Love and relationship: fear of loss and how to deal with it – coach heike klopsch

Relationship counselor: "Fears of loss are not only a burden on the affected persons themselves, but also on their partners"

  • People with fear of loss suffer greatly in relationships – and they also become a burden for their partners.
  • It is not uncommon for those affected to end up with people who can hardly bear the associated need for closeness, says relationship and separation coach Heike Klopsch.
  • The roots of the fear of being abandoned often lie in childhood, she explains in an RND interview.

It is more than the fear of being abandoned: Fear of loss makes sufferers constantly believe that their partner will stop loving them as soon as they are away from them. Even if there is actually no concrete reason for such fears. Relationship and separation coach Heike Klopsch often deals with sufferers who struggle with these fears in relationships. Among other things, they seek advice in their Hamburg practice Herzkummerei because their daily carousel of thoughts about their partner is getting out of hand. In an interview with RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND), Klopsch explains how fears of loss put a strain on relationships – and how couples can deal with them.

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Ms. Klopsch, "Why doesn’t she answer me??" or "Does he still love me?" are questions that people with fears of loss just won’t let go of. What do these thoughts trigger in them?

They become especially restless, nervous, and sometimes panicky. At the beginning of the relationship, fear of loss usually does not play such a big role, because couples in this phase still perceive everything as wonderful and problem-free. But after six to nine months at the latest, the hot infatuation phase is over – and then people with loss fears become increasingly insecure. Often these fears express themselves in their behavior: Those affected virtually bombard their partner with cell phone messages in order to reach them by any means possible and thus to calm their own feelings of panic. If their partners do not respond, however, they quickly regain a great fear of loss. Then they reproach their partner for not giving enough attention and love. People with loss anxiety only do well when they spend time with their partner. Therefore, they want to restore closeness at all costs when they are absent.

What does that do to the relationship??

One thing is clear: fear of loss is not only a burden for the people affected, but also for their partners. Because some people can not cope with this excessive need for closeness. They feel oppressed by these messages and this desire for contact. This also has a lot to do with the type of relationship you have. People with loss anxiety usually belong to the anxious-insecure relationship types who need a lot of reassurance and attention from their partner. The problem is that anxious relationship types very often fall in love with autonomous relationship types who do not want this closeness at all.

Anxious relationship types often find this autonomy extremely sexy – because it is something they lack.

Why is it that these types of relationships often end up together??

Anxious relationship types often find this autonomy extremely sexy – because it’s something they lack. Thus, they also specifically seek this independence and self-determination in their partners. Conversely, the autonomous relationship type also finds it relatively nice at first when his better half gives him a lot of attention – after all, he usually lacks this closeness to others and therefore finds it appealing. But at some point, this can become too much for very autonomous people, and then the dance starts: They want to keep their autonomy and withdraw because they feel oppressed. This in turn reinforces the fear of loss in the partner, who seeks all the more closeness.

Fear of loss can therefore be detrimental to a relationship. Why do some people actually have to struggle with them much more than others??

To find out where this anxious attachment style comes from, you have to travel back to childhood. Because attachment styles are shaped quite subconsciously in our first years of life. With my clients, for example, I look at how the relationship with the father or mother was – this is called genogram work.

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What insights can you gain from genogram work?

With a client who is now 30 years old, we worked through her relationship with her mother via this genogram work. It has become clear that as a child she received little attention and love from her mother. She was not really wanted by her mother – the desire to have a child came more from her father. The mother went back to work immediately after giving birth and had no time for the child. So the child just stood next to her mother’s desk and wasn’t allowed to be loud or demand anything because otherwise her mother would be annoyed. She was rather emotionally distant towards her child. Through this, my client has learned that she only experiences love when she functions and conforms.

Many people with a fear of loss literally give themselves up to chase after their partner.

And she has probably taken this pattern with her into adulthood and thus into the relationship.

Correct. They still believe that their own feelings and needs do not matter. Many people with a fear of loss also sometimes formally give themselves up in order to chase after their partner and be with them. After all, they want to do everything to get love. In the process, they often neglect their friends and make their behavior increasingly dependent on their partner. They constantly ask themselves "What would my partner like??" instead of "What would I like now?" – and thus also distance themselves from themselves. This self-sacrifice is very unhealthy.

What consequences can this have for those affected??

The self-esteem of the affected person, which is usually not very strong anyway, suffers from this. A lack of self-esteem is usually even at the core of the problem. If those affected adapt too much in their relationships, this can lead to the fact that at some point they no longer even know their own needs. Perhaps they have never known them because they always had to conform as a child. And thus they have never learned to perceive their own emotions.

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Affected people therefore have many deep-seated construction sites. What can help them cope better with fears of loss??

If thoughts constantly revolve around the partner, it helps to look inward and find your way back to yourself in your mind as well. This can be achieved through meditation, for example, but also through other mindfulness exercises and yoga. The goal is for them to come to peace inside and above all to strengthen their self-esteem. And they should definitely cultivate their own friendships and interests. Unfortunately, it is often the case that people with a fear of loss increasingly distance themselves from their friendships and hobbies because they adapt too much to their partner. Nevertheless, it is important to consciously maintain your own friendships, family and hobbies – because autonomy strengthens self-esteem.

Closeness does not automatically mean that autonomy is lost.

Surely, however, it is not an easy task for people with loss anxiety to become more autonomous after a long period of self-sacrifice and adaptation.

Yes, it takes a lot of time and practice. Therefore, you should also start with their needs: They must first learn and accept that they have needs. In the relationship it is then necessary to express these needs. The important thing here is not to reproach your partner, but to formulate your needs with "I" messages. For example: ‘I need more closeness than you might want to give me – but that doesn’t mean that I want to constrict you. It would help me if you told me more often that you love me and find me attractive.’

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