Love’s Unseen Wounds: Overcoming Childhood Abandonment

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Childhood Abandonment Issues and Your Love Life

Managing your love life can be difficult, especially if you or your spouse have experienced childhood abandonment and have lasting scars from being abandoned by someone you trust.

What Is Childhood Abandonment?

Childhood abandonment refers to a parent or legal guardian physically or emotionally abandoning a child or ignoring their needs, putting their safety and well-being at risk. While this typically occurs at a young age, abandonment issues usually stay with the child throughout their lives and affect many other aspects.

Sad boy sitting alone in the dark with his backpack.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Childhood Abandonment Issues

When you start to date someone or get to know someone, it may be hard to tell if they have been through something as traumatic as childhood abandonment. If your spouse has abandonment issues, they typically won't boast about it and will try to keep it under wraps until they feel comfortable enough to talk to you about it. Some of the signs that you can look for, if you're wondering if your spouse has experienced this, include being clingy, demanding control, asking questions that challenge their trust in you, and putting up emotional walls. These signs may be manageable on their own, but when they're all present in your relationship, they negatively impact your love life.

Abandonment Issues and Your Love Life

If you or your spouse experienced abandonment issues early in life, managing a positive and fruitful love life could be challenging. Abandonment issues affect friendships and relationships by making it difficult to trust others and get attached to others. For an intimate connection to work long-term, you must trust your spouse, and your spouse must trust you. When there is a lack of trust, other parts of the relationship dwindle. Some of your love life areas affected by abandonment issues include trust, intimacy, reliability, and communication. There are ways to strengthen your relationship, if you or your spouse have experienced abandonment issues, and ways to create a positive and loving bond with your spouse.

Man leaving with a suitcase and a woman with her back to the man.

Abandonment Issues and Trust

Trust is one of the areas of abandonment issues that will affect your love life. Being able to trust your spouse is imperative for a successful relationship. Trust becomes very challenging when you or your spouse have experienced abandonment issues. When you're abandoned at a young age by someone you trust, that feeling never truly goes away. It makes entrusting others challenging and gives you the feeling that you need to do everything yourself. Trust can make or break a friendship or relationship. If you don't trust your spouse, you'll constantly wonder what they're doing, where they're going, and you will question their every decision. If your spouse doesn't trust you, they will be feeling the same things. You'll find yourself frustrated or confused if your spouse doesn't trust you, especially when you have nothing to hide.

Abandonment Issues and the Need To Control Others

Adults that have experienced abandonment issues often need to control others. Since they have experienced traumatic letdowns, adults with abandonment issues like to take control so they won't experience that again. They believe that if they are in power, the only disappointment they might experience will come from themselves, not from someone they trust. This need for power may seem insignificant but can damage your love life. If your spouse feels the constant need to control the relationship and control you, it could put you at risk for abusive behaviors. Being controlled by your partner will bleed into other aspects of your relationship and give them too much power. If they believe they can control you, they will often not stop at the small things, and they will start to manage all aspects possible to gain power and take decision-making into their own hands. If you have experienced abandonment issues, you may find giving up control challenging. It's important to remember that allowing your spouse control over various aspects of your relationship will enhance your love life, not hurt it. Having even power with your spouse will give each of you a sense of worth and control, allowing you to work better together.

