Could You Have A Disorganized Attachment Style?

When it comes to relationships, everyone has their own approach based on past relationships and preconceived notions. And if you've been on social media recently, you've likely come across one of the thousands of accounts dishing out romantic advice. From how to spruce up your Hinge bio to videos on how to spot red flags on first dates -– it seems there's a lot of information out there about how to hack your dating life. And while there are some truly bad advice and relationship experts online, there are some trending topics out there worth starting a conversation about. There are many factors and experiences that influence your ability to form healthy relationships with others; and one of the biggest topics of conversation has been attachment styles.

Attachment theory is a widely recognized and respected psychological theory that can give you some serious insight into your own psyche. Based on the attachment style you have, you have certain needs and desires based on the experiences you had in earlier life. As therapist Jacquelyn Tenaglia explains on Twitter, there's little you can do to control which attachment style you have. "Attachment styles are adaptive responses to how our needs were met (or not) as children — they aren't set in stone, but they can be stubborn." If you've been struggling with relationship problems or you're looking to build stronger, healthier connections -– it's important to learn how to spot the difference in attachment styles.

What are attachment styles?

Attachment styles are our way of interacting with people who are closest to us. There are four main types of attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized. The theory comes from two researchers, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, whose work in the 1950s set the foundation for modern-day attachment theory. "Essentially, an attachment style is the way in which a person relates to others in relationships," Dr. Lindsay Henderson, PsyD, tells Women's Health. Experts agree that attachment styles between yourself and your partner can be a huge indicator of how the relationship will play out. And while attachment theory does seem to come up most often when people think about dating and romantic relationships, it's important to mention that your attachment style can influence your platonic relationships as well.

Patterns of attachment are set in early childhood and set the tone for all future relationships. "Attachment theory suggests that we create an internal working model of our parents that we later internalize as our own sense of self. This attachment style also affects how we experience ourselves, and, in turn, how we are in relationships," clinical psychologist Rebecca Bergen, Ph.D., tells Brides. All that said, your attachment style isn't meant to discourage you from ever putting yourself out there. Humans are very complex creatures, and attachment styles are just a small part of figuring out how to make things work with your special someone.

What is a disorganized attachment style?

Of all the attachment styles, disorganized attachment style is the rarest of the four types to have — about 5% of the population has this attachment style, per Thrive. Experts typically refer to disorganized attachment style as falling somewhere between the other two insecure styles: anxious and avoidant. With this attachment style, there is a strong desire for intimate connections but a fear of being hurt which results in periods of withdrawal and isolation. "They become hot and cold in relationships because they have an extreme desire for connection, but at the same time they don't trust it, so they reject it. They have deep trust issues and fear of enmeshment from violations in childhood," therapist Nabill Zafir tells HelloGiggles.

Disorganized attachment is a form of insecure attachment that occurs when a child is raised in an unstable environment. Although various factors contribute to disorganized attachment, some of the major ones include abuse, neglect, and/or household dysfunction (via NPR). Due to a combination of these and other circumstances, the child doesn't see the parent as a secure base because they cannot get their emotional or physical needs met. People who grow up with this attachment style find themselves confused in adulthood because they crave close romantic connections but find it difficult to be vulnerable. "They long for a sense of belonging, connection, and love — but on the flip side they are afraid to trust and let others in," psychotherapist Marni Feuerman, PsyD, LCSW, tells Insider.

How to deal with a disorganized attachment style

Having an anxious attachment style does not mean you're broken or undeserving of loving relationships. Rather, it's an opportunity to look at the ways in which your past trauma might be influencing your current relationships. Once you've identified your attachment style as disorganized–you can begin looking at ways to live with it in a more productive way. "Developing a secure attachment style takes a LOT of introspection, releasing, forgiving, unlearning, learning and so much more. Most important thing to note though is that it's definitely possible," licensed therapist Shahem M shared on Twitter. In fact, one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself in this process is taking steps to practice self-compassion and give yourself grace.

One of the most important steps to take in creating a more secure attachment style is forming healthy relationships with a romantic partner, a friend, or a therapist over an extended period of time. This process allows the person with a disorganized attachment style to rebuild their trust in other people and break the cycle they might otherwise find themselves repeating. "You need someone consistent, available, reliable, responsive, and predictable," psychiatrist Amir Levine tells Harper's BAZAAR. He goes on to explain how these lines of communication and bonds of trust take time to build, so don't get discouraged if things seem worse before they get better. A trustworthy partner will be patient and understanding as the pair of you work together to build an open and trusting relationship.