The Fear of Being Abandoned

Sixth of 11 articles on high conflict people in church. Previous article: The Fear of Being Ignored

Some high conflict people are driven by the deep and profound fear of being abandoned. They are afraid that the people in their lives will leave, they will be left alone and their whole world will collapse.

They typically master a range of manipulative behaviors such as clinging, controlling, bullying, seduction, gaslighting, emotional abuse and blackmail and more.

Their moods swing as they are confronted by these fears. Sometimes the mood swings are wild and extreme. Their emotional state can change in an instant. They are inclined to bouts of anger and great inconsolable sadness, but even these episodes may only last for hours or at most a few days.

Their motto is, “I hate you, don’t leave me.”

They are inclined to impulsive and self-destructive behaviors. These may include drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, spending, reckless driving and eating disorders.

They are given to aggression and even violence. This can include verbal abuse, litigation, even physical violence. They may devise and act out plots of revenge.

Their motto is, “I hate you, don’t leave me.” They are full of fury and anger, but they can’t let go. The death of NFL quarterback Steve McNair is a vivid illustration of this.

In 2009 McNair was married and having two extramarital affairs. He had recently broken off with his first mistress but was still helping her financially. She was angry that he had a second mistress.

While he was sitting up asleep on the couch his first mistress shot him 4 times. Then she sat next to him and shot herself falling into his arms and forever embraced. “I hate you, don’t leave me.”

These people will come to pastors for validation. They will attempt to build bonds with you that are too intense on one hand and never enough on the other. They will try to seduce you to keep you close. But even seduction and an intimate relationship will not be enough for them. And, of course, it will destroy your work, ministry, family and church.

For the pastor, it is important that these people will idealize you and then reject you. At first you will be seen as all good and without flaw and then after you have disappointed them or triggered their deepest fear, you become, for them all bad. The embodiment of evil. This process is called splitting.

Next Steps: Do you have someone in your life or in your church that you find yourself being extra careful around? Do you avoid them because of their emotional intensity? Are you walking on eggshells afraid you will displease them and then suffer their wrath?

Is there someone who overly admires you? Or who once admired you and now is critical or contemptuous of every little thing?

Next Article: The Fear of Being Belittled

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