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Relationships can sometimes leave us scratching our heads about what went wrong. Have you ever been in a relationship or friendship with a woman who seemed to have trust issues? Maybe she overreacts with anger, fear, or sadness? If so, understanding her may be difficult but not impossible.
Even though you may love this person and they may love you, it can seem like they are expecting you to not be there for them… or are constantly “walking on eggshells”.
This is often the case when a woman has abandonment issues.
What Are Abandonment Issues?
Abandonment issues can stem from childhood experiences or traumatic events. When a person has unresolved abandonment trauma, they often feel like no one is there for them and that the world is an unreliable and unsafe place. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression.
Such issues can come from several different causes, and understanding them is key to understanding how to support her and make her feel secure. The most common causes of abandonment issues include neglect, childhood trauma, parental divorce, or the death of a parent.
When a woman has abandonment issues, she's often afraid of being in the same position again that caused her initial trauma. For example, if her parents divorced and one ceased all contact, she might be afraid that the same thing will happen in her relationships.
If you’re nodding your head, keep reading for ways to help her feel safe… or at least feeling less scared and more secure.
11 Tips for Understanding a Woman with Abandonment Issues
Tip #1. She May Be Wary of Commitment
Someone with abandonment issues may be hesitant to commit to relationships because it implies stability, something they might not feel in their lives. This can manifest in a variety of ways.
She may be hesitant to introduce you to her friends and family, or she may become emotionally distant when things get serious.
She may be very enthusiastic about your relationship when you two are together privately, but then become distant or uncommunicative in public. This is her way of protecting herself from the potential of being abandoned again.
She may even make holiday plans and be excited at first, but as the holiday approaches and it's time to meet other people in your life and vice versa, she may start making excuses not to go.
If you want to be with this person long-term, you may have to take things a little slower than you normally would. Remember you have to rebuild this person's trust and show that you won't run away at the first sign of trouble.
Tip #2. She May Have a Fear of Rejection
Rejection can be painful for anyone, but for someone with abandonment issues, it can be utterly devastating. As a result, she may go out of her way to make sure that no one will reject her.
This can manifest in several ways, such as overcompensating or trying to be the “perfect” partner. She may also become overly dependent on you, constantly seeking validation and reassurance that she is loved and accepted.
When it comes to your friends or family, she may try to be overly nice or even pushy to win over their affection.
It’s important to understand that she doesn’t want to be clingy or demanding. She is just trying to make sure that she won't be abandoned again. Be understanding of this behavior and show her that you are there for her even when she is feeling down.
Tip #3. She May Have a Difficult Time Opening Up
It is hard to trust someone again after a traumatic experience, and this is especially true for someone with abandonment issues. She may have difficulty opening up to you about her feelings or even talking about her past.
When you ask about her upbringing or past relationships, don't be surprised if she tries to change the subject or clams up.
This doesn't mean she doesn’t want to talk about it. It just means that she's scared of what might happen if she does open up. Instead of pushing her to talk, take it slow and focus on creating a safe space where she can trust you with her secrets.
Show her that you care and are understanding of how difficult it must be for her to talk about such sensitive topics.
It’s important to be understanding and patient with her. When she does open up, no matter how small, thank her for doing so and let her know that you appreciate it. This will help to build trust in the relationship and make it easier for her to talk about these kinds of topics in the future.
Tip #4. She May Avoid Conflict
It can be difficult for someone with abandonment issues to express their needs and wants, especially if it could lead to an argument or a conflict. As such, she may choose to keep her feelings and opinions to herself instead of speaking up for fear that doing so will make her partner leave her.
This can be especially hard when you are making plans together or debating topics you don’t agree on. She might not feel comfortable sharing her opinion if she thinks it will make you angry. If this happens, let her know that she can speak freely without fear of being judged or rejected.
Be understanding and show her that no matter what she says, you would never leave her because of it. She needs to feel secure in the relationship before she will be comfortable speaking her mind.
Tip #5. She Might Avoid Intimacy
Intimacy goes hand in hand with relationships, but it can be difficult for someone with abandonment issues because it requires trust and understanding of one another. She may have difficulty understanding that you don’t intend to leave her and will push away when things start to get too close.
In the past she may have experienced potential partners who left or started becoming distant after intimacy. As a result, she may feel used and not willing to get intimate unless she feels totally secure.
Don’t take this personally or try to pressure her into doing something she doesn’t want to do, as it will only make matters worse. Instead, focus on understanding why she is feeling this way and try to create an environment where she feels comfortable expressing her feelings.
Take it slow and don’t rush things. Let her know that you understand of her situation, and that you will always be there for her whenever she needs it. Once she feels secure in the relationship, then physical intimacy can follow.
Tip #6. She May Be Overly Protective of Herself
After going through a traumatic experience like abandonment, it is natural for someone to be overly protective and on guard when it comes to relationships. When she meets someone new or starts dating again, she will likely have her walls up and be very cautious about whom she lets in.
She will be expecting the other person to leave her and may even try to push them away before they can do so. It is important to be understanding of this behavior and reassure her that you are never going to hurt her.
Encourage her to open up and trust you and remind her that it’s okay to be vulnerable. Reassure her that you won’t take advantage of the situation and will always respect her feelings and needs.
If you really like her, you may have to feel comfortable being her friend first so she can get used to the idea of being in a relationship again. As a friend, it may be easier for her to open up and trust you.
Tip #7. She Might Have Anxiety or Depression
Abandonment can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, which can be hard to deal with.
She may not even be aware that these negative emotions are due to abandonment issues, but understanding her behavior and how it affects her mental health can help you better understand her.
