No matter how long you’ve been friends with someone or how committed your partner seems, you can’t shake that fear that eventually everyone will leave. Maybe you’ve never stopped to think about the extreme efforts you make to avoid abandonment. Or perhaps you’ve thought about it so much that your fear plagues you in your sleep.
In reality, many adults fear abandonment, largely in part due to childhood trauma or neglect. Although we may not all worry about loneliness because of the same initial cause, most of us do cope with these fears with similar behaviors or character traits. These are 10 things people don’t realize you’re doing because you fear being abandoned:
1. Communicating more frequently than other people.
It may sound completely irrational to the rest of the world, but the longer things remain silent, the more you worry that someone is leaving you for good. Therefore, if you fear abandonment, you reach out frequently to those who you most care about. The middle-of-the-night memes or mid-afternoon “I love you” text messages may seem random and unnecessary to the recipient, but for you it’s just another way to check on the status of your relationship.
2. Constantly making people laugh.
People like you who fear abandonment often hide behind a goofy, fun-loving personality. After all, they say laughter is the best medicine, and everyone seems to enjoy being around people they find amusing. Seeing others smile warms your heart, but it also gives you a tiny glimmer of hope of a future in their life.
3. Avoiding conflict or disagreements.
We see it all the time both in everyday life and on mainstream media: People who frequently fight end up separating in the end. This is precisely why if you worry about losing loved ones, you have developed very cooperative (and sometimes passive) social skills. You’re willing to merely “go along for the ride,” if that means your friends or lovers won’t kick you to the curb.
4. Asking if things are OK nearly every day.
The best way to avoid abandonment is to make sure that things are always copacetic within those important relationships. Although it may seem a little extreme to the people you keep asking, you find comfort in frequent validation that any important relationships you maintain is continuously thriving. Therefore, you ask for a status report as often as you can (sometimes multiple times each day).
5. Constantly saying “yes” to requests or favors.
A person like you who fears abandonment more than likely feels that people leave when the other person in the relationship no longer finds the connection beneficial. Therefore, you’ve become a people pleaser, in hopes that this will entice others to stick by your side. You often say “yes” without hesitation, and you run yourself ragged just so that you (hopefully) never end up alone.
6. Offering to do things for people or doing things for people without them asking.
When you worry about people leaving, you work hard to make sure that you’re an asset to the people you love most. This means that you often do things that you consider favors or helpful acts in hopes it will win you favor. You try to interpret others’ needs and anticipate them before they ever express them to you directly. This may lead to codependency, but hey, at least that means there’s still someone at the other end?
7. Buying gifts for people just because.
Those of us who truly fear abandonment often find ways to express how much we care. Sometimes this takes the form of small trinkets and random greeting cards. Although the gifts are often genuine and from the heart, sometimes at least part of the motivation comes from a place of fear. You hope that by showing your friends and significant others how thoughtful you often are, they’ll keep you around just a little bit longer.
8. Apologizing constantly, even when an apology isn’t needed.
Nobody enjoys admitting when they’ve done something wrong… unless that apology will seal the deal on everlasting love or forever friendships. People like you who worry about losing loved ones often take on the submissive role. Most of the time, you feel that constant compromise is the path of least resistance. You therefore apologize for everything from a tiny misunderstanding to breathing in someone’s presence, whether that apology is warranted or not.
9. Forgiving people no matter what they did.
Forgiveness is a cornerstone for almost any healthy relationship. When you fear abandonment, though, you are pretty much willing to forgive anything anyone did. Refusing to forgive someone could build resentment later on, and resentment often leads to loss. That’s why forgiveness is one of the most important skills someone who fears losing friends develops early on.
10. Lingering too long when it’s time to say goodbye.
This should seem like a no-brainer, but maybe only for those who know how painful goodbye can really be. When you’re scared of losing someone, you literally never want to let go. So, you find yourself hugging a little longer or finding just one more thing to say. Even if the goodbye is merely temporary, that doesn’t take away the fear and the emotional pain.
Although it’s not a psychologically-recognized phobia, the fear of abandonment is arguably one of the most common fears of all. What’s more, it leads to some bizarre behaviors that we often can’t control. Some people may not believe that you do these ten things out of fear, but in your heart you know it’s true. At the end of the day, it’s OK to feel afraid. Just don’t let the fear of losing loved ones entirely control your world.
Also Published on Thought Catalog