What is an attachment disorder in adulthood?
An attachment disorder is present when an adult is unable to maintain a close relationship primarily from attachment problems, such as having an insecure or avoidant attachment style.
Attachment Disorder In Adults
1-Types of Attachment Styles.
There are four different attachment styles, secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized. However, to simplify things, I'm going to clump them into two categories, secure and insecure. Someone who has a secure attachment style is comfortable with closeness, intimacy, and connection, and they trust others easily. Someone with an insecure attachment style is the opposite. They struggle with closeness and feel uncomfortable with intimacy and connection, and they mistrust others. Therefore, what type of attachment style you have will greatly impact how you connect or don't connect with your partner.
2-Causes of Attachment Styles.
Our attachment style comes from our family of origin. Attachment theory says the child who has at least one primary caregiver tuning into and responding to their signals sensitively and consistently will develop a sense of trust. They will feel like the world is a safe place, and therefore develop a secure attachment. That child will grow up and take that style with them into their adult relationships and feel comfortable with connection and closeness because they received it growing up. In contrast, if a child doesn't have a primary caregiver tuning into their signals sensitively and consistently they're going to develop a sense of mistrust and an insecure attachment style. They will feel like people are not safe. That child will grow up and take their attachment disorder into their adult relationships and struggle with connection and closeness because it wasn't modeled for them growing up.
There are a variety of reasons why some parents aren't attentive primary caregivers. One reason is because they were raised with an insecure attachment style themselves so they are repeating how they were raised. Another reason is they may be under the influence of substances or have mental health issues and are therefore unable to tune into their child's signals sensitively and consistently.
3-Impact of Attachment Styles.
If you have a secure attachment style, you're going to thrive as a partner because you're comfortable with closeness and you're more likely to give your partner the benefit of the doubt because you view people as safe and good. The opposite is true for someone who has an insecure attachment style. If you have an insecure attachment style, you're going to struggle because you'll feel uncomfortable with closeness with your partner. You'll be more likely to assume the worst in your partner's motives because you view people as unsafe and not good. This will result in you either becoming clingy for reassurance or detaching to protect yourself from getting hurt and both behaviors will strain your relationship.
4-Managing Attachment Styles.
Many relationships are made up of one securely attached partner and one insecurely attached partner. If you're the securely attached partner you will need to provide extra grace and patience. Remember, your insecurely attached partner's bahavior is not all about you. They may assume the worst of you, they may shut you out or become overly clingy at times. Expect it. You'll have areas for improvement too as a partner but the majority of the strain in your relationship will probably come from their insecure attachment style. However, you also have the power to transform your partner's insecure attachment style into a secure attachment style. You can become the unconditional love they never received and the safe, stable relationship they never had. You have a lot of opportunity to create a safe haven for your partner to work through their attachment wounds so they can become securely attached with you.
If you're the insecurely attached partner, when you start walling off for safety or become overly clingy because you feel insecure, remember it is not all your partner's fault. Rather, it's from your family of origin. You're bringing an attachment disorder into adulthood from your upbringing and you're projecting a lot of your insecurities onto your partner. Therefore, when you struggle giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, reconsider. Look for their innocence and the good in their heart. Look for how stable they have been in their love and commitment to you. Remind yourself that you are safe, that you are secure, and that it's OK to trust them. Reminding yourself of those truths over time will eventually become your new narrative. Your attachment wounds can be healed through your relationship!
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