How Disorganized Attachment Can Make Your Love Life Harder 

Steffo Shambo

Updated on Jan 16, 2024
disorganized attachment

Have you ever felt like your love life is a high-stakes game of emotional hide-and-seek?

One moment, you’re ready to take on the world with your partner. And the next, you’re pondering a solitary retreat to a far-off island. This is the thrilling roller coaster world of disorganized attachment.

The disorganized attachment style also has a twin: the fearful-avoidant style.

Now, the disorganized and fearful-avoidant attachment style isn’t usually brought up.

The disorganized attachment and its fearful avoidant traits can turn your love story upside down. It’s common for it to feel like a perplexing journey.

You long for closeness. Yet, you view it with a sour taste. It’s the same wariness you reserve for that one odd dish at family gatherings.

I’ll go through everything you need to know in this ultimate guide. We’ll explore the emotions and relationship challenges of this insecure attachment style.

So, fasten your seatbelts. We’ll unravel the mysteries of disorganized attachment and its sidekick, fearful-avoidant.

Once you reach the end, you’ll know how to transform your love saga from a complex melodrama to a fun, happy narrative.

What Is Disorganized Attachment?

The disorganized attachment is also known as the fearful-avoidant attachment.

A disorganized attachment style is a pattern of behavior in relationships. It’s a mix of anxious and avoidant traits. The primary cause is past traumas and negative experiences.

In relationships, it leads to inconsistent and chaotic responses. And well, it’s no surprise. That’s because the disorganized style means struggling to feel trust and security.

The attachment theory: origins of the attachment styles

Now, disorganized attachment is rarely discussed.

Why? Because it’s not usually seen as one of the primary insecure attachment styles.

Do you know that popular book, “Attached: Are You Anxious, Avoidant, or Secure?”

The book “Attached” may have popularized the term attachment style. Still, there are only 3 types of attachment styles listed—but there’s a reason for this:

“You raise an important point and we gave the matter a lot of thought when writing the book. One of the reasons we didn’t focus on the fourth attachment style, sometimes called “fearful”/”fearful-avoidant” in our book, is that we based our work on research studies and much of the research focuses on 3 styles and not 4.”

Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, Authors of “Attached: Are You Anxious, Avoidant, or Secure?”

Anyway, the popular book outlines three attachment styles. However, there’s actually a fourth one: disorganized attachment.

And that fourth attachment style is super important for understanding relationships.

We typically hear about the main three styles when the topic of attachment theory comes up.

But this fourth one is fascinating and a bit complex.

It’s deeply linked to both traumas and tough experiences. These experiences can mess with how we see ourselves and others in relationships.

People with this style can sometimes react in a disorganized and unexpected way. It’s challenging. Conversely, it can be a path to real growth and healing.

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Is disorganized attachment the same as the fearful avoidant attachment style?

The disorganized and fearful avoidant attachment styles are used to refer to one another.

Both of these attachment styles definitely share this fear of getting too close. They’re also both pretty inconsistent in relationships.

However, how they cope with these fears can set them apart.

Let’s break it down.

People with a fearful avoidant attachment style are almost the same as those with a dismissive avoidant attachment. They tend to keep their partners at arm’s length.

And here’s the twist – a fearful-avoidant wrestles with anxiety. Yet deep down, they really crave trust and love. It’s kind of a push-and-pull situation with them.

True, a disorganized attachment may react the same way and show contradictive behaviors. Except, they’re usually more unpredictable.

disorganized attachment is more or less the same as fearful avoidant

The Symptoms Of Disorganized Attachment And Fearful Avoidant Attachment In Adults

Disorganized and fearful-avoidant behaviors are two sides of the same coin. They show up in adult relationships in some pretty distinct ways, as stated in a report published on NCBI:

“The most commonly used indicator of disorganized attachment in adults is the Adult Attachment Interview code “Unresolved state of mind with respect to loss or trauma”

Here are some symptoms to keep an eye out for:

  • Emotional Intimacy Issues: It’s tough for them to get close. They might want to, but there’s this invisible wall, you know?
  • Controlling Tendencies: Sometimes, they try to take the reins in relationships. But it’s more about their own fears and insecurities.
  • Lone Wolf Attitude: These folks can appear too independent and self-reliant. They’re like those survival experts who thrive in the wild.
  • Strong Self-Preservation: It’s almost as if they have this built-in radar for self-protection. They’re always on guard to keep themselves safe, emotionally speaking.

The struggle with emotional intimacy is real

Folks with disorganized attachment styles struggle with emotional intimacy.

Yes, they want to get close to someone. At the same time, they’re afraid. The thought and act of being vulnerable drives them away. They have a huge fear of rejection.

In other words, it’s an emotional tug-of-war.

This struggle isn’t just a roadblock. It’s also an adventurous challenge.

The cons might sound pretty big. It’s a chance to develop a secure attachment style by understanding themselves better.

After all, they’ve got this mix of anxious and avoidant feelings. Overcoming these can actually open up doors to relationships that are way deeper. The result is more rewarding than they ever thought possible.

It all boils down to turning those fears into opportunities.

Controlling behavior and its underpinnings

Controlling behavior isn’t too surprising. It’s almost a normal occurrence with a disorganized and fearful-avoidant attachment style.

I mean, think about it. It’s a survival tactic that comes from how they had to adapt and toughen up. Not because they were willing to, but because they had to.

When you see them act controllingly, it’s not just a random behavior. It’s a mirror of their past.

What Causes Disorganized Attachment And The Fearful Avoidant Behavior?

there are two main factors that cause the disorganized attachment

Here are the two main factors that cause the fearful-avoidant attachment style:

  • Inconsistent caregiving patterns
  • Traumatic experiences

I’ll go into both of these in a bit more detail below.

