There are four known attachment styles that describe how people are in relationships. They are formed mostly because of childhood experiences, upbringing, or relationships with parents or primary caregivers. These attachment styles influence an individual’s personality, behavior, and how they deal with other people during adulthood. May it be people at work, family, friends, and even romantic relationships. Today, we will talk about the disorganized attachment style.
4 Types of Attachment Styles
Before anything else, we’ll talk about the four attachment styles and their examples. By reading this, you may have an idea of what your attachment style is.
1. Secure Attachment Style
A person with a secure attachment style has the ability to establish secure and loving relationships with other people. Most people with a secure attachment style have a happy childhood and loving parents. They easily trust others and can be trusted, they are open to the idea of love and accept love, and make friends easily.
In short, they are secure in themselves and trust other people. Study shows that 50-60% of adults possess the secure attachment style. While all the rest, have insecure attachment styles, which will be discussed below.
2. Anxious Attachment Style
Anxious attachment style is a type of insecure attachment style. It is described as having a deep fear of abandonment. People with an anxious attachment style may have an early childhood experience of being abandoned by their parents or caregivers, the reason why they have the fear of abandonment.
During adulthood, people with anxious attachment often tend to be insecure with their intimate relationships. They are afraid that their partner will leave them and always craves validation. What does this look like? Adults may appear needy, clingy, and easily get anxious worrying that their partner might leave them.
3. Avoidant Attachment Style
Another type of insecure attachment style is the avoidant attachment style, also called dismissive-avoidant attachment. Adults with avoidant attachment styles have the fear of intimacy. In short, they avoid being in intimate relationships.
As a result, they also struggle with trusting other people and can’t easily make new friends. They tend to be distant and emotionally unavailable to their partners and family. They are comfortable with being independent and do not rely on emotional gratification from others.
What’s their early childhood like? Studies show that their parents may not be physically or emotionally available to them during early childhood. They have become independent at a young age and have realized they only need themselves to be happy.
4. Fearful-Avoidant Attachment or Disorganized Attachment Style
This type of insecure attachment style combines the anxious and avoidant attachment style. This is a rare type of attachment style. People with a disorganized attachment style have an emotional craving for affection but ironically avoid it as much as possible. It’s kind of an oxymoron.
What were their experiences as a child? Their parents or caregivers may not appropriately respond to their needs. Or their parents do not acknowledge their feelings of distress. For example, when they were a child, they are in a strange situation and are in fear. They complain about it to their parents, but their feelings are shut down.
Do any of these sound familiar? What type of attachment style are you? Whatever it is, remember that you can always make changes to become a better version of yourself. If you think you have a disorganized attachment, read further and know how you can deal with this.
What Is Disorganized Attachment?
Of all the insecure attachment styles, the disorganized attachment is tagged as the extreme form. During childhood, it is commonly called a fearful-avoidant attachment style, and as an adult attachment, it is called disorganized attachment.
People with this attachment style badly want to form intimate relationships but also put up a wall around themselves because they are afraid of getting hurt by their partners. To sum it up, disorganized attachment can be described in three words: mistrust, fear, and inner conflict.
Because of these three, they may have poor coping skills during adulthood, may have erratic behavior, are unpredictable in relationships, and are anxious when forming new relationships. It makes sense why it’s called “disorganized” because they are unpredictable.
Studies show that people with disorganized attachment are at higher risk of developing mental health problems like substance abuse problems, aggressive behavior, and borderline personality disorder. But what causes this complicated type of attachment? Learn in the next part.
What Causes Disorganized Attachment?
It is thought that people with disorganized attachment may have traumatic childhood experiences. It can be emotional, physical, mental, verbal, or sexual abuse from a parent or their primary caregivers.
A child may also form a disorganized attachment by witnessing a parent harm others, another parent, or their siblings. It is said that children who grew up in this kind of environment are afraid of the person who inflicted their pain, but at the same time seek to be loved by the same person. That’s why they badly want to be loved but at the same time fears it.
That’s why it’s always important for parents to show love and affection to their children despite their busy schedules. Parents may be easily caught up by life’s hustle and bustle but instantly miss out on what matters the most: the welfare of their children.
If you’re too busy to look after your child, just at least ensure that they receive the best education or sense of belongingness at school or in daycare. By ensuring that your child is in a safe and fun environment, you’ll have the peace of mind that their emotional needs are met.
What Does Disorganized Attachment Look Like in Children?
A child with disorganized attachment appears to be ‘constantly on the edge’. It means their behavior seems to be unpredictable. They appear to be nervous, tense, or unable to relax especially when around the person that caused their pain.
This is caused by the absence of a ‘secure base’ or lack of emotional safety and security from a parent or caregiver. Furthermore, the child may manifest a mix of behaviors. They may constantly seek emotional validation, at the same time avoidant or resistant.
Signs of Disorganized Attachment in Children:
- Bullying or fighting other kids
- Appears to be extremely clingy
- Anger outbursts or tantrums
- Lacks affection to parents or caregivers
- Apathy: does not smile or no eye contact in conversations
- Other children appear to have no care because of the early childhood trauma, abuse, or unresolved emotions
Signs of Disorganized Attachment in Adults
Children who have unresolved emotional issues may bring disorganized attachment during adulthood. And this may have negative impacts on their personality and ability to form relationships. Here are the signs of disorganized attachment in an adult.
