Fear of Abandonment Can Lead to Infidelity

In past posts and podcasts, I’ve talked about how sharing your fears with your spouse or significant other (SO) can help build intimacy between you. Today I want to talk about the other side of this issue: what can happen if you don’t share your fears, especially the innate fear of abandonment.

None of us wants to be alone. But so often the fear of being alone makes us feel very alone. We hide things we should be sharing with our SO for fear or hurting them or fear of their anger. We’re afraid that if we tell them whatever it is we’re feeling that they’ll be so hurt or angry or offended that they’ll leave us.

The opposite is the case, actually. The harder it is to tell your SO something, the more important it is to tell them.

Open communication is the only thing that will ensure a healthy relationship in the long run. Once communication stops for whatever reason, although it’s usually boils down to fear of abandonment or losing one’s family, you increase the risk of losing them. It feels much like a Catch 22, but it’s not. You simply must open up to your beloved or the consequences can be dire for your relationship, and ultimately your sense of self.

Perhaps the scariest thing to tell your spouse is that you find someone else attractive or perhaps it’s something as innocuous as having a dream about another wo/man. Another terrifying thing to share is that you feel unfulfilled or that your needs aren’t being met. Whether those needs are sexual in nature or emotional. Perhaps you just don’t feel seen or loved by your spouse any longer. These types of things are essential to discuss openly with your SO.

By holding such fears inside, they fester and they grow, making them increasingly difficult to share with your beloved. Too often, people find solace in the arms of new lover because this new lover is easier to talk to. But of course they’re easier to talk to! You have so much less to lose with a relative stranger. You find it easy to bear your soul to a new person because if they leave, then your family is still intact. You might lose a new love, but the security of one’s established relationship is untouched. Or, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that your primary partner is unaware that your relationship has been threatened and/or betrayed. For now.

When one is unable to share their deepest fears and dreams with their spouse, it opens the door to someone outside the marriage, for we all need to express ourselves from time to time. Even the most private person needs to vent and share and feel that they’ve been heard, seen. But by opening that door, it can never again be completely closed. Once one lie, one deception, has been embraced, it is that much easier to lie or deceive again. Then you are looking at someone in the mirror you may not like very much. Suddenly you realize that you are the very person you did not want to become, and it all started with an intense fear of abandonment.

Trust your spouse. After all, you chose to build a life together with this person, perhaps even build a family with them. So share your life. That’s what it’s all about in the end.

Remember, the harder it is to tell your beloved whatever it is you’re keeping from them, the more important it is to tell them that very thing. Find the courage to start bridging that gap today, or it will just become a chasm that is impossible to cross.


~ by omgrey on July 13, 2011.

2 Responses to “Fear of Abandonment Can Lead to Infidelity”

  1. Fear of abandonment is a big problem with one of my good female friends of almost 8 years. The fear began with some harsh treatment (punishment) from her father at a young age that continued until she moved away then married. Four or five years into that marriage her FOA festered as her husband became consumed in his very lucrative career. They are now divorcing because he caught her in her second affair — in reality it was her sixth or seventh — and she has lost custody of her two kids because he made all the money & had a high-paid attorney prepare for a punishing divorce. She has been a wreck the last 2 months. Though the failure of a marriage is & always will be 50/50, no more, no less for both spouses; he certainly chose to neglect the marriage, but he likely also began feeling he couldn’t do anything perfect to please her. Her issues were too deeply rooted. Shockingly neither of them ever pursued any marriage counseling until it was too late. Both had fears about the brutal realities of their dead marriage. Even then it was “church” counseling & neither of them were regular attendees or members of any church — going thru the motions.

    Sadly, just the other nite she informs me that the guy she & I had met while out dancing together last May have decided to date exclusively. I asked her if she was divorced yet. “No.” I asked who wanted the “exclusivity”? “Both.” “Does he know you’re not divorced yet?” “No.” I told her I was very sad & disappointed with her for several reasons I won’t get into here. Needless to say, she had/has gotten so use to not only flat-out LYING, but now it has graduated to a finely tuned method of OMISSION.

    Grey, I have recommended your blog & podcasts for her; I really really hope she listens to you; 7 years of me trying to tell her hasn’t broken her immense Fear of Abandonment & all its subsequent infections.

    Once again, fantastic ‘hydrogen-peroxide’ stuff!!! 🙂

    • Fear of Abandonment is deeply rooted and difficult to break, if not impossible. Sometimes the best thing we can do is just acknowledge that it is our fear being triggered and try to hide away until the unreasonable fear passes. The most tragic thing about severe abandonment issues is that it causes behavior to induce further abandonment, or as sometimes is the case as displayed by your friend, one abandons the relationship (via infidelity or just by leaving) before they can be abandoned themselves.

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