Pop culture makes it look so easy. In reality, it can be very tricky to find a compatible romantic partner. There are so many possible reasons why you seem stuck when it comes to relationships. This process becomes even more difficult when you yourself feel unable to commit or afraid to accept it. Surely, you must wonder why things are this way. Disorganized attachment may lie at the root of your relationship struggles.
For many, answers lie in the concept of attachment theory. At an early age, each of us learns how to interact in friendships and relationships. If these lessons do not promote a secure bond, you may struggle in adulthood — especially if your attachment style is disorganized.
What is Disorganized Attachment?
Let’s start by explaining that an healthy secure organized attachment provides security, predictability and safety to an infant or child. Their parent and/or caregiver is reliable in meeting the child’s needs. A disorganized attachment may arise if the parent/caregiver is neglectful, displays extreme insensitivity, is under chronic high stress and:
- Creates a climate of fear or intimidation
- Doesn’t provide a safe space where an exploring child can return
- Leaves the child feeling unsure
- Behaves unpredictably and inconsistently
- Ignores a baby when it cries or seeks reassurance
- Teases or mocks the child
This dysfunctional approach to parenting creates a relationship in which the child is afraid of the person it depends on for it’s survival. This attachment style is often passed down from generation to generation. The disorganized child grows into adulthood and displays the same unhealthy tendencies.
How Common Is Disorganized Attachment?
Research on disorganized attachment compiled by the National Institute of Health shows that approximately 15% of the general American Population qualifies as having a disorganized attachment style. 85% of maltreated children also do.
How Does Disorganized Attachment Impact Adult Relationships?
Adults with a disorganized attachment style want to love and be loved. However, they lean on counterproductive behaviors like:
- Not letting anyone get too emotionally close to them
- Being unwilling or unable to trust others
- Feeling unworthy of love
- Expecting rejection or abandonment
- Being unpredictable and expecting others to be unpredictable
- Choosing others with insecure attachment styles
A disorganized attachment style is tantamount to self-sabotage. You see warning signs even when they do not exist. An ugly breakup becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Being “doomed” to be alone feels like your fate. This can provoke more negative behavior — virtually guaranteeing that you will not find the commitment you crave.
Good News: You Can Change Your Disorganized Attachment Style
Most people are not aware of their attachment. Thus, few people take the necessary steps to create positive change. It’s essential to work with a therapist on this process (more about that soon). Even so, there are some self-help steps to work on as a complement, e.g.
Mindfulness and Self-Awareness
A disorganized attachment style pulls you out of the present moment. You are too often dwelling on past hurts or fearing future betrayals. A mindfulness practice roots you in the only time that truly exists: the present. In such a state, you become more self-aware. You can identify and honor your needs. Meditation is a time-proven path toward more mindfulness. Talk to your therapist for more guidance on cultivating this life-altering skill.
Changing your attachment style is NOT an easy or quick task. Be patient with yourself. Also, practice patience with dealing with others. Your disorganized past has created many triggers but you do not have to react. That choice is yours.
Give yourself the nurturing love you need. This will help you prepare to accept it from others. Treat yourself with care and respect. Create daily routines related to healthy eating, regular sleep patterns, and physical activity.
Talk to a Mental Health Professional
In essence, disorganized attachment arises from a parent- child relationship that is frightening, or neglectful. If you had a high stress home life in your family of origin, then it’s important to get trauma informed care. If you seek help from a therapist it’s best to work with someone who has a strong trauma treatment background.
Your weekly sessions can help you:
- Stop taking everything personally
- Increase your self-worth
- Practice being assertive when setting healthy boundaries
- Avoid manipulation
- Gain increased control of your emotions
If you want to heal from your disorganized attachment and your past, I would love to connect with you. Please read more about trauma therapy and contact me for a confidential consultation. Let’s get you moving on the path to recovery and lasting romance.