5 Signs That You Fear Abandonment

Keen Category: Love Advice

Perplexed woman with her boyfriend walking out the door in the background, signaling the end of the relationship

For most women, abandonment is perceived as the most emotionally leveling betrayal. Without trust that her guy will remain faithful to his commitment, a woman is apt to worry endlessly that he will drift away or even worse, find someone else she imagines will fulfill him more. The lyrics from the popular song by Sheryl Crow, Strong Enough, typify a woman's desperation: "Lie to me. I promise to believe. Lie to me. But please don't leave."

Why Do Women Fear Abandonment More Than Anything Else?

The theme of abandonment is deeply embedded in the subconscious. In fact, a Greek myth from the Hellenistic era may hold part of the answer as to why the fear of abandonment so ingrained in the subconscious of women. The myth of Ariadne and Theseus is a love story gone sour. Ariadne, a Cretan goddess, falls in love with a solar hero named Theseus. He sails from Athens to Crete and accepts the quest to slay the Minotaur at the center of the infamous labyrinth where every three years a group of maidens, children, and effeminate youth are sacrificed to this half human half bull creature as a way to appease the gods. Ariadne gives him a magical thread to guide him through the labyrinth. With it, he succeeds in slaying the beast and returns to Ariadne's arms victorious. They marry and set sail together back from Knossos to Athens. On the way, they stop on the island of Naxos for a respite. Call it a honeymoon. Ariadne falls asleep on the beach sunbathing and when she awakens Theseus is nowhere to be found. He had set sail without her, deserting her on the island where she is left to lament.

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Theseus obviously had second thoughts, deciding that questing for new adventures was more attractive than settling down with a divine goddess. He stereotypically represents a self-serving man with an immature masculine ego who discards his feminine complement because he can't yet value a woman's wisdom and worth at his side. As the woman left behind, Ariadne signifies feminine wisdom holding out her heart strings to guide her masculine counterpart to slay the darker parts of his personality and who is left disappointed when she is not regarded with honor. For women, this archetypal theme runs deep in her subconscious fueling feelings of worthlessness. Like other archetypal themes that are a part of the human condition, its pull is difficult escape. No matter how much she gives, how many threads of wisdom she offers as insights into her man's psychology, how much she proves her worth to her man day after day, she believes he will never see her true value. She feels this way because for centuries, a woman's value has been diminished and the imprint of the degradation on her soul is a scar that just won't heal. Her mother felt this way, as did her grandmother and great grandmother. It is a legacy from which there seems no escape.

From the vantage point of this collective wound, a woman is always on guard wondering what her man was up to when he comes home late, doesn't answer a text for over an hour, or shows up with little to say to her. She perceives his emotional distancing as a sign he is making plans to move on and no amount of convincing will make her feel secure. Her insecurities defeat her. Rather than living the most fulfilling life she can, one with experiences that validate a her worth, she clings to her man expecting him to be her all.

A woman's diminished worth and the resulting fear of abandonment can cause her to display a variety of destructive behaviors. Here are five behaviors common to women who fear abandonment:

  1. Fantasizing Doomsday Abandonment Scenarios

    In those quiet moments when there's little else to think about, it is not uncommon for a woman's phobic tendencies to rear their ugly heads as daydreams of tragic endings. She might imagine receiving a call that her mate has died, run off with someone else, or left a "Dear Jane letter" stating his intention to leave town without saying good-bye. These destructive daydreams represent buried fears and secret wishes erupting as habitual conscious thoughts and can be difficult to control. The fear is, of course, that she will be discarded and alone and the wish functions to perpetuate a deep sadness that she has deeply identified with. In this case, a woman must battle the stronghold of negative thoughts by feeding her subconscious more positive ones. She may have to identify each fear and counter it with a positive affirmation such as, "You are irreplaceable and your partner knows your value to him."

  2. Giving Her Man Too Much of Everything He Wants

    A woman who lacks the confidence that she is central in her mate's life, may think she must be near perfect to keep him around. She is likely to go overboard catering to his every need or whim, spoiling him even when he doesn't deserve spoiling. With this behavior she is will lose his respect rather than to gain it. A woman like this needs to step back and notice how much she deserves beyond the relationship. If she starts pampering herself with as much attention as she gives him she will be perceived as a more desirable mate.

  3. Seeing Another Woman as a Threat

    The fear of being replaced may lead a woman to believe that every other woman in her man's life, even if only an acquaintance, is a threat. She will become suspicious, try to divert attention to herself and respond rudely to a woman whom she might otherwise like to be friends with. In this case, a woman will have to stop comparing herself to other women and see herself as her mate's natural choice.

  4. Unreasonable Demands on His Time

    Women who are afraid that space and time away means her man is trying to escape, usually exhibit demanding and controlling behavior. Calling to check on him every hour on the hour, texting nonsensical messages while he is at work, and intruding on his leisure time with "to do lists" are all signs that she wants to stay engaged and maintain control. Her separation anxiety is likely rooted in her fear of being alone and she may need to dive deeply into the source of this anxiety to gain control of her own behavior.

  5. Pulling Away and Pushing Him Away

    Some women, especially those who felt abandoned by their fathers in childhood may find it difficult to trust the bond of a love relationship and will pull away emotionally as a protective response. It is difficult for them to enjoy their lover for fear of losing him. Other women will do everything in their power to push their mate out the door with negative behavior, sabotaging the relationship and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of abandonment. If they succeed, it confirms they were right – a man's commitment means nothing. A woman who will pull or push away, needs to develop insight into her own psychology and sabotaging behavior. Her efforts at giving love over time will prove that love is worth the effort.

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