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Abandonment anxiety in relationship is more typical for women than for men.  Women so often experience the pain of anxiety in the form of fears, worry, obsessive thinking, even panic  especially in the initial stage of a romantic relationship but could be at any time.  The classic old image of a woman waiting anxiously by the phone for the guy to call still pervades many of us women to this day. Even the most feminist, independent woman can fall into this  painful pattern.  Fear of abandonment, rejection and hurt with memories of previous disappointments all feed the anxiety.    Any woman who has experienced this tortuous state knows  that  there may not be easy answers to soothing the anxiety and calming the fears.  It  does make getting involved in an intimate relationship begin to feel that it’s  one of the most dangerous things we can do.

One thing that can help is having compassion for oneself and understanding the nature of anxiety.  Anxiety is often about futures that have NOT happened yet.  It is definitely not about being with what is true in the moment.  When it comes to relationships, we can easily torture ourselves with visions about what has happened in the past.  Especially in cases of early childhood abandonment or neglect, these memories get lodged in our physical beings – our own cells  can retain traumatic memories.  Anxiety is also about unacceptable feelings.  Any powerful feeling  that can threaten to overwhelm us and push through in ways we feel we can’t control..Having compassion for ourselves in this process can ease the pain.  It can help one reach out for support from a friend, family member or therapist.  The important thing here is reaching out for someone who can UNDERSTAND….Talking to someone who won’t mirror compassion – will lead to us rejecting ourselves and so lead to more pain.   It is possible to learn how to cope  with painful anxiety around abandonment  in relationship.  The challenge is finding the right coping skills that can  support us, ease the uncomfortable feelings and help us develop compassion towards ourselves in the process.

Marlena Kushner,MFT
Women’s Therapy Services


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