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  • Sam DiFranco


Abandonment fear often stems from childhood loss. This loss could be related to a traumatic event, such as the loss of a parent through death or divorce. It can also come from not getting enough physical or emotional care. These early childhood experiences can lead to a fear of being abandoned by others later in life.


Healthy human development requires needs for physical and emotional care to be met. Unmet needs can result in feelings of abandonment. Experiencing abandonment can become a traumatic life event. The death of a parent can be a traumatic event for a child. Feeling unsafe due to a threatening situation like abuse or poverty can also cause trauma. 

Some degree of abandonment fear can be normal. But when fear of abandonment is severe and frequent, it can cause trouble. It may impact how a person’s relationships develop. When this is the case, the support of a therapist or counselor may help.


A pattern of emotional abandonment or neglect can also be traumatic. It can qualify as a form of abandonment.

People who felt abandoned as children may be more likely to repeat this pattern with their children. But some emotionally abandoned children recognize this pattern. They can go on to nurture their own children and break the cycle of abandonment. Many of these signs of abandonment may also play out between people in a relationship.


Adults who did not experience abandonment as children may still have feelings associated with abandonment. These can come from losing an intimate partner to separation, divorce , or death. Abandonment may occur in childhood or adulthood. Either way, the impact can be pervasive. It may negatively affect any other relationships a person develops, whether they are intimate, social, or professional. Fear of abandonment can impact an otherwise healthy relationship.


Children may worry about their parents abandoning them. This can be natural, as children form attachment to their parents from birth. Young children may get anxious about their parents leaving for a short trip. They may get anxious when a parent drops them off at daycare or school. It is possible for children not to be impacted long-term by these worries. This can mean making sure they have a secure caregiver attachment. This will help them learn social skills and have healthy relationships later in life. 

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