Autophobia – Fear of Abandonment

   Written by on October 5, 2017 at 11:43 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Do you become attached to others too quickly?  Or, the opposite, do you avoid relationships because you are afraid of being dumped?  Do you end relationships even when things are going great?  Do you sabotage relationships?  A yes answer to these questions may mean you have autophobia or abandonment issues.

What are abandonment issues?  In plain talk, an abandonment issue means that you fear rejection by others, particularly in the romantic sense.  Intimacy can be a major challenge.  Your fears often become barriers to meeting new people or getting emotionally close to another.

Who has abandonment issues?  Early in life, abandonment issues start when we don’t feel loved, safe, valued, or connected within our family.  Abandonment issues stem from the loss of a parent through death or divorce; they can also result from inadequate physical or emotional care.  These early childhood experiences can lead to a fear of abandonment by the significant people in our adult life.  Abuse or neglect, living in numerous foster homes, or abusive alcoholic parents can aggravate abandonment issues.

Abandonment issues manifest in men and women alike.  While there is no test for abandonment issues, there are common characteristics that are reflected in the lives of people with abandonment issues.  Let’s look at some of these characteristics.

You instantly fall in love.  You fall hard and fast, over and over again.  You’re always in a relationship because you don’t know who to be as an individual.  You’re in love with the idea of love but actually find it difficult to execute.  You can’t do enough for your partner, and you’re a giver.

You exhibit excessive controlling behaviors.  You try to control your love interest’s comings and goings.  You irrationally question your significant other’s whereabouts and interactions with others.  You become anxious when you don’t hear from your partner, fearing that he or she is leaving you.

You can’t be alone.  The thought of being alone leaves you panicked.  You react by being clingy and need excessive attention and approval.  You don’t understand why you’re not appreciated.

You find flaws in potential mates.  You create a list of irrational flaws in any person who expresses an interest in dating you.  You look for what’s wrong instead of what’s right.  You use this list as the reason for not getting serious. You have unrealistic expectations of perfection in a mate.  Nobody ever breaks up with you because you don’t give him/her the opportunity.  You are always the one to leave.

You sabotage your relationships.  When things are going well in your relationship, you find a way of messing things up.  You throw monkey wrenches in your relationships by picking fights, pointing out problems, and amplifying the negative.  You are always angry when your partner doesn’t answer your calls or texts because he or she is busy at work.  You call or text your partner many times a day.  You are extremely jealous.

You live in paranoia that your significant other is cheating on you.  Your fears about a cheating partner are not based on any actual indications of infidelity.

You have trouble committing to one person.  You seek the “newnesss” of a relationship; you love the chase.  You’re really attracted to someone when you’re trying to catch him or her, but once you’re in the relationship you get bored.  This is a common expression of abandonment issues in men.

Your friends describe you as shy or reserved.  You’re hard to get to know because you don’t trust people.  You’re afraid to let someone in, you push people away, unwilling to attach to people for fear of being rejected.

These characteristics are not exhaustive.  What is important that you know is simply this – you are worthy of happiness.  Through the process of emotional healing, you can move toward a loving, supportive relationship.  While the process takes time, it is well worth it!  Next week we will talk more about this process.

For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.  Teach me your way, oh Lord, and lead me in a level path.  Psalms 27:10

Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or


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