Abandonment Issues and Intimacy

Intimacy is a significant factor in your love life, and abandonment issues can make intimacy difficult and, in some cases, impossible. There are, of course, several types of intimacy, and in a relationship, there is intellectual, emotional, and sexual intimacy. If you or your spouse has experienced abandonment issues, all three types of intimacy can be challenging and uncomfortable. Emotional intimacy may be the most challenging type of intimacy for someone who has experienced childhood abandonment. Being emotionally available to someone is a vulnerable act, and it takes a large amount of trust. If you or your spouse have experienced abandonment, it isn't easy to trust anyone. Sharing your deepest thoughts and emotions with someone, even if it's your spouse, takes a large amount of trust and confidence. Being emotionally intimate is essential to your love life because letting someone fully into your thoughts and emotions can encourage deep conversation and understanding. Sexual intimacy is a large part of your love life, but may be seen negatively by someone who has abandonment issues. Being sexually intimate with your spouse forges a deep connection with them and requires vulnerability and trust. From a biological standpoint, sex releases hormones and endorphins, and when experienced with your spouse, they can bring you closer together. If you or your spouse have abandonment issues that lead to the inability or unwillingness to share sexual intimacy, it can negatively impact your love life. Intellectual intimacy is a combination of emotional and sexual intimacy. It goes beyond the physical aspects and revolves around a much deeper connection. Intellectual intimacy can be difficult for someone who has abandonment issues because it takes two very vulnerable acts and requires an immense amount of trust from their spouse. This type of intimacy is vital to your love life because intellectual intimacy with your spouse allows you to work and problem-solve together.

Abandonment Issues and Reliability

Reliability is essential for your healthy love life. If you don't believe you can rely on your spouse, you may eventually resent them, and if they don't think they can depend on you, they will stop trusting you or depending on you. Reliability goes hand-in-hand with trust, and if you or your spouse have experienced abandonment issues, it may be challenging to rely on each other. Your love life requires teamwork, and relying on one another is one of the ways that working together brings you closer together. When you have reliability in your relationship, your love life grows because you and your spouse will both have the confidence that you can work through anything. There is another side to this, however. Many individuals that have experienced childhood abandonment have a hard time being reliable, but they will expect their spouse to be reliable. They will not want to make commitments because they want to leave the relationship on their terms, but they will expect you to be fully committed and reliable. Uneven reliability can be detrimental to your love life because you will feel like you are the only one putting in the hard work while they come and go as they please.

Couple sitting on a couch looking away from each other.

Abandonment Issues and Communication

Most married couples will tell you the secret to success is communication. Learning to communicate with your spouse can be challenging, but it's essential for a successful love life. Communication in a relationship goes far beyond discussing likes and dislikes, and the deep bond formed through intimate communication enhances your love life with your spouse. When you trust your spouse with the deepest and silliest conversations, you learn to communicate with each other on another level. If you're in a healthy relationship, you'll likely consider your spouse your best friend. Strong communication with your spouse allows you to foster an unbreakable bond and will enable you to understand each other honestly. If you've experienced abandonment issues, you understand the importance of clear communication, but you may not believe others are telling the truth. Being deeply hurt by someone you trusted in your past will severely reduce your faith in others and may leave you feeling skeptical of others. Having strong communication with your spouse will increase your ability to trust them and believe what they say.

Abandonment Issues and Self-Esteem

Abandonment issues, especially from a young age, play an extremely negative role in self-esteem. If you or your spouse have experienced abandonment, you may have low self-esteem. Unfortunately, being abandoned leaves you wondering what you did to deserve it. Experts have seen that even children at a young age believe they did something wrong to cause their parents to abandon them. This feeling and thought process stays with them, and when it comes to their love life, they typically present very low self-esteem, which can translate into intimacy issues, as discussed earlier. Having low self-esteem can change your attitude and make your love life challenging. If you've experienced abandonment, it's imperative to remind yourself that you did nothing wrong. Being deliberately abandoned by a parent or loved one reflects on their weakness, not on you. If your spouse has low self-esteem due to abandonment issues, it's important to remember that they likely don't notice it. Having low self-esteem may look different from person to person. It typically results in your spouse having difficulty opening up, fully trusting you, and being unfairly hard on themselves. Self-esteem will fluctuate over time, and there will be days when your spouse will be happy and confident in themselves. However, there will also be days when your spouse is sad and hard on themselves. Try to build them up to enhance your love life, especially when they're feeling down. Doing this will allow them to see you as their confidant and enhance their trust in you.

