Separation Anxiety in Teenage Relationships​

Written by: Ankita Kathad – MA (Psychology)

Last updated date : December 28, 2022

Johnny is having sleepless nights for many days. He has to leave home in a few days. The thought of leaving is making him anxious and scared. He shudders at the thought of leaving his family and friends. He refuses to be alone even for a while. You may think that Johnny is a typical five-year-old child who fears separation. However, Johnny is fifteen years old and suffering from separation anxiety. While this condition is very common in toddlers, teenagers can face it too. This article explores separation anxiety in teenage relationships and obsessive teenage relationships.

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Chapter 1:

What Is Separation Anxiety?

This, a person gets anxious when they are separated from their loved ones. Most of us get sad when we go away from our loved ones. However, when a person has separation worry, even the thought of going away worries them. It can make them cry or even avoid the event. It causes significant distress. Here are some common symptoms of separation anxiety.
  1. Refusing to go away from loved ones. This is due to fear of separation.
  2. Constantly thinking of what will happen during and after separation
  3. Preoccupation with thoughts of separation. For instance, the person will think of events like accidents or the kidnapping of loved ones.
  4. Nightmares of separation.
  5. Not wanting to be alone at all.
  6. Complaints of headaches, stomachaches, or other pain as the time of separation nears.
This type of fear is common in toddlers and even healthy. It is a sign of healthy attachment to an extent. Children need to be close to their caregivers. This is why the thought of going away can scare them. Moreover, children also depend on caregivers for many things. Therefore their fear is very valid and genuine.

Chapter 2:

What Leads to Separation Anxiety in Teenage Relationships?

As toddlers grow, the fear of going away from parents reduces. This is because they have many other things to deal with in life. Their dependency also comes down. Their lives revolve more around school and friends. Therefore it is less common to see separation fear in teenagers. There can be many reasons for this worry. Some of it can be related to genetics while some of it could be due to life events. Genetics is a common cause of many mental conditions. If a child’s parents are too worrisome, they can pick up that trait from them. Apart from this, some children are also born with a temperament that makes them more anxious compared to others. This temperament can lead to a worrisome personality.

An insecure attachment with parents can also lead to this condition in the teenage years. Lack of warmth or unresponsive parenting can also cause separation fear in teenagers. Additionally, parents who are too caring can make the children dependent on them. This can cause fear of separation in the future. Additionally, some situations or events can lead to separation fear. When a child has gone through a trauma, they may fear going away from loved ones. For instance, if their pet was run over by a car in childhood or if they lost a loved one in a calamity.

Sometimes, the teen can be very attached to something and abruptly leave it. This sudden change can also lead to fear of separation.

Teenagers may find it hard to talk about their fears. They may not feel comfortable sharing their feelings because it can make them look ‘uncool’. Moreover, their separation anxiety is often neglected as teenage ‘angst’.

Here’s What Separation Anxiety in a Teenage Relationship May Look Like
In teenagers, the symptoms can be similar to children. However, this worry can manifest in their other relationships too such as romantic relationships. That is to say that a teenager can get worried at the thought of going away from friends or partners. They may even show this type of anxiety when separated from their parents.
  1. Teenagers can often refuse school or show avoidant behaviors. They may refuse to attend a school or remain there. They may feel an urge to go back home.
  2. Teenagers will stay indoors for a very long time and insist that their parents and siblings stay close.
  3. They will wake up in the night complaining of nightmares.
  4. They will get sad or depressed if either of the parents leaves. This can even happen when a parent goes to work.
  5. Teenagers will refuse to attend college trips or go out with friends.
Separation worry in teenager’s romantic relationships can manifest in the following ways:
  1. Teenagers will not let go of their partners quickly. They will feel worried when their partner goes home.
  2. They will panic if their partner doesn’t pick up their call.
  3. The thought of their partner going away can make them sick.
  4. They will keep checking with their partner on calls or after school.
  5. They will get worried if there is a fight or any mention of the partner leaving.
  6. Moreover, they will get worried if their partner has other friends.
  7. They will start panicking if the partner is absent or sick.

Chapter 3:

Obsessive Teenage Relationships

Often separation worry can lead to issues such as obsessive teenage relationships. Extreme fear of losing a person can lead to clinginess. Teenagers can get obsessed with their loved ones. It can mean that they are extremely possessive of their loved ones. They will not want to share their loved ones with anyone. This obsession stems from the fear of losing loved ones.

The obsessed teenager may want to spend maximum time with the one they fear losing. Obsessive teenage relationships have its root in separation anxiety where the teenager cannot bear the thought of losing their loved ones. They feel that if they let their loved ones go away from their sight, they might lose them.

An obsessed teenager may not give freedom to their partner or caregiver to go out of their field of inspection. They may constantly check upon them to make sure that they are with them. Moreover, the teenager may get extremely worried if the loved ones move away.

Obsessive teenage relationships can harm a child’s development in many ways. Obsession on part of the teenagers will irritate their loved ones. Romantic partners of the teenager may feel suffocated. They may want to leave. This will further create stress in the mind of the teenager.

Additionally, teenagers can have problems in relationships as adults. They may not be able to have a stable relationship because they are always fearful of losing their partners. This can make them controlling.

Separation anxiety in teenage relationships can affect a child’s development in many ways. Overdependency can have a spillover effect in adulthood. Teenagers may become clingy and over-dependent on their partners. They have a chance of developing a panic disorder or other anxiety disorders. Seeking an expert’s help can be helpful. Moreover, the teenage years are a time to become independent. These years prepare you for your future.

This condition, if persists, can lead to social anxiety. At Epsychonline some courses help you overcome several mental conditions such as social anxiety. Courses like DBT For Social Anxiety can help you understand the causes of anxiety and the cure for it. There are many articles that give a clear picture of separation anxiety. Do check them out.

"Structured and engaging course" Joan

69 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount