Emotional abandonment: what is it and how can it affect us?

We all want to be accepted and loved, whether by our family, partner or group of friends, because social relationships are part of human nature and we always want them to be as healthy as possible.

However, there are times when we feel that a loved one is not paying enough attention to us or is being distant and cold, not knowing exactly what it is owed.

Emotional abandonment is something that can be experienced with great pain and not everyone is forced to express the same consequences.. In this article, we will discuss this feeling and relate it to certain disorders in which it acquires an important role.

    What do we mean by emotional abandonment?

    The term “emotional abandonment” is a difficult thing to define, because it depends on how each one experiences it and the meaning he gives to it. Trying to define as objectively as possible, emotional abandonment is a subjective state in which a person feels unwanted, left out, or has lost a source of emotional support, either suddenly or gradually.

    Since this is a situation of abandonment, the breakdown of the emotional bond occurs unilaterallyThat is, one of the two people involved in the relationship, whether family, friendly or intimate, ceases to be part of it without notice or very suddenly. When this happens, the other person, who feels inclined towards the one who abandoned him, suffers the emotional consequences of the rejection.


    Whether as a couple, with friends or with family, there are several signs of an emotional abandonment situation.

    However, these can be so subtle that they go unnoticed and an alarm situation does not arise. Although they can be very simple behaviors and are apparently not done with bad intentions, in the long run they become very harmful. Some of the most common signals are:

    1. Talk about everyday and superficial topics

    When two people who love each other barely spend a few minutes a day chatting, talking about boring topics like the weather, it can degenerate into a situation where one of them does not feel loved enough by the other.

    Also, in the area of ​​friendships or family, it can cause the relationship to slow down in the long run, making people you share a lot look completely unknown with like blood.

    2. When there are other people, each one speaks only to his own

    Sometimes it happens that when you go out with your partner, one of the lovers has more to do with the group of friends than the other, or they do not share the same friendships.

    While it doesn’t need to be a signal to indicate something serious, the fact that each of you is committed to talking to your friends and putting the other aside may indicate that there is some intention to “rest”. .

    If this situation is repeated several times, it may indicate that the two have an interest in ignoring each other when there are other people, taking advantage of this social situation.

    3. Mistrust

    When two people, whether they are siblings, relatives, friends or boyfriends, feel that they cannot rely on the other for important matters, it is a clear sign that there is has a lack of confidence.

    In turn, lack of confidence contributes to a situation of emotional abandonment, Because the victim feels that she is not taken seriously or appreciated enough, a very painful situation.

    4. Disinterest in the affection of the other

    Human beings, as the social animals that we are, need affection. Hugs, hugs, kisses, and flattering words are things that, while they may seem trivial, are not.

    When a loved one does not respond properly to these acts, or gives them very little importance, it can generate feelings of rejection.

    A good relationship is one in which the two feel equally loved and match up when emotional acts are manifested.

    Consequences and associated disorders

    People who have been emotionally abandoned can manifest a wide range of related issues, Which may vary depending on their severity and impact on daily life. The most common types of symptoms are usually depressive, such as sadness, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, and avoiding interacting with other people, either out of fear of being hurt. again, or from lack of desire.

    It should be noted that such situations are part of everyone’s life, which is why it should not be mistaken that the suffering of emotional abandonment will necessarily lead to the development of a psychological disorder, but it can be a factor. risk. A person going through such a process can develop in a way that is totally adapted to his daily life, only he will go through a bad sequence.

    1. Separation anxiety

    This type of anxiety is considered by many to be a major source of anxiety and dysfunction in the individual..

    Separation from the caregiver causes the creation of a situation which is a breeding ground for the perception of emotional abandonment to be given.

    The loss of a relationship creates uncertainty in the individual. Not knowing whether or not the loved one will return, whether a parent or a partner, as well as the fear of not knowing whether this adversity will be overcome generates emotional tension.

    Separation anxiety can cause the sufferer to ask things like if they are worthy of love, if they are responsible that the partner, friend or relative has left them apart, if they will. make. be able to find another person …

    This, combined with the discomfort that already causes the feeling of abandonment, prompts the person to constantly self-assess, looking for flaws and weaknesses.

    2. Psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

    While this could be the cause of an extreme case, the truth is that there are people who exhibit typical PTSD symptoms when the relationship with a loved one is broken.

    Constant emotional suffering can lead to a traumatic situation, Which, although not necessarily pathological, will have important consequences on the behavior of the person.

    If the breakdown of the relationship was abrupt, the person may fear that in future relationships this fact will happen again, living in a situation of constant fear that the past will repeat itself.

    3. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

    Among the most characteristic symptoms of PLT are fear of criticism and social rejection, as well as a great fear of being abandoned.

    People who suffer from this disorder are very sensitive when it comes to relationships with other people, as well as having difficulty controlling their emotions and impulsivity.

    They may also be accompanied by insecurity about their own identity and have paranoid thoughts.

    4. Other problems

    As already mentioned, emotional abandonment, although unpleasant situation, should not involve pathology.

    When experiencing any of these situations, the person may experience many different feelings, depending on what has been experienced and who they are.

    Some people hate themselves because they see indications that what happened is their fault and therefore think that they could have behaved differently to avoid it.

    Others develop very low self-esteem, believing that the fact that they have been abandoned, especially in parent-child relationships, is because they are not worth it, which is not. whatever the other would like it to be.

    But what is most unpredictable is the feeling of helplessness, especially when what has happened has happened suddenly. The person tries to find explanations for something that they don’t necessarily have to have, leading them into a loop where it will cost them dearly to come out and, in response, she will be afraid to reconnect with a relationship.

    Is it possible to overcome emotional abandonment?

    Although, as we have already mentioned, emotional abandonment is not a characteristic symptom of a specific disorder, nor does it in itself allow anyone to be diagnosed, the truth is that there are ways to treat. this issue.

    Even if the person expressing it is socially adapted, emotional abandonment is still something that generates discomfort, even if it is normal. If you need to undergo treatment so that you can give the person seeking professional help the tools to overcome this condition, it should be so.

    There are several treatments, they are aimed at people without psychopathology like those who do it., Which allow to deal effectively with this problem.

    Popular cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective in treating symptoms associated with depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. There is also emotion-focused therapy or emotional regulation therapy, which is helpful in depression.

    Dialectical therapy is useful for treating the negative and impulsive feelings present in BPD, as well as acceptance and commitment therapy, which aims to prevent the patient from recalling memories that cause him pain.

    While all of these treatments are helpful, it should be noted that if a person feels like a loved one is leaving them emotionally, the first step in seeing how true it should be is to talk to their loved one. As much as possible, the topic should be brought up, talk about the feelings you are having and whether it is due to something the person suffering from it is doing. Sometimes a deep, sincere conversation can be the best medicine in the relationship.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Eisenberger, Naomi I .; and Lieberman, Matthew D. (2004-7). Why Rejection Hurts: A Common Neural Alarm System for Physical and Social Pain. Trends in Cognitive Science 8 (7): 294-300.
    • Rosenthal, MZ, Gratz, KL, Kosson, DS, Cheavens, JS, Lejuez, CW and Lynch, TR (2008). Borderline personality disorder and emotional response: a review of the research literature. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 28 (1), 75-91. doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2007.04.001.
    • Coe, CL; Wiener, SG; Rosenberg, LT and Levine, S. (1985). The psychobiology of attack and separation. Elsevier. pages 163 to 199.
    • Goleman, Daniel (1996). Emotional intelligence: a new vision for educators. PsycEXTRA dataset.

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