What Is Disorganized Attachment And How It Can Ruin Your Relationships

What Is Disorganized Attachment

Attachment enables us to build connections with our parents and build relationships as adults. Unfortunately, people with disorganized or disoriented attachment tend to develop insecure connections and have highly inconsistent behavior. They have difficulty trusting others and may develop certain mental conditions, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress symptoms, borderline personality disorder (BPD) and substance abuse. This style of attachment is also associated with the development of psychopathology. One 2016 study has found that people with such insecure attachment are more likely to develop personality disorders (PDs), like borderline, antisocial and histrionic personality disorders. Studies also show that children with fearful-avoidant attachment have maladaptive behavior patterns and externalizing behavior problems.

Related: How Parents Cause Mental Health Problems In Children

Effect on relationships in adulthood

Disorganized attachment styles can negatively affect a person’s relationships in their adulthood. As the person has experienced fearful-avoidant attachment from their childhood, they follow similar patterns in their adult lives. Their intimate relationships become riddled with irrationality as they have a strong desire to feel loved and love their romantic partner, yet they remain too fearful of closeness with anyone. This is their way of protecting themselves as they are wired to believe that loved ones will abuse and hurt them. According to a 2017 study, people who are avoidant in relationships tend to have negative views of their intimate partners.Avoidant people strive to create and maintain independence, control, and autonomy in their relationships because they believe that seeking psychological/emotional proximity to romantic partners is either not possible or undesirable,” explains the study. As a result, these individuals utilize certain distancing & coping strategies to protect themselves from getting hurt. 

What Is Disorganized Attachment And How It Can Ruin Your Relationships
What Is Disorganized Attachment And How It Can Ruin Your Relationships

An adult individual with disorganized or disoriented attachment avoids intimacy & proximity, even if they may seek close relationships. In romantic relationships, they expect disappointment, rejection, abandonment and emotional pain as part of the deal and hence, tend to become insecure, needy and doubtful. They may be afraid of emotional intimacy even when that is exactly what they want. Even in their adulthood, they believe that their partners or the attachment figure cannot be trusted and will respond to their needs in an unpredictable manner. They find it hard to believe that their partner can actually be loving, caring and supportive and this attitude can lead to self-sabotaging behaviors leading to multiple failed romantic relationships or even friendships. They themselves turn their distorted perceptions into reality even when their partners are truly loving. Disorganized adults tend to be pessimistic and have negative views of themselves, other people and the world. Hence, it can also negatively affect their social skills and interactions as well.

Related: How Your Attachment Style Affects Your Relationship

Coping with disorganized attachment style

If you or your child has a fearful-avoidant attachment style, then life can be seriously challenging. You may want to connect with others but you don’t know how to and your fear keeps you from learning ways to build healthy relationships. Not only can it affect your intimate relationships and social interactions, it can even lead to serious mental health problems in the long run. Moreover, being in a relationship with a person with this attachment style can also be difficult as they lack trust and behave unpredictably.

However, there are ways to heal and change your attachment style. The most effective and prominent way to start your healing journey is to consult and talk to a therapist. Research shows that psychotherapy can significantly help in changing attachment patterns. Psychotherapy or talk therapy can help you identify your negative thought and behavior patterns and teach you ways to develop healthy ways to build better connections. A therapist will listen to you in a non-judgmental, calm and accepting way in a safe place. But it is important that you trust your therapist.

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Theo Harrison

Hey there! I am just someone trying to find my way through life. I am a reader, writer, traveler, fighter, philosopher, artist and all around nice guy. I am outdoor person but heavily into technology, science, psychology, spiritualism, Buddhism, martial arts and horror films. I believe in positive action more than positive thinking.View Author posts