More likely than not, someone in your life was deeply hurt by people in their past, which has made them an extremely guarded individual.
This friend/significant other/family member of yours, though you may not know what happened to them, shows signs of insecurity and neediness when it comes to relationships. They may have mentioned or even joked about how they are worried that at any moment, you will become uninterested and leave them. You may think to yourself, “Why? I have given them no reason to think I would ever hurt them. Why can't they just trust me?" You have to try to understand, if they could trust you, they would. You must know, in classic break-up line fashion, it's not actually about you at all. Truthfully, this person was hurt so badly in the past by someone who was supposed to be in their life forever, that they find it difficult to let people in now.
Though they are aware that their constant fear of being left is not the fault of those who are still in their lives, letting go of the paranoia of abandonment is not an easy task.
But! This piece isn't meant to make everyone all down in the dumps. Several ways exist to help your friend realize you aren't going anywhere.
It is important to realize people who have been abandoned have most assuredly been lied to at some point in their lives. Some people are told: “I'll always love you, no matter what." or “Nothing you do will make me love you any less." Then, something happens and that comforting statement becomes a lie. As a result, that person is left out in the cold, deserted by the ones who promised they would always be there for them.
Take note: trust is a huge thing for someone with abandonment issues to give you! If you say words like “I love you," and they pull away, don't say it back, or get a weird look on their face, it's not because they don't love you in return. It is because they don't believe you. As frustrating as it may be, in order for someone who has been abandoned to drop their guard and let you in, you need to be persistent. If this is a worthwhile relationship and you want to make it work, then the person you're pursuing is going to need constant reassurance of your feelings. You're going to have to prove you value them and care for them. It won't work to simply just say reassuring statements once or twice and then move on. They need to see that they can trust you. You need to show them that they can trust you.
I know this can be an extremely taxing strain on the relationship, but it takes time for someone with trust issues to believe anything you say. Remember, they may have been told their entire lives by someone they cherished that they would always be loved, and then the person making the promises left them.
Validating the opinion of your friend is a huge step in the right direction. Occasionally, tell them things you like about them. What do they do that makes you smile? What do they do that gives them worth? What value and benefits do they bring to your life? Let them know. Don't just assume they know. If they don't hear from you, they aren't going to hear it from anyone. If they aren't validated by you, they will question the relationship and most likely leave it prematurely because they thought you just didn't care.
If there is one thing people with abandonment issues are good at, though, it's leaving people. This statement sounds ironic, but since this person has been so scarred by their past, they are extremely guarded and good at not letting people see the real them. If you are at the beginning stages of a relationship with an abandoned person, then you know how hard it is to get their guard down.
This person has been extremely hurt before, and they don't want to be hurt again. If your relationship is rocky, they will pull away out of fear of being left. In some cases, they pull away first so they can be the ones in control of the relationship because they have never felt in control of what happened to them in the past. Or if you two do split apart for some reason, and you think they are taking it well, it could be that they are hiding their hurt, or that they just never let themselves get close to you. People with abandonment issues want nothing more than to feel close to those they love, but they also have a fortress around them that only allows certain people in after ample time and effort.
People with abandonment issues despise being vulnerable. Just keep that in mind when it comes time to talk about the past. You may willingly give lots of information about your life story; they may not. In some cases, being left is a huge part of their past and the painful topic is difficult for them to talk about with anyone. Be understanding and loving, and eventually they'll tell you their story.
I know this hasn't been the most uplifting of articles, but I'm hoping it helps you understand your friends and loved ones around you. They do want to love you, to show their love in return and to let you in, but they struggle with these actions. This is something you're going to have to deal with and be patient about. Be extremely patient! Because once you become a friend of someone with abandonment issues, and they trust you enough to let you in, you have made a friend for life. A friend who will stick by your side until the end. Trust me, it's worth the work to get to know someone who will truly love you for who you are and never leave.