Fears of abandonment can bring out a sad, needy inner child in any adult. When you are in a relationship with a person who is battling abandonment issues, his problems can seem overwhelming and impossible to conquer. Several steps can be taken to heal a relationship and banish your partner's fears.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Be there for your partner. If you have become aware of your loved one's past problems with abandonment, it is often because she felt secure enough to open up to you and reveal her emotional wounds. Nurture your partner and be available to listen. Be a reliable, nonjudgmental source of strength. Sometimes her emotional outbursts can be difficult to handle, but try not to take the things she does out of fear of abandonment, rejection or loss personally.
Help your loved one find the source of his abandonment issues. Often these fears of loss, rejection and physical or emotional abandonment originate in childhood. Divorce, being given up for adoption, placement in the foster care system, emotional abuse, a sibling who was favoured, an unexpected break-up or death can all create feelings of abandonment. Even though it may be difficult, get the person talking about the hurtful events that happened to him and how they made him feel. Help your loved one weed out false beliefs that may have come from these situations, such as blaming himself for a parent's drug use or the death of a favourite grandparent.
Seek professional help. The emotional and mental anguish of a loved one is not for the partner to carry alone. Just because you love this person does not mean you have all the tools to help her on your own. Licensed counsellors and psychiatrists have been trained extensively to help people with abandonment issues. Go to counselling with your partner to rebuild your relationship and learn how to help her. Just as a person would go to a doctor to deal with a chronic condition such as diabetes, a person with deep abandonment issues sometimes needs help from a professional to heal.
Don't let your partner's issues consume your life. If, in a moment of emotional pain, he lashes out verbally or physically, you do not have to be the target. Establish boundaries, and if need be, space. It is important to be there for your partner, but not at the risk of your own mental health and well-being. It is crucial to let your loved one know that his treatment of you is unacceptable and hurtful. He needs to be aware of his behaviour to change it and get better. If you treat yourself with dignity and respect, this will teach your partner to treat himself the same way.
Tips and warnings
- Working through abandonment issues does not happen overnight. Be prepared for setbacks that may be caused by emotional triggers. Seeing the person who caused the abandonment fears -- such as an ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend or parent -- may trigger an emotional regression. Even seeing a sad movie about a death or divorce may cause the wounds to reopen.
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