5 Things You Don't Realize You Do Because You're Addicted To Toxic Relationships

Could you be suffering from abandonment issues without even realizing it?

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The closest I came to starting what initially appeared as my first healthy relationship since my and my children’s mom split up was about six months ago. I met a woman who seemed like a great fit. We were around the same age, we lived less than an hour away from each other and we got on just fine for the first few weeks.

She wanted to take me back to her parents to introduce me and I am usually open-minded about such things. Being a dad, I like to know who my daughter spends time with also. There is nothing uncommon about this — nor was there anything uncommon about the subconscious way I began to pull back from her.


RELATED: 3 Ways Traumatic Childhood Events Seriously Hurt Your Adult Relationships

I didn’t realize it as it was happening, but that was when the future of this relationship became compromised.

There is an addictive pattern that was described first by Susan Anderson in her 2017 book Taming Your Outer Child called abandoholism. The behavior describes our subconscious efforts to self-sabotage ourselves by either avoiding potentially good things in our lives or ruining them once we have them. 

RELATED: 4 Signs You Were Emotionally Abandoned As A Kid (And It’s Affecting You Now)


This behavior is especially apparent in relationships. Whether you consistently chase after unavailable people or give up when faced with commitment, it's likely you're dealing with abandonment issues that suck you into toxic relationships and patterns of love.

What are abandonment issues? They stem from a fear of abandonment which, according to registered psychologist Simon Hearn, Ph.D., is "a psychological disorder where the individual suffering from this illness cannot control the fear that he or she feels when faced with the idea of having to cope with life and its difficulties alone."

In relationships, this translates to doing just about anything to avoid real commitment — if you're not really with someone, they can't really leave you.

"Abandaholism" is a pretty complicated set of behaviors because there are inherent contradictions and paradoxes to look out for.


5 Things You Don't Realize You Do Because You're Addicted To Toxic Relationships

1. You choose unavailable partners.

There are a number of ways that this shows up. It could be as innocent as always falling for women or men that don’t even prefer your gender (which I tend to do quite often), or as insidious as falling for people who are married. If you find yourself constantly pursuing the impossible it could be that you might, on some level, be pursuing them because they are impossible.

2. You're turned on by feeling insecure.

The fear of being left causes our mammalian brain to light up like a Christmas tree and confuse us into perceiving these flaky partners as special or irreplaceable. They are usually neither, but the biological reactivity that takes place inside of us and kicks off our separation anxiety really turns us on in a way.

These abandoners also, unfortunately, tend to set off all kinds of contradictions in us. We start to see tranquility as boredom, chaos as excitement, and undue tension as love.

RELATED: How To Know If The Person Who Abandoned You In The Past Is Still Affecting You Today


3. You're turned off by anyone who is really interested in you.

This was called “Fear Of Engulfment” by Anderson in her book, and it is exactly what it sounds like. When we feel someone is very interested in us and wants to be with us, we run for the hills. We perceive this as being cornered or being boxed in when it really just doesn’t suit us because there is not enough fear of abandonment in the dynamic anymore. It is serenity and abandoholics see that as straight boredom.

4. You never seem to find the right person.

This is the obvious result of constantly swinging between the two worlds of fear of abandonment and fear of engulfment. You spend equal time chasing those who are not available to you and running from anyone who is. It’s maddening, it’s tiring and it has most likely been programmed in us since childhood.

When we spend most of our young lives vying for unconditional love from a parent who never gives it, we become accustomed to and usually addicted to that pursuit.


5. The chase is the only thing that makes you happy.

On a scientific level, being with someone who is a challenge releases catecholamines (adrenaline and norepinephrine) and produces an overwhelming feeling of infatuation in us. This is an almost cocaine-like high and in abandoholics, it is this particular “high” that leads to, what feels like natural intimacy.

If any or all of these traits apply to you, do not despair. There is hope. I would recommend picking up Anderson’s book Taming The Outer Child or if you’d really like to take this tiger by the tail, go for The Abandonment Recovery Workbook also by Anderson, who has accrued thirty years of clinical practice helping those with abandoholism (so she knows of what she speaks).

RELATED: 5 Ways Your Abandonment Issues Are Ruining Your Relationship


Billy Manas is a poet, singer-songwriter, and truck driver from the Hudson Valley in New York with a degree in literature. For more, follow him on Instagram.

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