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View Poll Results: Had you heard of Abandoholism before?
Yes 1 7.69%
No 12 92.31%
Voters: 13. You may not vote on this poll

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Abandoholism - March 20th 2010, 12:10 AM

A show of hands – those of you who have heard the term “abandoholism.” Keep your hands raised if you can define it.

Hundreds of people across the nation suffer from abandoholism, oftentimes seeing the effects on a daily basis. Prisoners of their minds, abandoholics often feel defeated by the aggressive nature of the cycles of their relationships, and more than that, they suffer the feeling of being alone. This is partially due to the fact that the term “abandoholism” is not widely recognised; it is neither treated nor handled in the same way a more infamous “-oholism” might be, such as alcoholism, or those who are addicted to sex or drugs. This should not be mistaken to mean that abandoholism does not deserve to be recognised, acknowledged and sought out in order to help abandoholics take the first step onto the path toward recovery.

Abandoholism is characterised by one’s tendency to become attracted to unavailable partners. Driven by hormones and other chemicals, abandoholics live for the intensity of dramatic relationships and often pursue unavailable partners. Many people who suffer from abandoholism lose interest, or gain a lack thereof, in those who show interest. This does not mean that the abandoholic is incapable of a relationship. Many abandoholics lead lives a big part of which is partnership – perhaps too big. Abandoholics tend to get irrationally attached to their partners, becoming clingy, needy and, in some cases, desperate.

Because there are so many individuals, and therefore, individual cases, no one can say for sure what causes abandoholism. One theory is that the individual is hurt deeply and/or often by someone they care intensely for. Another theory is that it begins in childhood; one or both of the child’s parents were emotionally detached, leaving the child feeling alone and abandoned. Eventually, the abandoholic begins to internalise the pain, planting the seed for deep-rooted issues, and might even engage in other destructive behaviours. The abandoholic goes to extremes to feel loved and thus begins to equate insecurity with love. The feeling of need becomes a necessity, the abandoholic becomes addicted to the emotions and chemical reactions that come along with love and loss, and a cycle is born.

“Abandoholism is driven by both fear of abandonment and fear of engulfment” (Anderson, “What makes someone an abandoholic?”)

Anderson describes the fear of engulfment as panicking that one will become overwhelmed by their partner’s emotional expectations and that they will be pressured into sacrificing his or her emotional needs. Fear of engulfment involves pulling back once the pursuit turns round. Picture being in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, and all of a sudden, after having been cast as Jerry for months, maybe years, you get a call saying that you and your partner will be switching roles – you’ll be playing the character Tom. One might feel uncomfortable impersonating an “alien” character and therefore might back out of the job. Fear of engulfment operates in the same fashion. The abandoholic becomes frightened by the “alien” nature of their target and ends the engagement before he or she can be abandoned or hurt.

Anderson also claims that those who suffer from abandoholism also suffer from abandophobia. She states that “there is a little abandophobism in every abandoholic” (Anderson, “What is Abando-phobism?”). Abandophobics commonly avoid relationships, and are commonly compelled by a negative attraction vs. a positive association.

Fear goes through an incubation period, increasing in intensity as time goes on. This fear increases with every abandonment the abandoholic suffers. Soon, the abandoholic begins to feel worthless and undeserving, and they begin to look towards others to give them the reassurance and the self-esteem they need. In most relationships, the clingy behaviour begins to either annoy the partner or it scares them off, leaving the abandoholic to suffer yet another “abandonment.” Clinging to one’s partner is one of the many symptoms of abandoholism.

Other symptoms include –

Reaching Out– Many people who suffer from a fear of abandonment will reach out to anyone with whom he or she is involved. He or she may even go so far as to create stories, exaggerate the truth or tell blatant lies in order to gain sympathy and reassurance from their partner. They crave a constant closeness – a mental, emotional and/or physical connection – that, many times, ends up driving their partner away or creating more of a distance between both parties of the relationship.

