sad adult man sitting alone on wooden bench Thinking about life. Abandonment Anxiety

Abandonment Anxiety – by Jiaqi Zhao

Recalling your current or past relationships, do you need to control or be controlled by your partner? Do you feel anxious and stressed in a relationship and need frequent praise and reassurance? 

Do you tend to feel insecure without knowing why and thus stay hyper-vigilant? If the above sounds familiar, you may be bothered by abandonment anxiety. In this article, we will unwrap why you may feel what you are feeling and the first step (and an important one) to overcome it.

The need to control or be controlled in the relationship

This may be associated with the environment we grow up in or the interaction we engage with people later in life. Children growing up in chaotic households may have learned that to be safe, they must ensure everything is perfect.

This pattern may persist in their relationships later on. Alternatively, other children may have learned that they are not entitled to their own needs and wants but to do exactly what the caregiver told them to do. Similarly, in intimate relationships, they may feel seen and loved if their partner controls them.

The need for constant praise and reassurance

Having insecure attachment is frequently associated with past experiences of abandonment and lower self-esteem. People with abandonment issues may constantly think they are not good enough or unlovable.

In addition, because of low self-esteem, they tend to rely on others to provide constant validation through praise.

The feeling of insecurity and hyper-vigilance for no obvious reasons

Insecurities may arise from traumatic experiences growing up. However, traumatic memories from years ago are often stored in our bodies as feelings rather than the concrete recalling of events.

As years pass by, we no longer have words or visual memories to help us understand what has happened. When similar scenes pop up, we could be triggered by these subtle cues and have an unpleasant and insecure feeling that we couldn’t trace the origins of.

When people with abandonment anxiety issues are triggered, they do not feel safe, thus staying hyper-vigilant. They may have learned the signs before people abandon them. When triggered, therefore, constantly look for microscopic cues in the relationship or the other person for these signs.

However, these abandonment anxiety signs often may be due to reasons other than their readiness to leave the relationships. For example, a person may feel that their partner is leaving them because they seem colder that day, while this attitude was caused by factors outside the relationship, such as having a long and tiring day.

Abandonment anxiety issues may happen due to an insecure attachment developed in the early years or after a series of bad relationships in adulthood. We must first create a secure attachment within ourselves to resolve abandonment anxiety issues. Often we may need to treat ourselves better. Let’s check in with ourselves, acknowledge how we feel, validate ourselves, and respond to our needs and wants.

About OCP

Ontario Counselling and Psychotherapy is a group of psychotherapists and social workers in Ottawa, Cornwall, Toronto (and soon other cities in Ontario) who offer expertise in a variety of mental health areas and believe in an integrated approach to counselling. We work with you and pride ourselves in creating a strong relationship with our clients by ensuring that we are a good fit to help you attain your therapy goals. We offer individual, couple, family and child psychotherapy to clients all over Ontario.

We invite you to explore our site and contact the therapist of your choice to help with abandonment anxiety. You will find our contact information under “Our therapists” tab. If you are unsure, call the centre at (613) 699-0060 or email at, and we will answer any questions you may have, direct you to a therapist, and, if you wish, set you up with one of our therapists.