Open Relationship and Inclusive Dating Blog

How to Handle Fear of Abandonment in Open Relationships

unhappy couple

Open relationships continue to grow in popularity. There a way for couples to explore romance with more variety. They can introduce adventure into a relationship that’s lacking fun. But they are a relationship and like any relationship, they can certainly bring about emotional challenges.

It’s important to manage emotions and address these challenges in an open relationship. In fact, it’s the core driver of open relationship success.

Let’s examine one of the single biggest emotional challenges and how to best deal with it so you and yours can thrive.

Fear of Abandonment

Fear of abandonment is one of the biggest emotional challenges in nearly all types of relationships. In an open relationship, the introduction of new romantic connections into the mix can escalate these feelings if we don’t navigate them properly.

Fear of abandonment manifest in an open relationship in an obvious way: Someone new enters the picture and one person begins to feel that they’ll lose their core lover to this person.

There are a number of indicators that fear of abandonment is setting in, including increased anxiety, clinginess, and a constant need for reassurance. The problem here is that these signs are also items which equally cause strain in the current relationship. This means that while one person is experiencing fear of abandonment, the partner is missing that part and simply grows frustrated with their partner. So the issue compounds for both partners.

Fear of abandonment is rooted in a number of things. One of its roots is childhood experiences that lead to attachment needs. Past relationship traumas and betrayals are high on the list as well. And sometimes, it comes down to cultural and societal influences. The point is, there’s no easy solve.

If you’re someone experiencing fear of abandonment, here’s some things you can do to help. If you’re the partner who’s trying to figure out why your relationship is growing sour, maybe you should consider fear of abandonment as well. Understanding how to cope with it is essential in moving forward in the relationship.

Strategies Addressing Fear of Abandonment

You need to get to the root causes of it.

Digging Deep

A little self-reflection and awareness can go a long ways. Identify what is triggering the abandonment fear issues. Are there patterns? If you’re the partner of someone with the issue, do you notice it more before or after you have new experiences? Same question if you’re the one who is experiencing the issue.

One reason why digging deep is tough is because sometimes in the open relationship community we might feel shame over feelings of jealousy or abandonment. It can make us seem weak. Because it always appears that everyone else in the open relationship lifestyle are having the times of their lives. But we’re all humans. We all face emotional challenges.

Everyone will face tough emotional times and they’ll choose to ignore them, or deal with them head on. The faster you deal with them, the faster you’ll get to the better side of the situation.

Its OK to feel emotions about your partner being with someone else. No one said being in an open relationship is only for robots. You’re a human. Express your fears and concerns openly and honestly. That’s part of the journey.

Ask for reassurance from your partner. And partner who’s with someone going through this, reassure them. Its a two way street.


I don’t think we’ve written an open relationship blog that doesn’t include communication as a key decider of success. And that redundancy is OK because it’s always true. If you want to experience the open relationship lifestyle, you’ll most definitely need to become your best communicator self.

Its important to develop mutual strategies for communicating comfortably and openly.

There’s a few great ways to achieve this:

Active Listening

Learn the art of active listening, it will save not only your open relationship, but work and family relationships. This means fully concentrating, understanding, and responding in a thoughtful way.

Its also important to validate each others feelings. Avoid gas lighting.


Collaboration is key to establishing boundaries which respect both partners’ needs and comfort levels. Discuss what’s acceptable and isn’t acceptable in various scenarios.


We touched on this earlier, but reassurance is a critical component to helping resolve issues with abandonment. Use words and actions to show that your partner is valued and prioritized.

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

The fear of abandonment is a very real issue faced by many open relationship couples. Its totally natural and nothing to be ashamed of. At the same time, its something you must actively face as a team. You’ll overcome it in due time with a little emotional investment.