Signs of depression can show up in different forms. She might seem withdrawn, irritable or emotionally distant. Sleep may be an issue, especially if her mind is racing with anxious thoughts. She might also lack motivation and energy, or not take care of herself like she used to.
Anxiety can manifest as feelings of fear and worry that make it difficult for her to relax or concentrate on anything. She might also experience physical symptoms such as sweaty palms, rapid breathing, headaches or stomach pains.
Be understanding and patient if she’s going through a rough emotional patch. Let her know that you are there for her and understand what she’s going through.
If her depression or anxiety gets out of control, don't be afraid to suggest professional help. If she rebukes the idea, do not push her too much. Instead, let her know that you’re there to support her and even help her find a therapist if she ever changes her mind.
Tip #8. She May Have Reactive Attachment Disorder
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a condition that develops in children who have been neglected or deprived of affection. This can cause a child to be overly attached to people, which can follow them into adulthood.
Someone with RAD may be overly clingy and dependent, become jealous easily, or demand constant attention from their partner. If you notice that she’s struggling with understanding boundaries, it could be a sign of RAD.
Again, understanding why she is feeling and acting the way she is will help you be understanding and supportive.
Tip #9. She May Have Difficulty Trusting
It’s hard to trust someone after having been betrayed and hurt. A person with abandonment issues may have difficulty trusting, even when someone is trying to show them that they can be trusted.
She may show this when you talk to a member of the opposite sex, even if you are just friends, coworkers, or acquaintances. Simply saying hello to or sharing a laugh with another woman may be enough for a woman with abandonment issues to think you are trying to cheat on her.
Trust is something that needs to be earned, and it can take a long time for someone who has been abandoned to learn how to trust again. Encourage her to take things slow and establish a strong foundation before allowing someone too close to her heart.
One way you may help establish trust is to let her see your text messages and emails, or anything else that may reassure her. If you decide to meet up with a female friend or coworker, make sure she knows about it and you may want to invite her along so there isn't any confusion.
Tip #10. She May Have Low Self-Esteem and Confidence Issues
A sense of self-worth can be heavily damaged by abandonment issues. She may not feel worthy of love and attention… or think that she isn't good enough to get it from anyone. This can lead to low self-esteem and confidence issues, which can manifest in various ways.
For example, she may be overly critical of herself and her accomplishments or feel too embarrassed to do things that make her stand out. She may also put up a wall to protect herself from getting hurt. This can make it difficult to get close to her and understanding her may require a lot of patience and understanding.
Make the effort to compliment her often and let her know that you admire and appreciate her. It’s also important to be understanding of her feelings and not mock or belittle it.
Be mindful of how you talk about other women as you don't want her to feel like she is being judged or compared to anyone else.
Tip #11. She May Not Get Excited About Much
A woman with abandonment issues may have difficulty finding joy in many things. This could be because she is constantly looking for something that can take away the pain of the past and give her a sense of security.
During holidays and birthdays, a lack of excitement may be less about not wanting to connect with your family and more about avoiding past triggers. Who knows what past holidays and special moments were like for her?
To help her get excited about things, try to introduce new activities or experiences that she may find enjoyable. Encourage her to focus on the present and start doing things that make her feel good.
This could be anything from going for a walk or attending an art class. The important thing is to do it together and make sure she knows that you are there by her side.
More Ways You Can Help a Woman with Abandonment Issues
Active listening will be key in understanding a woman with abandonment issues. Pay close attention to her words and body language as this may help you understand how she is feeling. Try to avoid interrupting when she talks.
Be Understanding and Supportive
Be understanding of her feelings and don't pressure her into doing things she isn't comfortable with. Respect her boundaries and let her know that you are there for her when needed.
Encourage Positive Self-Talk
Positive self-talk is a great way to help someone with abandonment issues. Encourage her to talk positively about herself, her accomplishments, and her future.
Talk about Your Feelings Openly
It can be difficult to talk about feelings, especially when it comes to abandonment issues.
However, being open and honest with your partner can go a long way in understanding each other better and building trust.
Ask Questions and Listen Non-Judgmentally
When a woman with abandonment issues talks about her past, avoid passing judgment or offering advice. Just listen and ask questions if needed.
Focus on the Present
The past can be painful, but it’s important to focus on the present. Try to encourage her to enjoy the moment and celebrate what is happening right now.
Show Affection and Appreciation
Affection and appreciation can go a long way in understanding a woman with abandonment issues. Make sure to show her that you care about her and appreciate all the things she does for you.
Take Things Slow
Don’t rush into things too quickly as this can cause her to feel overwhelmed. Take things slow and make sure that she is comfortable with each step before moving forward.
Encourage Healthy Habits
Healthy habits such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and a balanced diet can help her manage her feelings of abandonment. Encourage her to practice these healthy habits on a regular basis.
Final Thoughts about Understanding a Woman with Abandonment Issues
Just because a woman still has issues coping with abandonment, doesn't mean she is bad or crazy. She is a human being that has yet to fully heal from past emotional wounds that may occasionally reopen due to more recent treatment.
A little girl that was abandoned by her parents may never fully heal just because she is now an adult. However, patient understanding and sincere support can create a bond that gives her strength to keep going.
Be there for her when she needs you, and make sure she knows that you understand and will not abandon her like others have done in the past. And if you’re lucky, with enough time and trust, she may feel comfortable enough to seek professional therapy.
Understanding a woman with abandonment issues takes time… but clearly there is something about her that is special enough to love if you’ve chosen to stay by her side.
Never forget that understanding and loving a woman with abandonment issues is one of the most compassionate acts you can perform for someone else. For more insight on this topic, out the article 9 Steps to Get over Abandonment Issues in a Relationship.