Learn About Ailments | Abandonment


Abandonment is a sense of loss or a feeling of being disconnected. Abandonment is usually through the loss of a relationship and can lead to depression and low self-esteem. Many people feel a sense of helplessness and an inability to function normally. Associated words: Loss, love, relationship, lonely, insecurity.

In This Article
Did you know? Causes of abandonment
Symptoms of abandonment Diagnosis of abandonment
Related terms

  • 3% of young adults say they were not cared for as children because of a lack of attention from their parents
  • In the UK, 6% of children experience frequent emotional maltreatment
  • Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce
  • Two thirds of divorce cases are instigated by women
  • On average, live-in relationships only last three years

Feelings of abandonment can be caused by a variety of life events but typically are triggered by relationship break-ups, bereavement, betrayal or simply being alone. Children who are adopted, widowers and those going through divorce are most likely to suffer with abandonment issues.

Abandonment can be physical, such as the withdrawal of an individual's presence through divorce or bereavement, or emotional – the loss of a partner, friend or loved one through a breakdown in communication. Emotional abandonment can often be more devastating as people find they are unable to face the problem and live their lives in denial.

Other causes of abandonment feelings:
  • Friendships coming to an end
  • Loss of a pet
  • Children attending nursery for the first time
  • Children feeling replaced because of the birth of another sibling
  • Sexual preferences (realising you're gay)
  • First love (teenage feelings, broken hearts)
  • Empty nest syndrome (children moving away from home)
  • Redundancy
  • Insecurity within relationships
With emotional abandonment in relationships, an uncomfortable silence is the common problem. A partner can stop communicating because the other partner doesn't listen to what is being said or because they have grown bored of being with them.

Abandonment isn't a symptom in itself but will have associated physical and psychological symptoms which affect a person's ability to function normally. Abandonment is similar to bereavement in that people go through a set of stages with strong feelings and emotions.

The stages of abandonment typically follow this order:
  • Feeling devastated at the severing of a connection resulting in shock, panic and despair.
  • Withdrawal from daily life because of a yearning, craving or longing for the return of a loved one or a return to normal routine.
  • A period of self-doubt and blame while trying to make sense of the rejection.
  • Feeling anger and hatred and wanting retaliation.
  • Finally letting go and living life in a normal way with a realisation of life's possibilities.
Like bereavement and grief, there is no timescale for the stages of abandonment and each person's experience can be different. Understanding the stages can help you deal with the strong feelings and emotions of being abandoned. Feelings of abandonment can be overwhelming and lead to more chronic problems such as stress, anxiety and depression.

Abandonment isn't a condition that can be diagnosed but any associated physical or psychological problems may require assessment by a healthcare professional. In the first instance your GP will take a medical history of your problems and refer you to a mental health specialist should you be displaying signs of anxiety or depression.


Therapies to consider
Art Therapy Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Counselling
EFT EMDR Energy Healing
Hypnotherapy Life Coaching NLP
Psychotherapy Reiki


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