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Recognizing and Understanding a Disordered Attachment Style

Would you say you are secure in the way you form your relationships? Whether they are familial, platonic, or romantic, would you say you trust the people around you and are comfortable being vulnerable with them? Are you also comfortable being alone, should they happen to be busy? Do you know how to communicate with them clearly and seek support from them if you need it?

If you don’t, then your attachment style, the way you form your relationships, might be insecure. There are different types of insecure attachments, and one of them is the disordered attachment style, also known as the fearful-avoidant style. It’s the most uncommon type of attachment, and perhaps the most contradictory one.

Contradictory Attachment Style

If your attachment style is disordered, you might find yourself pushing people away, despite wanting to be close to them. You want intimacy, want to be close to your family, friends, to your partner, but you can’t.

You find it near impossible to let anyone in, no matter how many times you try to reach out.

Internal Struggles

It’s not anyone’s fault that you can’t seem to open up to others. You just struggle a lot with yourself. You can’t manage to feel safe within a relationship, you struggle with low self-esteem and self-worth. Regulating your emotions is difficult: you act upon whatever emotion you feel without taking a moment to think about how appropriate your reaction is.

couple holding hands walking on beach at sunsetNegative Expectations

The reason for this is that you expect to be disappointed. You try to open up to someone, but you keep waiting for them to leave you. You think you’re bound to end up disappointed, end up hurt, so why wait for it to happen? Why not leave while you still can? You yearn for a connection but you expect it to go wrong at some point, and that shows in the way you interact with others, even if you try to hide it.

Anxiety, fear of rejection, and difficulty trusting others are behind these expectations. But where did these come from in the first place?

Unreliable Caregivers

A disordered attachment style tends to be a result of abuse or neglect, usually during childhood. Your caregivers, who were supposed to be a source of comfort and reassurance, were also a source of fear. As a result, you’re used to wanting comfort and love from someone, but also being scared of them, because you know exactly how scary the people you love can be.

But the reason why this attachment style speaks to you might not be a result of caregiver abuse. Your caregivers are not the only people in your life with the ability to abuse you. If you’ve had a similar experience to this, once in which the person you loved could also be scary, then that might be why you’ve ended up with a disordered attachment style.

Gaining Security

In all likelihood, your attachment style will change. It happens to everyone: our attachment style changes depending on our life experiences. Attachment styles are made of different behaviors, and behavior can be unlearned, can be changed and switched for better ones.

It’s a slow process, but it’s possible.

So, if you recognized yourself while reading this, and you want to work on changing your behaviors, you might want to seek professional help. The first step in dealing with a disordered attachment style is to begin by opening up to a single person. Counseling can provide you with a person that you can trust and that can help you figure out how to form stronger connections with other people.

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable isn’t easy. It’s something you learn, something you practice over and over. If this is something you’re interested in, then schedule an appointment with us. We’ll do our best to help you form the connections you want and deserve through couples counseling or family counseling.