you want to help your loved one overcome their fears and heal their wounds, understand that this wound is theirs to heal. You can support them but cannot do the healing work for them. 

The same applies if you struggle with fear of abandonment. Others can help, but the real inner work is something for which you must take responsibility.

Earlier, we explored how abandonment issues, sometimes known as abandonment trauma, can stem from difficult past experiences, especially in childhood. As such, this can be a sensitive issue for the person struggling. 

So, if you want to help this person, it’s important to practice patience. This person may say things that seem manipulative or controlling, but this is usually learned behavior. 

Sometimes we learn to control and manipulate because we felt powerless when we first experienced abandonment or rejection. So, have patience.

However, don’t enable unhealthy, toxic behavior. Even though the person may be struggling and you may feel sorry for them, set boundaries around behavior you deem harmful or upsetting. 

Other people’s defenses and trauma responses are not your responsibility. Let this person know how certain behaviors and things they say make you feel. They may not be entirely aware of their behavior until you point it out.

One way you can help is to lend a compassionate ear and let them open up about their experiences. Only engage in this step if you have the emotional capacity to listen. Don’t listen just to help but end up suffering yourself.

Finally, you may suggest that this person speaks to a therapist or counselor. Sometimes we just need a compassionate ear and a trusted friend to listen. Still, in some cases, fear of abandonment can lead to unhealthy behaviors that require a more professional approach.


You don’t need a mental health diagnosis to struggle with fear of abandonment. This is a pervasive fear, so don’t judge yourself too harshly if this is your experience. 

Still, know that unresolved abandonment issues and separation anxiety can impact your current and future relationships and may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As such, take the initiative and do what you can to heal this wound. 

Reach out for friendly and therapeutic support, be curious about your fears, and practice unconditional self-forgiveness and self-compassion.

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