image of woman behind gate to symbolize self-abandonmentDo you ever feel like you lose yourself in relationships? Do you stay in a relationship that breaks you down? If so, you’re not alone, and while there are many different reasons this pattern plays out, one reason could be linked to a tendency toward self-abandonment.

What is Self-Abandonment?

To understand self-abandonment, it helps to look at the concept of trauma and abuse. Self-abandonment is when, after extended periods of maltreatment, we begin to adopt the self-view and self-treatment of the person mistreating us. Self-abandonment can happen at any age, but is often correlated with abuse and maltreatment in childhood and can become an integral part of our identity. When we are unaware that we are abandoning ourselves, we can bring this self-abandonment into adult relationships, where we then feel as though we’ve “lost” ourselves.

Here are some signs self-abandonment might be showing up for you in your adult relationships:

  1. You find yourself unable to voice your wants, needs, opinions, and thoughts.

Self-abandonment can lead us to believe that we are not worthy of expressing ourselves and voicing our needs. Moreover, when we have adopted someone else’s view of us, it can be difficult to discern what we truly want and need. 

  1. You find yourself accepting a partner’s mistreatment of you.

Humans are born with innate tendencies toward self-preservation. When these tendencies are cultivated and honored by those around us, the drive toward protection and preservation of the self is strengthened. When, however, this tendency is replaced by self-abandonment, it becomes easier to accept mistreatment from others. Not only do we have internal messaging that opens space for maltreatment, we no longer have the drive toward self-preservation that would bolster our resistance to abuse or poor treatment.

  1. You are constantly apologizing.

For many of us who have abandoned ourselves, just taking up space can make us feel the need to apologize. When we have abandoned ourselves, our guilt and shame can make us feel as though we’re just borrowing space in the world and our very existence is trouble for others. Do you apologize a lot, even when it’s unnecessary? 

If some of these sound familiar, it may be helpful to learn more about self-abandonment. If you’re ready to change the way you show up in relationships, both with others and yourself, a relationship coach may be able to help. Please reach out – you don’t have to do this alone.