Learning how to love a woman with abandonment issues can be challenging and confusing at the same time.
However, by practicing some interpersonal skills you can have a healthy relationship with a woman with abandonment issues.
WHAT ARE ABANDONMENT ISSUES?
Abandonment issues are specifically the fear of being abandoned by others, especially loved ones.
A person may be afraid of being abandoned through betrayal, rejection, or even death.
They may also be afraid of being cheated on by their romantic partner.
Most people are afraid of losing the ones they love, which is normal in healthy relationships.
However, abandonment issues take these natural fears to a highly distressing level. This makes sense given how abandonment issues develop.
Abandonment issues are related to both anxious attachment and codependency.
Both anxious attachment, and codependency, often stem from childhood trauma.
Clinical psychologist, Michelle Skeen, explains “Basic safety is a key component for the development of a secure attachment for anyone at any age.
Which is why the fear of abandonment is incredibly powerful. It begins as a life-or-death need. As an infant if you are left – abandoned – you will not survive.”
The woman you love may have experienced a wide range of painful events growing up which made her question others’ reliability in her life.
These traumatic events may have included abuse, neglect, or enmeshment which can look like being a parent’s “best friend” or having to take care of younger siblings.
This trauma prevented her from learning how to be securely attached to another person.
SIGNS OF ABANDONMENT ISSUES
When a woman has abandonment issues, she may act in a wide range of ways that seem confusing and contradictory.
However, the common factor is her fear of abandonment and her insecurities. If your partner has abandonment issues, you may see:
• Self-esteem issues and the need to be reassured that you still love her and find her attractive
• Clinging to you emotionally and sometimes physically
• Anger or the desire to control you if you want to spend time without her such as with friends to watch a game or go to happy hour
• Excessive worrying when you are away such as at work that something bad will happen to you
• Frequent texting and anxiety or anger if you don’t reply fast enough
• Jealousy of others in your life – even people that are no threat to your romantic/intimate connection such as family members
• Depression or suicidal ideation at times if she feels you are not close enough to her
HOW ABANDONMENT ISSUES AFFECT ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS
Being with a woman with abandonment issues can be confusing, upsetting, and exhausting.
You may feel smothered by her clinging and attempts for closeness.
Or you may feel angry at her desire to control you or seek validation from you.
You may also feel hopeless about how you can “fix” this problem for her.
If you are having any of these reactions, please know they are completely natural given her symptoms.
While she may mistakenly interpret these natural reactions as proof you do not love her, this is not true.
It’s human to be overwhelmed by someone else’s anxiety when they make it your responsibility to manage.
Unfortunately, though, these natural reactions to the abandonment fear the woman you love has may contribute to a problematic cycle.
Her attempts to keep you close may naturally push you away. Everyone has the right to space and time away from their loved ones.
When this right and need is violated by their attempts to keep you close, you may naturally want to avoid your partner even more.
When this happens she may cling or attempt to control you, even more, pushing you away further.
This natural desire to pull back from her too may reinforce your partner’s abandonment fears and “prove” she cannot rely on you.
Learning how to break this cycle then is necessary to have a healthy relationship with the woman you love.
HOW TO LOVE A WOMAN WITH ABANDONMENT ISSUES
Ideally, your partner will develop a secure attachment to you in time as long you stay faithful to her.
Clinical psychologist, Sue Johnson, explains the primary question we ask to develop secure attachment is “Can I depend on you?”
To help the woman you love to be able to feel that she can depend on you and thus form a secure bond with you, you may help in the following ways:
#1 Be consistent with your words and actions
If you can say what you mean, and mean what you say, then you support your partner in believing she can rely on you,
The more the woman you love believes you care about her, the more she can trust in your connection.
To help her feel understood and loved, practice active listening and validation skills for her emotions.
This means that when she is scared you only need to provide space to listen to her and let her know how much you care she is scared and stressed.
At these times, you do not need to defend yourself or justify your actions – only listen.
#2 Understand that her abandonment issues are not your fault or responsibility
You can comfort your partner at times but it’s not your job to completely heal her abandonment issues or cope with her emotions.
If you find it hard to detach, you may need to work on recovering from your own codependency.
#3 Give her support in any way you can
While it’s not your job to fix your woman, it’s important to support her and stand by her as she tries to find her way.
Encourage her to seek therapy to resolve the underlying reasons for her fear of abandonment such as childhood trauma.
Sometimes, the woman you love may lack insight as to why she is afraid of being abandoned. She may even say she doesn’t even have trauma.
Clinical psychologist, Sue Johnson, explains that “an attachment figure can be physically present but emotionally absent.”
If this is the case, honor that you are not sure why she has abandonment issues only that she does and a therapist can help her resolve this.
#4 Establish some rules in your relationship
For the sake of your own mental health and emotional well-being, it’s crucial to set boundaries around your partner’s attempts to control you or use you to validate her self-worth.
In a healthy relationship, each person is responsible to learn how to self-soothe rather than seeking constant emotional support from the other person.
You may validate how much you love her but that you need to set boundaries to protect your sanity and not be pushed away.
#5 Set aside ample time to be with her
Your woman will need time to adjust and become an independent person.
It certainly won’t happen overnight so you need to be patient with her and spend quality time with her as she learns to individuate.
If you’re willing, offer to attend couples therapy with her regularly.
You may want to seek help from a therapist who provides Emotionally Focused Therapy as it has a 90 percent rate of significant improvement for couples.
To find a licensed therapist near you, use the Psychology Today Directory to get one who suits your needs.
#6 Practice radical acceptance of her abandonment issues
This means fully accepting the reality that the woman you love has abandonment issues.
If you radically accept she has abandonment issues, you will notice that these issues may never go away, especially because you cannot control her healing journey.
Ask yourself if you can spend your life with someone who has abandonment issues that are not your fault nor can you heal them.
Rather, you can only be dependable and the woman you love may or may not choose to meet you in the middle to heal her attachment style.
Loving a woman with abandonment issues is inherently stressful.
It’s important to remember that while you are not the cause of her abandonment issues you can support her healing.
Of course, you cannot decide if she learns to self-soothe or chooses to seek individual therapy.
Instead, you can practice being a dependable, supportive, and consistent partner so she may form a secure attachment with you.
It’s also important to use healthy relationship skills which include validation and boundary setting.
It’s valuable to show her that she cannot use you or control you out of her abandonment fears and that you won’t reject her just because you feel angry at times.
This is the basis of healthy, secure relationships since all relationships have conflict at times.
With the practice of these skills, consistency, and ideally, outside support from a certified therapist, it is completely possible to have a healthy relationship with the woman you love.
About The Author
Krystal Mazzola Wood
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience.
She sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation and has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes.
Every week, Krystal contributes to her blog, Confidently Authentic, to provide empowering dating, relationship, and mental health advice.