Fear of Abandonment and Its Long Term Effects

Fear of abandonment can often be traced back to a loss experienced during childhood. It may be through a traumatic event like losing a parent, whether through divorce or death. The fear is not limited to loss alone. It may stem from deprivation of emotional and/or physical care. These events that happen to someone while they are young may be the catalyst for abandonment fear in people.

How does Abandonment work?

Physical as well as emotional care are catalysts for development in humans. Failure to meet these needs may result in a person feeling abandoned. The feeling of not having your needs met may end up being a harrowing life event. Losses, like that of a caregiver or parent, may end up being a traumatic event for a child. Poverty and abuse are situations which may additionally be the cause of trauma to a child because they make the child feel threatened and unsafe.


The fear of abandonment is not always chronic. However, if it is critical and recurrent, then it should be a point of concern. Persistent fear of abandonment will impact an individual’s ability to maintain and develop, and in this case, it is advisable that you seek help from a professional therapist or counselor.

Emotional abandonment

Continued emotional abandonment or neglect may be damaging to the child. Emotional neglect can be classified as one form of abandonment.When do parents emotionally abandon their children, what do they do that leads to the feeling of emotional abandonment?

  • They were not letting a child express their emotions.
  • Continuously ridiculing children
  • Expecting too much from children
  • Being selfish; Relying on your child for your sense of worth
  • Treating your child as your peer.

Some parents abandon their children emotionally because they were also abandoned as children. However, there are emotionally abandoned children who become better parents because they realized this pattern and changed the script when dealing with their children. The effects of emotional abandonment may, at times, also affect relationships.

Emotional abandonment sometime comes about when someone feels stressed or overwhelmed. It is almost impossible for someone to meet other’s needs when their personal needs are not met. This is why it is important to practice self-care. This way, the individual will find it easy to meet the needs of his/her child or partner seamlessly.

Abandonment in Relationships

The feeling of neglect does not necessarily have to stem from childhood experiences. It is also possible to start feeling abandoned as an adult. The feeling may emanate from events like the loss of an intimate partner, whether through death, separation, or divorce. The effects of this can be extensive. Your relationships, whether social, professional, or intimate, can suffer the most.  

A healthy relationship may be the casualty of fear of abandonment from one or both partners. You may doubt the fidelity of your partner. This anxiety may be as a result of an affair you had, or it may be due to a loss you experienced, or you may have an anxiety problem. Fear of abandonment may lead to one partner working hard to prevent his/her partner from leaving them. They may end up putting in the extra effort and work into the relationship, and after that worry, their partner does not reciprocate or even appreciate their efforts.

What are the indications of abandonment affecting a relationship?

  • A partner is more bent on pleasing others or “gives too much.”
  • Envy of others’ relationships
  • Trust issues
  • A partner feels insecure about the other
  • Lack of emotional intimacy
  • One partner urge to control the other
  • Settling in a relationship that is less than satisfactory

Some adults who were abandoned as children may look for partners who treat them as they were treated as children. Making it difficult for one to get out of the cycle.

Fear of Abandonment in Children

Children also display fear of being abandoned by their parents. Naturally, children are attached to their parents; therefore, it is natural for them to experience such a feeling. Toddlers sometimes get anxious when they are dropped from school or daycare or when their parents are leaving for a short trip. These worries may not impact the child in the long run. This is only possible if they have a secure caregiver attachment. Such an attachment should go a long way n helping the child acquire social skills and help them maintain healthy relationships in the future

What are the indications of the feeling of abandonment in a child?

  • When the child is clingy or displays separation anxiety
  • constant panicking
  • The child is afraid of being alone
  • When stress causes the child to get ill more often
  • When the child has problems concentrating.

If you notice these signs in a child, do not panic. There are ways to address the fear of abandonment early and ensure the child forms a secure attachment with the parent or caregiver. First, you can reassure the child of the love you have towards them and reiterate their significance in your life. Alternatively, furnish the child with your’ plan’ on any given day. This may help reassure the child of your presence because they know what to expect. The child may start feeling more secure even in instances when the parent or caregiver is absent.

There is a condition called “abandoned child syndrome.” A child may experience this after losing a caregiver or parent. Alternatively, it may be as a result of emotional or physical abandonment by a parent.

Does the child isolate him/herself, have low self-esteem, or have unhealthy coping mechanisms like addiction or eating disorders? If so, then this may be an indication of “abandoned child syndrome.” Ensure you address these symptoms early to ensure your child grows up to lead a healthy life and form and maintain relationships.

Long-Term Effects of Abandonment Issues

The mental health of a person may be affected after experiencing abandonment. Recurring fear of abandonment affects the mental state of the person. Mood swings or anger are some of the issues an abandoned child may battle within the future, and in turn, the person loses the chance to maintain intimate relationships and friendships. The self-esteem of the child may also be negatively affected when there is little or no parental support.

Abandonment fears lead one to lose trust in others. They impede a person’s ability to maintain intimacy or have a sense of self-worth. It may result in a person having some issues, including feeling depressed, having anxiety issues, or becoming codependent. Borderline Personality (BPD) and attachment anxiety are also some of the effects of abandonment issues. It is not uncommon to find someone with low self-esteem emanating from childhood abandonment, getting into relationships that reinforce their beliefs.



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