When You’re Afraid of Abandonment But You Also Choose People That Are Not Likely To Stay
Posted Sep 17 2010 2:39pm
When I was a little girl, I learned to become afraid of being abandoned because unbeknownst to my father, I perceived him and my parents not being together and him not visiting me when I spent a month in hospital as abandonment. When I started having relationships in adulthood, after the initial honeymoon period, I became scared that they were going to leave or assumed, when I experienced conflict with them that they would. Coupled with the fact that underneath my seemingly confident exterior I didn’t really like or love myself all that much, it also meant that I was convinced that they would discover my ‘flaws’ that would give them the reason they needed to abandon me. When I thought they were ‘too into me’, I’d act difficult – it was safer.
As it was, I invariably had relationships with people who offered the least likely prospect of commitment and were likely to bring out those feelings of abandonment in me anyway.
The strange thing: Until I realised that I had a penchant for Mr Unavailables and discovered my own emotional unavailability and contradictory behaviour that was counterproductive to forging a healthy, committed relationship, I didn’t consciously think I had abandonment issues.
I’ve explained in Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl and many times on this blog how we consciously and subconsciously choose people that reflect what we believe about love, relationships, and ourselves. When we have negative beliefs, which are things that we believe to be true (even if they’re not actually true), we act in accordance with those beliefs and end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that ends up confirming the very things that we believe.
When you are afraid of being abandoned, it is about being afraid of letting someone get close enough to you that if they weren’t around, it would hurt. It’s also about the fear of the consequences of conflict because you will be afraid that it (conflict) will result in you realising your fear of abandonment.
Even though you’re afraid of being abandoned and afraid of getting close enough to someone that it will hurt, you will still go out and forge relationships. You will then seek validation which is confirmation that something is true. On one hand you hope to challenge your beliefs and get confirmation that you’re a loveable person worthy of not being abandoned, but on the other hand, you will inadvertently seek confirmation that the beliefs you hold about being abandoned are actually true, otherwise you’d have no legitimate reason to keep believing the negative beliefs.
If you’re afraid of taking the risk, you’ll limit the opportunity to take the risk and rely on the ‘safe bet’.
By creating limited relationships with people that have a limited capacity, by that same token you limit the experience and in turn limit the pain that you’re trying to avoid or at best keep to a minimum.
It’s like ‘limited hurt’ – you’re not ‘stretching yourself and taking a risk and are instead opting for the ‘safe bet’. For instance, even though I ended up in a hell of a lot of pain, when I was the ‘Other Woman’ it still seemed ‘safer’ to take a punt on the fantasy of us being together but at the same time deep down knowing that it was futile and that it would never be, so not fully risking myself like I would have to with someone who was actually available. In fact, the ‘safe bet’ becomes ‘safe rejection’ as you expect it anyway!
Theself-fulfilling prophecyis about predicting what you believe is likely to happen. If at the heart of it you have negative beliefs, you’ll predict in line with those beliefs and act in line with them so that what you predict becomes a reality.
This means that you are prepared for the eventual pain and loss that will no doubt ensue by choosing partners that tick the boxes for your beliefs and relationship pattern.
When you ‘act up’ or keep questioning whether they’re going to leave, it’s like sabotaging your relationship to bring about the prophecy of doom – they eventually end up leaving unless they’re extremely patient and you recognise this and embrace them and deal with your own issues.
When you believe what you believe, especially the more hidden beliefs working overtime underneath, you’d be amazed at what you will do to keep believing – it’s familiar and comfortable pain.
The pain I was in was very painful but because it was working with my beliefs, it was oddly familiar and comfortable, albeit the uncomfortable comfortable.
If you have a limited relationship with someone, especially any relationship that has a lot of illusions in it, they can’t ‘leave leave’ because there isn’t a real relationship to leave and there’s no real commitment. A lot of the pain that ensues is actually about how when they leave (or we feel like they are or are going to) that any illusions that we had about them have to leave and we resist stepping into reality.
If you are limited in your capacity to love and choosing limited experiences and limited people to make a limited contribution with, you’re never getting that close that it will hurt to the fullest extent of your fears because you never really believed they were going to stay anyway. If you never really believed someone would stay or that you could hold onto them, you wouldn’t give yourself to the fullest anyway even if you convinced yourself you were.
Unless you address your fear of abandonment, you will either live in fear that they’re going to leave killing the relationship with insecurity anyway, choose people that are likely to leave and end up acting in sync with the drama with it ending in them leaving, or sabotage relationships that don’t look like they’re going to meet your prophecy.
Food for thought. Are you afraid of being abandoned? Have you chosen partners that offer the least likely prospect for commitment as a ‘safe bet’? Your thoughts?