5 Helpful Tips for Dating Someone With Abandonment Issues
Our past experiences can have a profound impact on our current emotional and psychological state. If you’ve ever suffered from rejection or abandonment, you may notice that you feel anxious or fearful of finding yourself in the same situation again. Once you experience the pain of abandonment, it can become difficult to trust others.
Many people face this challenge in their romantic relationships. Not only do abandonment issues affect the person struggling with them, but they also can affect their partner. If your romantic partner has abandonment issues, they might suddenly act distant without explanation. You may notice that they pull away emotionally as soon as you start feeling close, and you may be confused by the mixed messages they’re sending.
Everyone wants to be close to someone, but abandonment issues make it difficult to truly open up and be vulnerable with a partner. People with abandonment issues are in constant conflict between wanting to be with their partner and feeling scared to get too close.
Navigating this can be incredibly challenging, but it’s important to understand that your partner isn’t trying to play games with you or make you feel confused. They’re working through abandonment issues that may have developed during childhood or during a previous romantic relationship, and your support may be instrumental in their growth. By being patient and compassionate, you can foster a healthy relationship with your partner and help them overcome their abandonment issues.
Here Are Five Tips for Handling Abandonment Issues in Relationships
1. Don’t take it personally.
If your partner starts acting distant or anxious, it’s natural to worry that you’ve done something wrong. When it comes to abandonment issues, though, this behavior is rarely the fault of the partner. Even if they lash out at you or blame you for something, understand that abandonment issues can cause a severe sensitivity to rejection. The smallest and most innocent comment or gesture could make your partner worry that you’ll leave them, but it’s not really about you or your actions.
By learning not to take these situations personally, you can avoid a great deal of heartache. You cannot blame yourself for your partner’s abandonment issues. Instead of feeling attacked or confronted, try to face the issue as a team.
2. Communicate all the time.
Open and honest communication is key in any relationship, but it’s especially important if you’re dating someone with abandonment issues. When your partner has abandonment issues, they might have a hard time trusting that you won’t leave them. They may fixate on small comments or actions until they become convinced that you want to end the relationship, which can lead to them sabotaging the relationship before you hurt them first.
Constant communication is the best way to break out of these negative thinking habits. Your partner may need regular reassurance to know that you love them and want to be with them. Tell them everything you like and love about them, and be clear and direct in your communication.
This is just as important during difficult moments as it is during the good moments. You might be tempted to make subtle comments to hint toward an issue you have instead of facing it head-on, but this can be detrimental to your relationship when your partner has abandonment issues. If your partner starts to feel like they have to read between the lines to get your message, they’ll constantly look for signs that you’re planning to leave.
When something upsets or frustrates you, use “I feel” statements to work through it with your partner. By focusing on the way you feel instead of blaming your partner for something, the two of you can work through the issue without anyone feeling attacked. By putting everything out in the open, you and your partner can remove much of the insecurity that comes along with abandonment issues.
Encourage your partner to communicate, too. People with abandonment issues may feel scared to bring up their concerns or their frustrations because they don’t want to upset their partners. Healthy communication in a relationship goes both ways, though. Make sure your partner knows that you are ready to listen to anything they have to express.
3. Speak their love language.
Understanding your partner’s love language can help to strengthen any relationship. When your partner has abandonment issues, speaking their love language can be incredibly reassuring for them. Not everyone expresses love and receives love the same way, so learning about what makes your partner feel loved can help them to feel more secure.
Dr. Gary Chapman identifies these five love languages:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Physical touch
- Acts of service
Your partner’s love language may not be the same as yours, so it might not cross your mind to express love in terms of their love language. Your natural tendency might be to show your love by giving thoughtful gifts, but your partner feels the most loved when they get to spend quality time with you. By learning to speak their love language, you’ll help your partner feel as loved and secure as possible in the relationship.
4. Discourage negative self-talk.
Low self-esteem and abandonment issues often go hand-in-hand. Your partner may feel down about themselves and make frequent self-deprecating comments. They may question why you want to be with them or make statements like, “I know you don’t really like me.”
It can be difficult to respond when your partner makes comments like this. They’re seeking reassurance because their abandonment issues have convinced them that everyone will leave them. When you engage with these comments, though, you’re feeding into the cycle of negative self-talk. Instead of responding to the self-deprecating statements, encourage them to talk about how they’re truly feeling and why.
5. Help, but don’t fix.
Healthy relationships empower both partners to become better people. However, your job is never to fix your partner. You can offer support and show them love, but ultimately, everyone is in charge of their own lives. While you can walk beside your partner and help them as they heal their abandonment issues, you cannot fix them or cure them on your own.
Therapy for Abandonment Issues
Abandonment issues are not easy to work through. A supportive partner can be immensely helpful on the road to healing, but even the healthiest and happiest relationship may not be enough for someone to truly overcome their abandonment issues for good. If your partner is struggling to navigate the relationship because of their fear of abandonment, therapy may be the best course of action.
In therapy, your partner can address the root cause of the abandonment issues, which can lead to a newfound sense of peace and clarity. They’ll work through the negative self-talk that perpetuates the fear, too, and they’ll discover healthy ways to cope with anxiety. Sometimes, couples counseling is valuable for dealing with abandonment issues. Therapy offers a structured and safe environment for you and your partner to communicate and learn how to tackle the problem together.
Menachem Psychotherapy Group offers therapy for abandonment issues as well as many other mental health concerns. You can reach out to us today to learn more about our services or to connect with a licensed counselor.