It might take you a while to realise that a friend or romantic partner has abandonment issues. This problem is usually deep-seated, probably going back to childhood. Someone with abandonment issues may be clingy, possessive and jealous. He might go to great lengths to avoid commitment as a self-protective measure. The way a person with abandonment issues thinks is often irrational, according to the Out of the Fog website, and that can't be changed by rational argument. Neither you nor the other person can rewrite history, but there are some steps you can take to support this person.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Be completely honest with the other person and yourself. Be quite sure that you are not giving the person reason to be jealous and paranoid, or that you are not exploiting his need for you. However, if you are being accused unfairly, stand your ground as long as you are not jeopardising your safety. Do not break off contact with your family and friends in a vain attempt to convince the other person that you only need him.
Listen to the person and encourage him to be open. If he was abandoned as a child, he may find it painful to talk about, but avoiding the issue may be compounding the problem. If his abandonment issues are deep-seated, though, it is unlikely that just talking about it will change his behaviour. He is likely to need professional help.
Encourage the person to recognise that his behaviour is destructive and can actually cause the very thing he fears most. Gently help him to recognise that he probably needs counselling to change his responses. Also be aware that beliefs and learnt responses are notoriously difficult to change, especially without professional help.
Tips and warnings
- Avoid colluding someone with abandonment issues. This is quite easy to do in this situation. Do not repeatedly reassure him, especially if this seems to make no difference in his beliefs or behaviour.
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