An image within an image of a couple looking at each other and away from each other.

How To Enhance Your Love Life if You Have Abandonment Issues

The first thing to remember is that you're not alone. Many people have gone through similar situations and are willing to talk things out with you. Feeling abandoned by a loved one at any age can be heart-breaking. It's not a wound that will heal overnight, but the good news is that other people in your corner want you to succeed. One way to heal these wounds is by addressing your emotions. It seems like a daunting task, and it's undoubtedly easier to shut the negative emotions out, but managing them head-on and discovering how you feel and why you feel certain things is an essential step in your healing process.

Open Up to Your Spouse

Opening up to your spouse about your past is another way to enhance your love life. Most of the time, it seems like keeping your past hidden may make it easier for your spouse to love you. The truth is, if your spouse cares about you and wants the best for you, they'll encourage you to open up about your past. Letting them in and explaining your emotions is essential for your love life, and it will bring you closer to your spouse and enhance the trust in your relationship. Explaining what you have been through to your spouse may help other aspects of your relationship because they will understand what you may perceive as red flags.

Speak With a Health Professional

Speaking with professionals is another great way to overcome abandonment issues. Some professionals can and will work through even the darkest of experiences with you and help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. There are ways to afford therapy and even meet with licensed health professionals online, in the comfort of your own home, through trusted websites and sources.

Couple holding hands and looking at each other while sitting on a couch.

How To Enhance Your Love Life if Your Spouse Has Abandonment Issues

If your spouse experienced childhood abandonment, it's essential to know that they will have lasting side effects from what they went through. Being abandoned by a loved one can leave lasting scars and hurt for years to come. It often takes years of work and therapy to work through some of the wounds that abandonment caused. If your spouse has experienced this, encouraging them to seek professional help may enhance your love life with them. Remind them that you want what's best for them, and while you might be a great listener, they probably need a more experienced person to help them work through all of their wounds.

Communication and Affirmation

Another way to enhance your love life, if your spouse has abandonment issues is by reminding your spouse how great they are, the reasons you love them, and how they make your life better. Building up their self-esteem will be essential for your love life because it will give them confidence in themselves and the relationship. Your spouse may need affirmation from you, but they don't want to ask you for it because it might make them seem conceited. People who have low self-esteem don't believe they deserve praise or affirmation, so it means a lot when you freely give it to them.

Build Up Their Self-Esteem

Building their self-esteem will address many areas of your love life. It will enhance your intimacy with your spouse because they will have increased confidence, opening them up to feel vulnerable and allowing them to trust you. It will also positively impact your communication because they will feel comfortable sharing things with you that they may have otherwise tried to hide. Building your spouse's self-esteem can also make them more outgoing and willing to be the one to make the first move or encourage sexual intimacy or emotional intimacy.

Encourage Self-Care

Encouraging self-care for your spouse and yourself will also enhance your love life. Self-care can be as simple as taking walks together or as deep as keeping journals with their private thoughts and feelings. Your spouse may have ideas of their own for what self-care will look like for them, and you should encourage them to do what will help them. Setting realistic expectations for your spouse and yourself in your relationship can enhance your love life. Setting these expectations will allow you and your spouse to be on the same page about how you should be treating each other. It reminds you both that there are limits to what you can and can't do, making your relationship seem manageable. Setting boundaries may also help you both rely on each other in positive ways. When your spouse knows what to expect from you and knows what you expect from them, it holds you both accountable for your actions.

Living With Abandonment Issues

Relationships are complicated and require an immense amount of work, and they are especially challenging when you or your spouse have experienced abandonment. It's important to remember that you can't do anything to take back the past. Moving forward and putting your best foot forward each day is the best thing to do after traumatic experiences. Using these methods can enhance your love life if you or your spouse have experienced childhood abandonment or have abandonment issues. It's undoubtedly going to take a lot of work, but when you truly love someone, it's worth it.

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