You’re in a relationship with someone who isn’t good for you, yet you can’t leave. Overcoming your fear of abandonment is the first step to breaking free from destructive relationships.
In Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment and Building Lasting, Loving Relationships, Michelle Skeen describes the roots of fear of abandonment and how fear can lead us to sabotage our relationships. She offers a way to walk through deep-seated fears of abandonment and learn how to build, maintain, and enjoy lasting, loving, healthy relationships.
“Many of us have a fear of abandonment,” says Melody Beattie, author of The Language of Letting Go. “Some of us let it rule our lives. We’ll do anything just so that person doesn’t walk out and leave us alone.” The thought that set her free from fear of abandonment was: If you don’t want to be my friend, or my lover, or my employer, I don’t want you in my life.
Are you staying with someone who isn’t good for you? If you’re ignoring the signs of a bad relationship, you may need to think about how to overcome your fear of being abandonment. The way I see it, there are two main ways to overcome fear abandonment in relationships: 1) be abandoned; and 2) find a Source of love, peace, connection, and joy outside of your relationships and outside yourself.
Overcoming Your Fear of Being Abandoned
Experience abandonment. My fear of abandonment became reality when my sister cut me out of her life. I grew up without a father. My mother struggles with a mental illness (schizophrenia), and I was in and out of foster homes throughout my childhood. A few years ago, my sister abandoned me. She said she didn’t want me in her life anymore. Why? She couldn’t or wouldn’t give me a reason, but I believe it has to do with her fear of abandonment. I went to Africa to live and teach for three years, and that was when she started to pull away emotionally. Eventually, her emotional distance turned into the harsh words of rejection.
Know that you are strong enough to survive abandonment. We fear what we do not know – the unknown. Sometimes we fear what we know, such as the pain of letting go of someone we love. One of the best tips on overcoming fear of abandonment in relationships is not only experiencing rejection, but realizing we are strong enough to survive.
Dig into the roots of your fear of abandonment. A couple weekends ago, my friend and I drove to Saskatchewan to visit my schizophrenic mother in a group home. I didn’t want my friend to come with me, because I was ashamed of my mom and worried about what my friend would think. My husband hasn’t even met my mother, and we’ve been married nine years. The root of my shame is fear of abandonment. I was scared that if my friends or husband met my mom, they’d think less of me and maybe even leave me.
Find a Source of love, hope, and peace. I gave it all – my shame, reluctance to introduce my friend to my mom, my fear of abandonment – to God. I just let it go. I dropped my anxieties, fears, and worries about what people think of me. I overcame my fear of abandonment in relationships by turning to the most important relationship in my life: God.
Adopt a new way of thinking even if you aren’t spiritual. Are you doing and saying things so your partner doesn’t leave? If you believe a breakup or divorce will crush you – if you don’t know how to overcome fear of abandonment in relationships – listen to Melody Beattie: “If that person doesn’t want to be in your life, just let him or her leave. Do you want someone in your life who really doesn’t want to be with you? Of course not. Let him or her go.”
My prayer for us as we seek to overcome our fear of abandonment is that we turn to God. The only being who can love us fully, completely, unfailingly, and wholly is our Creator. He fills our emptiness, our longing for love and connection. He makes us healthy and strong, so we are able to choose good partners and build strong relationships. When we need to work on overcoming fear of abandonment in relationships, He walks alongside us and shows us we’re not alone. We are strongest when we are connected to God, and weakest when we rely on humans to fulfill us. May we turn our hearts and souls to the only one who has the power to love us fully and completely, who will never abandon nor forsake us: God. Amen.
For a few practical tips on overcoming fear of abandonment in relationships, read How to Be Happy Single. And I welcome your thoughts below! Big and little, good and bad, strong and weak. xo