What is Abandonment Schema? The Fear of Separation

Fear of separation shapes both emotional and romantic relationships. Abandonment/Instability schema is one the most important psychological dynamics in this context. 

The Abandonment Schema is found in adults who have experienced some form of chronic childhood neglect or abandonment, including early parental loss. This schema, which is the core expectation that they will be abandoned if they are not perfect, makes them cling to objects and people- it is also why neglectful mothers/fathers find themselves with possessions that may include everything but food.

What is the Abondonment Schema?

The abandonment schema is the belief that someone you feel connected with will eventually desert you.

The abandonment schema explains many cases of narcissistic personality disorder because the person at its center has an almost paranoid feeling that everyone “should” abandon them. When people with this personality disorder feel their needs for love and care are not being met, they think it’s because of what a bad person they are. In this article, we will discuss what causes abandonment, how to treat it, etc.

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Source: @theskilledhelper

If you have the abandonment scheme, you always feel like you’ll lose people around you.

You have a strong feeling that your relatives, loved ones will catch a disease and die, or they will act unnatural and disappear forever. Because of this fear, you would always be alert for any signs that suspect you.

To prevent your loved ones from deserting you, you may develop jealousy, overly possessive behavior, controlling behavior.

Your relationship with your partner is now at the center of your life. You can’t stand to be separated from your spouse for a few days. People may call you an obsessed lover.

what is the abandonment

You may never believe even if your partner says he/she’s not going to desert you, that they will be loyal to you. But you cannot explain why you can’t believe them.

Sometimes you can take actions that test your partner’s loyalty to you. However, these behaviors are toxic and most likely negatively affect a relationship.

You may feel intense anger and aggressive attitudes towards your partner. Because you believe that he/she will eventually leave you for one reason or another. That’s why you want to punish them.

What Causes Abandonment Schema ?

The origin of your abandonment scheme may be unstable, alcoholic, and impulsive parents or situations that interfere with your secure attachment experience, such as early parent loss.

When you were young, your parents, or those who raised you, may have died or left home. Your parents may have been separated or hospitalized for too long.

You may have been raised by carers or an institution, seeing different mother figures, or been sent to boarding school at a young age.

Maybe your mother was inconsistent. She was too depressed, angry, or drunk to take care of you.

Your parents divorced when you were young, or they were fighting so much that you were afraid they would leave.

You have significantly lost interest in a parent. For example, a brother was born or your parent remarried.

Your family was very protective of you. As a child, you never had the opportunity to face the challenges of life.

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abandonment schema

How Does the Abandonment Scheme Affect Relationships?

The concept of Schema Chemistry refers to the appeal of people in your relationships that fit your schema.

Even though you are scared of abandonment, you may feel intimate with non-commitment people. That is, people who are likely to leave you or make you feel abandoned are more attractive to you. If you have an abandonment scheme, your partner may:

  • Not promise you in the long term because he/she is married or has an affair.
  • Not spend time with you (traveling a lot, living far away, or workaholic).
  • May be emotionally unstable (drinking alcohol/pills, depressed, unable to have a regular job), and emotionally consistent.
  • Maybe a Peter Pan; someone who doesn’t want a settled life, wants the freedom to be his girlfriend.
  • Not too sure how he feels about you. He says he wants you, but he’s back emotionally. For a moment, when you have intense love with you, you can pretend that you are not in another situation.

How to Treat Abandonment Schema ?

One of the main ways to treat this situation is to gain a more realistic point of view. After a successful therapy session, you can get rid of this fear. Even if you don’t, you’ll learn how to cope with it.

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Source: @bearinmind.psychology

Close relationships become more enjoyable. You may take risks and take responsibilities in a relationship.

Because you understand the logic of Schema Chemistry, you make more healthy decisions and choose your partner accordingly.

You don’t need to manipulate people since you have trusted your partner.

Also may realize that not involving in a relationship is ok. You don’t feel pressed about having a relationship. And you don’t feel depressed alone.

Last Updated on December 10, 2022 by Lucas Berg


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