- Unpredictable emotions
- May also physically, emotionally, or verbally abuse their loved ones
- Chaotic or erratic relationships
- Finds it hard to form close relationships but has the fear of rejection
- Finds it hard to trust others because of the trauma they experienced
- Extreme want to develop close attachments but avoids it or pushes other people away
- Aggressive or hostile behavior toward the parent or caregiver that caused their pain
- Poor self-worth or negative self-image later in life
- Feelings of shamefulness or unworthiness
- Mental health issues like depression, stress, or anxiety
How to Heal From Disorganized Attachment
An adult with disorganized attachment has unresolved issues that are affecting their emotions, behavior, personality, and relationships later in life. Do you have a disorganized attachment? How do you deal with it? What are the coping mechanisms?
It may not be easy to deal with your issues from the past. It may be painful to relive your relationship and trauma with your parents or caregivers. But how can you move forward if your past still haunts you? If you’re still disorganized?
In order for you to have a healthy relationship with others, it can make sense to start having a healthy relationship with yourself. You have to heal on your own in order to have that sense of safety and security in life.
It may not be easy at first, it won’t happen overnight, you need to take it one step at a time. Do not push yourself to the limits and do what’s comfortable for you. Here are tips on how to deal with disorganized attachment.
Seek Out Professional Help
For all types of insecure attachment styles, seeking support from a counselor or therapist can help. During therapy, you get to sort your unresolved issues and talk about what you feel. Your therapist can help you make sense of bottled-up emotions and what’s causing you stress. A therapist or counselor can help you come up with solutions on how to cope.
Your therapist can help you learn how to develop a sense of safety and security with your relationships. Furthermore, your therapist can help you identify what’s causing these unhealthy attachments and help you get past them one by one. As a result of going to therapy, you can feel safe, avoid stress and avoid mental health issues.
Recognize Your Relationship Patterns
Another way to heal from any type of attachment style is to recognize what kind of relationship you had with your parents or caregivers. By recognizing what type of attachment style you have, you can easily find ways on how to cope. Remember that the first step to healing is awareness.
You can ask yourself these questions:
- How was my childhood?
- Did my parent(s) satisfy my emotional needs?
- How did I respond to how I was treated when I was a child?
- Were my parents reliable when I needed them? Or did they neglect me?
- Did I have a childhood trauma that’s affecting my behavior now?
- As a child, to whom did I feel comfort and safety when I was afraid?
Answer these questions and read back the four types of attachment styles mentioned above. Which one are you? You’ll have clarity on why are you manifesting these behaviors. You can also have clarity on why it’s hard for you to form or maintain relationships. Or why your marriage has not worked out, or why your child has resentment towards you.
Use all this information gathered and bring them up in your therapy session. Recognize how these relationship patterns with your parents have affected you now. Talk about how any of your trauma when you were a child has affected your life now as an adult. It’s never too late to turn your life around. Most importantly, fix yourself so you can fix your relationship with your partner and kids.
Develop Trusting Relationships
After you have sorted out your personal issues during therapy, you may be prepared to form trusting relationships. For adults who have a disorganized attachment style, be extra careful of who you date or settle down with.
Choose the right partner to whom you can trust and can trust you. Because if things turn for the worse, these will trigger your fears. Do not date for the sake to be in the relationship. Instead, emotionally invest in someone with whom you can develop trusting relationships.
Boost Your Self-esteem
It is important to boost your self-esteem and have a positive self-image in order for you to form trusting relationships. Learn how to love yourself so others can love you too. Start with identifying and changing your negative beliefs. Be an optimistic person no matter how heavy the burden you carry. Take care of yourself by taking breaks, self-care, and avoiding stress.
Get in Touch With Your Real Self
Insecure attachment styles develop because a disorganized person has not gotten in touch with their real self. Figure out who you are, what you want in a relationship, and what makes you happy. If you have learned to get in touch with your real self, you have finally overcome disorganized attachment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Disorganized Attachment Style Be Changed?
Yes, disorganized attachment can be changed. It will take a lot of work and practicing coping mechanisms, but over time it can be changed.
What Do Disorganized Attachment Style in Adults Look Like?
Adults with disorganized attachment may find it hard to trust themselves and others. They view their attachment figure (parent, caregiver, or partner) as unpredictable. They find it hard to believe that their partner can love, trust and support them and the other way around as well.
What Is an Example of Disorganized Attachment Style?
An example of disorganized attachment in adults is actively dating. But when the significant other confesses love, they end the relationship, then actively dates gain.
Image from Flickr by Live Life Happy
From reading all this information, it’s safe to say that disorganized attachment roots from childhood experiences. If you’re a parent who wants to avoid this in your child, be more aware of your actions. Validate their feelings, listen to what they have to say, have a healthy relationship, and spend time with them. Happy children will grow as happy adults.
If you enjoyed reading this blog and want to learn more on the best tips for your child’s upbringing, make sure to check out Brightside Academy Ohio. Brightside Academy Ohio is one of the leading daycare and childhood development centers in Ohio. Stay informed about what’s best for your child at Brightside Academy Ohio.