Partner separation anxiety

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Robert Maurer

Partner separation anxiety

Some people cannot stay away from their partner even for a day. The level of attachment is so intense and distorted that in the event of a breakup the effects could be emotionally devastating. Let's analyze the situation.

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 15 November 2022

Any love breakup hurts, to a greater or lesser extent. In some cases, the end of a relationship can even be experienced in a pathological way. This is what happens to people who have based their relationship on one absolute emotional dependence and suffering from a problem known as separation anxiety from the partner.

Until recently, separation anxiety was relegated to the childhood world to describe those children who experience severe pain when they are away from their parents. Going to school, seeing parents go to work or even sleeping generate extreme levels of anxiety and distress and this is often a direct consequence of an educational model based on overprotection.

Despite this, this fear, this desperation that comes from seeing oneself far from the reference figures can extend well beyond childhood and adolescence. There are, in fact, many adults who live the same distress devastating when they see that their love relationship is about to end.

Excessive anxiety, fears, psychosomatic symptoms, insomnia, constant worry… They were very vulnerable states that require a particular psychological approach. Let's see in detail what it is.

Partner separation anxiety: symptoms, origin, strategies

When you love your partner, even being away from him for a few days hurts. However, there are those who experience this feeling in a more intense and even traumatic way.

Evolutionary psychologists affirm that the couple bond today has assumed the same importance as that established between parents and children. In fact, it provides for the activity of the same neurochemicals: oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine.

Lisa Diamond, a social psychologist at the University of Utah, tells us in a research study that there are many similarities between parent-child relationships and couple relationships. We need the closeness of the person we love; we listen to her, we take care of her, we care for her and for her well-being. Sometimes, however, this attachment is unhealthy and becomes so obsessive that it creates harmful dynamics.

These are scenarios dominated by separation anxiety from the partner, favored above all by a brain that processes this experience as a threat, as traumatic. The release of cortisol is immense and with it emerges a very wide range of physical and psychological symptoms.

Partner separation anxiety, what exactly is it?

It is common to experience anxiety, but when this state lasts over time and is accompanied by specific characteristics, it is a separation anxiety disorder.

This condition falls into the group of anxiety disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). It manifests itself with the following symptoms:

  • Strong anxiety and stress.
  • Repeated attempts to recover contact and relationship.
  • The end of the relationship is not accepted.
  • Immense suffering and inability to mourn caused by the end of the relationship.
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Inability to lead daily life normally, to the point of not going to work.
  • Eating disorders (excessive ingestion of food or loss of appetite).
  • Psychosomatic diseases: gastric disorders, stomach pain, headache, etc.

What is the cause?

The reactions at the end of a relationship can be disparate. There are those who face it better and those who take a little longer to overcome it; in the end, a small part remains attached to a pathological and exhausting condition.

This is the case for people who suffer from separation anxiety from partners, men and women alike they tend to have very specific featuresThese are:

  • Dependent personality. These people base the report on a excessive and excessive attachment to the partner. In the most extreme cases we speak of a dependent personality disorder, a behavior defined by the excessive need for protection.
  • Borderline Disorder. In these cases the person fears of being abandoned and this pathological fear causes problems and disagreements. The breakup is experienced in a particularly traumatic way.
  • People who have developed a morbid attachment to their parents since childhood. The parent-child bond is defined by restlessness, insecurity, need for possession and codependency, which will be reflected in the sentimental relationship.

How to intervene on separation anxiety from the partner?

The therapeutic approach for managing partner separation anxiety varies from case to case. The situation changes if the person has an attachment problem or borderline personality disorder. In most cases, however, Cognitive-behavioral therapy is useful for several reasons:

  • It helps the individual to acquire management skills to tame anxiety.
  • It favors the management of bereavement due to the breakup.
  • The person is trained in the acquisition of emotional, relational and self-esteem skills.
  • We work on different aspects to avoid building any bond on emotional dependence.

Even if the end of a relationship is never easy, it is not advisable to react in an extreme way. Taking a passive attitude and letting sadness and the rearview mirror with a view of memories devour us is the worst choice. We do not hesitate to ask for the help of an expert.

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