Self abandonment— don’t do it.
Most of us are unaware of how often we abandon ourselves and ask someone else to be responsible for the task of keeping us feeling safe— whether that be emotionally or physically. Those of us with an anxious attachment have a big fear of being abandoned. This stems from when we were children being abandoned by our caregiver(s). When we grew up and ventured out into the dating world those of with anxious attachment feel abandoned A LOT in dating. I experienced this recently with the last guy I dated. When I wouldn’t hear from him the next day after hanging out, I would feel completely abandoned. However, it wasn’t he who was abandoning me. It was me abandoning me!
Humans with anxious attachments often have their inner child running the show. When we are activated our inner child takes control and our adult self exists stage right and our inner child begins acting out via activating strategies. I go into what activating strategies are in this post. We self abandon by letting our inner child take over and repeat patterns we learned for survival in childhood. These survival patterns ensured our survival when we were growing up, but have no place in our adult lives. And the area I see this the most is in our sex lives.
In dating, we often rush into intimacy. Clothes start coming off pretty quickly after meeting a new amour without a lot of thought because our hormones are surging, we like this person, sex/hooking up feels incredible and we want to be loved. However, when we get intimate with someone without first establishing emotional intimacy with our clothes on— and spoiler alert, this takes time—we are self abandoning. It’s why the moment after sex when the guy doesn’t really cuddle you or gets up to leave or if you do spend the night together but leave early the next morning, it feels so shitty. We self abandon and then expect the partner we are with to meet our emotional needs for us. I’ve also found this extends to all hooking up as well. This is unfair and will only lead to suffering.
So, how do we discontinue this behavior? First and foremost, we need self awareness. This behavior is the most common in humans with anxious attachment style. Humans with anxious attachment learned, as kids, to sacrifice their needs and chase their caregivers love because the caregiver was emotionally unavailable and abandoning them emotionally or sometimes all together. Jumping into sex with someone we aren’t emotionally bonded with first and have already learned we can trust/wants the same things/is committed to us, is the grown up equivalent of trying to find the initial love we lacked in childhood. We have to notice this behavior within us first and see these patterns to begin to heal them. As I mentioned in this post, I advise humans with anxious attachment to keep all the physical “stuff” to a G rating- think a good night kiss, hugs, etc— until emotional intimacy has been established and you know your partner is committed to you.
In my own dating life, I told the last guy I dated I wanted to move slow physically. But, then I invited him into my bed to make out and fool around. I was sending him a VERY mixed message. I said one thing and was acting like another. We didn’t have sex, but I wasn’t holding my boundaries for myself strongly either. What I was unknowingly doing was calling him into my bed to fool around while also expecting to be building emotional intimacy at the same time. When he was more interested in taking off my shirt than wanting to know me more deeply, I was hurt. However, I wasn’t taking responsibility for myself! I was self abandoning and then asking him to be responsible for my emotional support. Ultimately, I walked away from the situation because he wasn’t emotionally unavailable, but I also walked away because I realized how irresponsible I was being with myself.
We can do better! We can begin to show up for ourselves and hold our inner children and tell them they are safe. The best way we can do this is by taking responsibility for our emotional and physical safety.
If you’re having trouble with self abandonment, I look forward to connecting over a session.