I am always afraid that people are going to leave me

Published on October 16, 2019

Max grew up as an only child with a single mother.  Max’s father left his mother before he was born.  Because of this, his mother had to work long hours to provide for both of them.  He often felt like he had to protect her, and that she was unable to be there for him emotionally.  His mother was exhausted, and Max felt like he was a burden.  He felt abandoned by his father and was nervous that if he didn’t behave, his mother would also leave him.  When Max was in trouble at school or at home, he would think that it was because he wasn’t good enough or that he wasn’t loveable.

Max’s romantic relationships were a struggle because he always felt anxious that people were going to leave him.  He tended to put his needs behind his partner’s needs so that they would not abandon him.  He felt unseen and unheard, yet he stayed in his relationships until the women left him for being too possessive or anxious.  When he would go through a break up, he would lose sleep for days, and his anxiety would increase.

When coping with abandonment anxiety, here are some things to consider:


When we understand our value or our worth, we worry less about pleasing others so that they will stay with us.  When we know our self-worth, we appreciate that being our authentic or true self is the self that our partner wants to be with. If people pretend to be something that they are not, eventually the mask falls off.  Feeling like you are not enough or not good enough might lead to acting out or controlling behaviours that end up pushing people away. 

Frustration tolerance

Learning how to manage strong emotions or frustrations helps people to stay calm under pressure.  The realization that you can handle or cope with strong emotions helps you to understand that you can handle situations.  Knowing that you can handle situations helps you to feel less anxious or desperate under stress.   


Self-soothing techniques foster a sense of independence. If anxiety or fear of abandonment comes up, self-soothing techniques help you to calm down and take you out of fight or flight mode.  When people are in fight or flight, they may act irrational and do things that they might later regret.


Boundaries are necessary to feel seen and heard. When people put their needs behind the needs of others, they can end up feeling resentful, unwanted or unimportant.

Understand your attachment style

Understanding your attachment style can help you to understand how your feelings about yourself and other people influence your actions in relationships. If you are curious about your attachment style overall, and with certain relationships, you can take this quiz.  


Do you feel you would like help with abandonment anxiety? To set up an appointment please contact me on +852 2521 4668 or email m.borschel@mindnlife.com. You can book a private or Skype session.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash


Category(s):Abuse / Abuse Survivor Issues, Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Trauma / Complex PTSD

Written by:

Dr Monica Borschel

Dr Borschel specialises in Attachment and Loss. She is experienced in helping adults, teens, children, and families adjust to anxiety, trauma, abuse, divorce, separation, or loss of a loved one.

Dr. Borschel’s attachment-based psychodynamic therapy along with EMDR, enables her clients to find healing within themselves. In so doing, she can help adults, teens, and children to overcome grief, anxiety, trauma, neglect, emotional, verbal, physical abuse, and child abuse.

Furthermore, as an attachment specialist, she also helps individuals understand relationship patterns which prevent them from developing or maintaining healthy relationships. She is able to help reduce anxiety, insomnia, depression and promote confidence and self-esteem. This may include deciding what is in the best interest of the children during custody disputes, strengthening the relationship and communication between the parents and the children.

Dr. Borschel is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. She graduated with her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University in New York City. She later moved to Hong Kong to pursue her doctorate at the University of Hong Kong in Social Work and Social Administration.

Registered Clinical Psychologist with The Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology. Member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Counseling Association (ACA), The British Psychological Society (BPS), and the Hong Kong Family Law Association (HKFLA).

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