The person that suffers from abandonment issues is so frightened of being left behind, that they will emotionally, and sometimes physically, abandon someone they love, before the one they love can or has the opportunity to abandon them. What I mean by that is to keep from having that direct experience, they will set up circumstances in such a way, that leads to them doing it first, before this greatest fear they have within, can happen to them.
Doing it in this way absolves themselves of the responsibility of having to explain themselves. Also, it is an avoidance tactic used to continue to keep that fear at bay, as well as keeping others at arm’s length. These types of people have suffered abandonment events in their childhood where their parents have abandoned them emotionally and/or physically. They internalize these aspects within themselves and feel that something was wrong with them, not the one who abandoned them.
Because of this perceived unworthiness that develops within them over time, they often go through one failed relationship after another searching for what they cannot find: perfection. They ascribe to the thinking that life is a “fairy tale” and no problems should ever happen. When things go wrong, they become frightened of being left by their spouse.
They’re unfamiliar with what a basically settled life looks like, and they are uncomfortable with this. They were conditioned to live in chaos as survivors, and they know no other way of living. They are very unsettled within themselves and subconsciously seek to recreate the circumstances that they are familiar with.
They don’t understand anyone who accepts them when they cannot accept themselves. They are very puzzled when they act out and are not asked to leave, as they have expected to be. Their expectations are such they are “defective”, therefore, no one could love them or want to be around them. Because they have never figured out the problem is within them they project their personal abandonment feelings onto the one they love the most, usually their spouse.
This is also known as doing everything they can to chase you away, or run you off, because they think it is what they deserve when you take the bait they offer and walk away. It is not what they want, but they are driven by emotional forces within that lay beyond their control. They have never been taught to finish what they start, never been taught what true love entails, and they have no idea what commitment really means.
It requires a lot of strength, a lot of patience, and a lot of love to stand firmly and not be swayed by what is seen in outward appearance. Only God knows what goes on within the heart and mind of a person who suffers from abandonment issues. All one can do is pray for their spouse, set the boundaries necessary against bad behavior, and let God do the rest of the work that’s necessary within the mid-life spouse in order to help and eventually heal their long-standing emotional wounds in this aspect.
It is a hard task to live with someone who has this type of issue. On one hand, they need constant reassurance that you are there, on the other hand, their behavior is always contradictory and confusing. They are, at times, clinging and demanding, other times, they are emotionally distant, and closed up. When asked what’s wrong, since they don’t know, they get deeply angry, and begin to get defensive and they will “stonewall”. Because they lack communication skills, and lack the recognition that comes from knowing where these feelings are coming from, they cannot possibly vocalize the pain they feel inside.
Until the person who suffers from abandonment issues reaches a point of facing, resolving, overcoming and healing these abandonment issues, they will continue to repeat the same past patterns that were experienced in childhood.