My Abandoning Parent & My Love Life

This post is the first in a series of posts that will focus on the type of unhealthy relationship experiences we can all have in life that negatively affect our love lives. The good news is that once you become aware that an experience you’ve had in your life was unhealthy and could be affecting your psychological ability to form and sustain a healthy love relationship, you can fix it.

This particular post is for people who have experienced an abandonment growing up. One or both parents were unable or unwilling to raise you. Perhaps you were raised by another family member, foster parents, or in some other arrangement. Becoming aware of how this kind of experience can complicate your ability to form and sustain a healthy love relationship is always the first step.

The following excerpt describing the relationship between abandonment and the success of a person’s love life, was taken from my book, Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life

“This relationship experience (abandonment) is particularly virulent. It most commonly occurs as the result of the abandonment of a parent or other primary caregiver early in life. Abandonment involves a physically permanent separation from someone who is needed. The consequence is frequently a damaged view of attachment in adult interpersonal relationships. Interpersonal relationships are then chronically influenced by an expectation of loss.

The primary problem with abandonment is that the love related experiences that naturally occur as a consequence of a relationship are totally absent when a person is abandoned. For example, if you don’t have a relationship with your father because he abandoned your family when you were young, identifications that would have taken place had he been present throughout your early life will be absent or incomplete. As an adult person, any efforts you make to heal the negative effects of abandonment, and build a renewed trust in attachment in your love life, would have to struggle against an enduring expectation of absence.

The difficulties some people have with commitment in a love relationship often have their origin in experiences of abandonment. People who have suffered abandonment earlier in their love lives tend to either find people who abandon them or they find people that they will abandon. In some instances, an individual both abandons and finds people who abandon alternately in the course of his or her love life as a consequence of abandonment earlier in life.

Common love life problems associated with an exposure to abandonment in life are: difficulty making and keeping commitments, making promises not kept, turbulent love relationships, avoiding love relationships out of fear of loss, painful separations, obsession with getting approval in love, and nervously trying to keep a love partner from leaving a love relationship while anticipating abandonment.”

Remember, before you can do something about the fact that you’ve had experiences in your life that can complicate your ability to form and sustain a healthy love relationship, you have to become aware of what those experiences were. From there you can unlearn what you have learned and replace it with healthier learning. In my book, I describe this unlearning process in detail. I wrote the book as a “guide” to help readers identify, challenge, and practice the healthy changes that will dramatically improve a person’s love life.

Comments? What do you think?

Dr. Thomas Jordan, author of Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life

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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.