Rising Panic
– Many people experiencing the fear of abandonment are also easily alarmed. He or she might panic if their partner is late coming home from work or if their partner fails to call at the exact time he or she said that they would. This fear causes someone with a fear of abandonment to engage in compulsive behaviours, such as ringing their significant other frequently or contemplating self-harm.

– Another sign that someone might be suffering a fear of abandonment is the person becomes complacent in order to keep people from leaving. Oftentimes, someone with a fear of abandonment will willingly engage in undesired behaviours, such as engaging in sexual activity against their internal will.

Need for Reassurance
– Although a need for reassurance is, in most relationships, normal behaviour, there is a point where it crosses the line into becoming a compulsive, and often detrimental, behaviour. Someone with a fear of abandonment might constantly ask “Do you love me?” or “How would you feel if I disappeared?” or other similar questions. This can be damaging to the relationship in the sense that if the partner feels smothered by the abandophobic’s constant doubts, he or she might retreat, causing distance or even a break-up.

Low Self-Esteem
– The self-esteem of someone with a fear of abandonment is, many times, determined by their significant other or by the close family and friends around them. The abandophobic feels that if they are not surrounded by someone else who’s able to give them the reassurance and confidence they crave, then they are worthless.

Leaving Relationships
– The last commonly known symptom is the bouncing around from relationship to relationship. This gives the person suffering a fear of abandonment the illusion that they have the control over who’s doing the rejecting. They might also end a positive relationship with the expectation that, ultimately, something will go wrong.

In short, abandoholism is a misunderstood phenomenon that either goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed. Many people who suffer from the fear of abandonment, and who experience the cycle of abandonment, no matter their profile, sex or age, also suffer from feeling lonely in love and lonely in what they’re going through. With a little education, and a little insight into what can help eliminate these fears, abandoholics, abandophobics and the abandophobic inside every abandoholic can begin to recover from their gripping mindset.


Anderson, Susan. “Abandoholics.”
Abandoholics Anonymous
. 2003. Web. 18 March 2010
<-website here->*

I'm in the process of proofing this article and having people read it in order to provide comments, suggestions or pose questions that might help me further develop the article or that might inspire content for my next. I figured that this belonged in "Addictive Behaviours" because abandoholism is a very real addiction from which many people suffer day-to-day. I appreciate you taking the time to read.

*The website has been edited out to avoid breaking the advertising rule.
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Re: Abandoholism - March 20th 2010, 05:24 PM

have to say this was very interestng to read, and in a way makes a lot of sense. people act different and need peopel to make them feel okay. thanks for postuing it was very good to leatrn about this

leave me alone i'm not an angel

and i know i'm losing my mind for no real gain

<if you want to get out alive, run for your life>
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Re: Abandoholism - March 21st 2010, 12:38 PM

That was an interesting read. Haven't heard of the term before...
Thanks for posting.

"Think of your life as a book, move forward, close one chapter and open another." – Unknown

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Re: Abandoholism - March 21st 2010, 04:50 PM

That was REALLY interesting. Although I wouldn't define myself as this, I can see many of my own traits in what you have written about, and I can also see why I have them.

Thanks for posting, I did really enjoy reading it

I'm still alive.
Must have been a miracle
It's been one hell of a ride
Destination still unkown
It's a fact of life: If you make one wrong move with a gun to your head
You better walk the line or you'll be left for dead.

I'm a runaway train on a broken track
I'm the ticker on the bomb that you can't turn back
Thats right.
I got away with it all and I'm still alive.
Let the end of the world come tumbling down.
I'll be the last man standing on the ground
As long as hot blood runs through my veins
I'm still alive.
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Re: Abandoholism - March 21st 2010, 10:04 PM

Thank you everyone for the comments. This is something I am currently suffering from and am working on in therapy... It really helped to put a name to the symptoms and it really helped to have a concrete starting point; it's the one thing I've been missing for years. So I'm definitely glad for that, and I feel it's not at all uncommon and therefore, people should be educated about it; they might find the same starting ground I myself did.
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