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Dating Advice #63 - Fear of Abandonment
Dating Advice 63

Dating Advice #63 - Fear of Abandonment

He's afraid that she'll stop dating him. What's the psychology behind this fear -- and how can he fix it?


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I like the woman I am dating so much that I fear she will leave me. What is your answer, please?


Dear Larry,

Well, you didn't give us too many details to work with!

Most people who are in a good courtship are not preoccupied with a fear that the other person will leave them. However, fearing abandonment doesn't mean that there is something seriously wrong with you. In all likelihood, you experienced a loss early in life and have not yet moved beyond the emotions that resulted from the loss.

For example, we find that a number of men and women who lose a parent when they are young, are afraid that someone else they love will die or leave them. Adults whose parents divorced when they were children may have similar fears. We cannot say why some people who experienced these unfortunate circumstances enjoy adult relationships without fearing abandonment, and why others are preoccupied with worry. We do know that in the vast majority of cases, however, therapy can help the fearful person overcome this difficulty.

Sometimes, an upsetting event in the more recent past may cause a person to be overly anxious. For example, if you recently experienced a loss or another traumatic event, you may be overly concerned about your current courtship. If this has happened to you, you have probably not fully mourned your recent loss. The grieving process is universal; people have to move through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance before they can move forward emotionally. We suggest that you read a book on the grieving process and perform the exercises. If you are still having trouble, you may need to consult with a professional therapist.

It is very important for someone who fears abandonment to deal with the problem, so that he/she can enjoy a healthy social life. When one of the partners in a relationship is plagued by a fear of abandonment, the relationship cannot achieve its potential. That's because the person who is afraid cannot give his/her partner the trust that is critical to a healthy relationship.

For example, if a man is afraid that his wife may leave him, he may bend over backwards to please her. This prevents the two of them from learning the crucial art of negotiation and compromise. And at the same time the man gradually looses his individuality.

Or, the man might try to hold on to his wife too tightly, by monitoring her phone calls, following her, and becoming jealous of her friendships with others. She, in turn, may feel so threatened by his paranoia, or so upset at his lack of trust, that she does exactly what he fears -- and leaves him! Occasionally, a person who fears abandonment will go to a perverse extreme of trying to control his spouse's actions and thoughts through intimidation, threats or violence.

You deserve credit for understanding enough about yourself to recognize that you are afraid of abandonment. Many people who are much older and wiser than you destroy one potential relationship after another without understanding how this fear has prevented them from having a healthy, stable marriage.

It will take time and effort for you to understand the root of your fear and to learn how to move beyond it. We hope that you have the courage to take the next step of working to eliminate that fear -- and toward a rewarding marriage.

Rosie & Sherry

December 28, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 3

(3) Lucy, August 2, 2011 8:18 PM

Is having a relationship possible with a partner who has a fear of abandonment?

I have been dating my bf for 3 yrs off and on. I just moved in for 3 months and things have been way to rocky so i moved out. He has a history of compulsive dating, he has a temper, he's controlling, and he has physically abused me in the past. I have tried to figure him out and finally came to a conclusion that he has a fear of abondonment. Now i can see why he acts the way he does. It opened my eyes and if i knew then what i know now i'd probably be a little more sensitive to his needs. He has even openlly admitted that he has a "slight" fear of abandonment but he has all the symptoms of this disease. His relationships in the past would run it's course, he cheated on his ex gf's, and was also abusive physically, mentally, and emotionally to them as well. I know he has not been the best for me, but i love him and feel that if we can fix this problem, we can fix us b/c even after all the pain we do have a lot of love for one another. It may seem toxic and i know it is at times but when things are great they are great, tne when they are bad they're really bad. But majority of the bad had something to do with alchohol which we can change that. But i feel that if we have a better understanding of one another, maybe i can help him? I hope this gives you enough information to tell me somethin... one last thing that really pushed me away is his controlling behavior whick is part of his fear of abadonment. I have moved out but would like him to get help if he wants to persue us being together. My friends tell me that he' s no good for me and sometimes i feel in danger but now i understand him. From the looks of things, is this relationship worth saving or is it better to end it? Please help bc i'm lost.

(2) Teresa Evans, December 17, 2002 12:00 AM

I had reasons, through personal issues with my ex partner who depicted signs of Narcassist behaviour, to start questioning my own belief system. I have found that my disorder and the reason I bring forth people who I know are going to reject me is my total fear of abandment.
I have read, spoken to close friends and fortunately for me, I have recognized this condition and whilst I do not profess that I have healed, I shall have a jolly good bash at it. It is fear based and I will try to ensure that every time I have a fearfull thought, I will turn this thought into a positive and remember that I will never abandon me and I love and approve of myself just the way I was born, and try to forget the hurts I had alond the way.

Thankyou Rosie & Sherry for creating this sight and any other people out there who have helped me on my way.

(1) Reizl, June 6, 2001 12:00 AM

Very perceptive.

Rosie & Sherry are two very perceptive
Hard as it is to read between the lines
they have a talent for doing so.

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