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Breaking Up with Someone with Abandonment Issues

There is no person on earth that does not have some issue from their childhood.

The difference is how heavy the issue is and how much it affects your life in the present.

We would all benefit from psychotherapy, but not all of us necessarily need it to overcome these issues.

The luckiest among us outgrow these challenges spontaneously throughout life.

But, when someone has abandonment issues, it will be very hard, if not impossible, to overcome those without professional help. 

Therefore, if you are in a relationship with a person with abandonment issues and wish to break up, although you are not responsible for the other person’s reactions, it is wise to understand how these issues affect the other person’s behavior and how to avoid unnecessary complications. 

Sad pensive young girl thinking of relationships problems sitting on sofa

Challenges Related to Abandonment Issues 

A lot of people experienced some kind of abandonment as children.

Divorce, death, a parent leaving, travel, employment, war, addiction, abuse, adoption, etc., are just a few scenarios that may lead to a person suffering from abandonment issues.

When a relationship ends, it’s common for those who have had an early abandonment experience to find it extremely difficult to cope.

To survive and move on after a loss when we are young, we frequently repress our pain, anger, and sadness, but the repressed feelings never really go away and are easily triggered by any kind of painful experience in the present. 

A person with abandonment issues usually behaves completely normal as long as the relationship is not challenging in any way.

But, the thing is, these people tend to exaggerate any sign that may point to the other person thinking of leaving them, and that’s when the drama starts. 

How People With Abandonment Issues React to Breakup?

Teenager couple breaking up

Not every person with abandonment issues will act in the same way.

Their reactions will differ depending on their personality type and the severity of their abandonment issues.

The more severe the issues are, the more dramatic their reactions will be. 

Some typical reactions to breaking up of people facing abandonment issues include:

  • Desperate attempts to preserve the relationship even when it is obviously unhealthy for both partners
  • Threats of hurting oneself or the partner if he leaves, self-destructive behavior used as a means to blackmail the other person – “look what you do to me,” “look what will happen to me if you leave me.” 
  • Overly pleasing behavior “I’ll do anything you want – don’t leave me.”
  • Controlling behavior that continues even after the breakup  

The partner who wants to leave the person with abandonment issues is often unaware that the other person is so challenged until they bring the breakup issue to the table.

That’s exactly the reason why they often fall for the other person’s tactics and delay the breakup. 

What You Can Do to Prevent the Complications of Breaking Up?

Young couple sitting apart indoors after quarrel

The other person in the relationship often feels responsible for the partner’s well-being with abandonment issues.

If that’s the case with you, you must understand that you are in no way responsible for how the other person feels, behaves, or reacts.

We, the adults, have to be capable of taking responsibility for handling our feelings. There are no relationships or scenarios where it is ok to expect other people to take care of us in that sense.

This unrealistic expectation is the direct consequence of the abandonment trauma, but unless you are a mental health professional and the other person is your client, there’s no way you can even take the slightest part of the responsibility for the well-being of the other person. 

Suppose your partner is prone to dramatic reactions, and you are afraid they may really try to hurt themselves. In that case, you can take some preventive measures to minimize this possibility.

If you find it acceptable, you may offer friendship to the other person and the possibility to stay in their life but in a different role.

This may be very tricky and requires strong boundaries and a lot of maturity from your side. 

Another thing you can do is inform your partner’s closest friend or family member about the breakup, share your fears with them, and ask them to pay special attention to your ex-partner during this time.

Again, this is only up to your goodwill. You are in no way responsible for the well-being of the other person. 

If you need a clean cut, you have the right to act accordingly. Your partner is not your child. Therefore you are not responsible for taking care of them.

You are responsible for your own behavior and your own reactions. If the partner has abandonment issues, they should seek professional help.

Breakups are never easy, and the partner leaving is often in need of support too. When the other person is so needy, we easily neglect our own needs. 

Suppose you are afraid your partner may really hurt you. In that case, you must inform the adequate institutions about your worries.

It would be wise to also consult a lawyer in this case, as they know precisely which steps you need to take to protect yourself. 

People with severe abandonment issues may often become severely depressed after the breakup.

Side view young woman looking away at window sitting on couch at home

Don’t blame yourself for that or anything the person feels or does after the breakup.

You have to understand that if a person has unresolved abandonment issues, it is literally only a question of time when these issues will come up.

The trigger can be any kind of close relationship or even a work-related problem, or similar significant events in a person’s life. 

Wrapping It All Up 

Although the process of getting over a recent breakup might feel and appear unpleasant, it is a great opportunity for spiritual and personal growth.

We develop into mature people capable of giving and receiving love and ready for enduring partnerships when we face our issues, heal our wounds and let go of guilt.