Inconsistent caregiving patterns

This is when, as a kid, you don’t get a stable kind of love and care.

One day, your caregivers are super attentive. On the next day, they’re distant. It messes with your head. You never know what to expect.

The inconsistency creates a sense of insecurity, especially for children.

Traumatic experiences

Childhood trauma and negative experiences play a major role.

Anything related to abuse or neglect amplifies fearful-avoidant behaviors. A disorganized and fearful-avoidant attachment style is the ultimate result.

Still, these experiences also provide opportunities for personal growth.

People with severe trauma histories may find that they have more resilience. They have the special ability to persevere more.

Traumatic experiences can strengthen someone. How one faces their fears depends on how fast they can build secure attachment style traits.

Disorganized Attachment In Romantic Relationships

this attachment makes relationships close yet distant

The disorganized attachment style can make romantic relationships sour.

Why? Well, because of two things:

  • The push-pull dynamic
  • Trust issues

People with a disorganized attachment will detach themselves from their partner. Soon after, they’ll linger around.

For the other person, this can feel frustrating and confusing.

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The push-pull dynamic in intimacy

Push means putting some distance between yourself and your partner. Pull means bringing your partner closer to you.

The mix between closeness and distance can make a relationship exciting.

But, like anything else, there are limits. A lack of balance may lead to relationship conflict.

Good communication is essential to prevent conflict from arising.

Trust issues

Trust issues can come from past experiences of betrayal or abandonment. Therefore, it can be difficult to fully trust someone.

These experiences can serve as valuable lessons.

Confront the heart of the matter. Don’t just accept a victim mentality.  

I understand that it’s hard and might even feel impossible. Still, it’s a necessary step for building more resilient trust.

How To Heal From Disorganized Attachment And Fearful Avoidant Roots

You can heal from disorganized attachment. The roots of fearful avoidant behaviors don’t have to stick around forever.

Here’s what to do:

  • Focus on building self-esteem
  • Refine your social circle
  • Get professional help
  • Elevate your spiritual connection with Tantra

Each of these steps will empower you to take control of your life.

No more feeling helpless and hopeless. You make do with the cards dealt.

Do you want to know one of the most empowering things about this journey? It’s the potential for growth.

Focus on building self-esteem

Having confidence boosts self-worth. This is especially important for those struggling with disorganized attachment.

Life’s got its share of ups and downs.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Keep your cool. Find healthy ways to deal with the obstacles thrown at you.

Don’t focus on the negatives. Focus on what’s within your control. And, do more of the following:

  • Tell yourself positive things
  • Find ways to solve the problem
  • Build strong connections with others
  • Stop listening to that negative voice in your head

Refine your social circle

Fixing up your social circle does a lot for your mental health. It also helps you build healthier and more fulfilling relationships.

Now, what if you realize that you have toxic connections everywhere?

One solution is to join support groups. Find communities where you share a common interest.

The tantric man community is one good example. This is where men motivate each other to become the best version of themselves.

Being surrounded by only negative people will bring you back down. So, it’s important to refine your social circle.

your social circle can greatly influence your outlook on life

Get professional help

Professional help from either a therapist or coach can make a significant difference.

Take it as a guide for your mind: you get help identifying your blindspots and healing the roots. 

On the note of therapy, there are a few effective approaches:

  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

Or, you can consider an intimacy coach who offers a holistic approach.

Elevate your spiritual connection with tantra

Tantra is life-changing for everyone. Those with a disorganized or fearful avoidant attachment style are no exception.

One thing Tantra emphasizes is understanding yourself on a spiritual level. It requires close reflection on your inner thoughts, feelings, and insecurities.

How you see others is usually a reflection of yourself. The art of Tantra helps you pave the way to a secure attachment style.

The Interplay Between Disorganized Attachment And Mental Health

disorganized attachment can make you get into your own head

A person’s attachment style affects the state of their mental health.

Those with a more secure attachment style tend to have better mental health. They don’t have as many difficulties with emotional well-being.

It’s hard to say the same for a person with a disorganized and fearful attachment.

Are you not used to having your physical or emotional needs met? Then, it may explain why you find yourself struggling with comorbid conditions.

The role of self-regulation in recovery

Developing self-regulation skills plays a massive role in managing emotions. This ultimately leads to better communication.

Self-regulation is an essential skill that empowers individuals to do the following:

  • Identify triggers on a conscious and subconscious level
  • Prevent themselves from lashing out
  • Express emotions
  • Apply self-soothing techniques

Disorganized Attachment Across Generations

Unfortunately, this attachment is easily passed down in families and generations.

How? It boils down to those in the caregiver position. In other words, parents or guardians are responsible for caring for children.

How parents or guardians manage emotional expression will set the tone. It marks expectations for the future.

Those who fulfill the needs of a child set a positive tone.

If emotional connection is nonexistent, it affects how the children will learn to bond.

Breaking the cycle of an insecure attachment

Do you need help with an insecure attachment like the disorganized attachment style?

Are you tired of reminding yourself of your fearful-avoidant attachment style traits?

It doesn’t have to last forever.

You have the power to break the cycle. An insecure attachment is temporary.

Reading about attachment theory isn’t enough.

Educating yourself on the topic is good, but most importantly, you must be the one to break the cycle. Especially when it’s something that’s never been done before in your family.  

Breaking the cycle means confronting your shadow. Make a conscious effort to emotionally connect with others.

you can break free from the chains of an insecure attachment

Understanding the role of the caregiver’s behavior

Enough is enough.

That might be your initial reaction. In reality, it’s a lot easier said than done.

Getting a grip on how the parents or guardians treated you in the past can help. But it won’t stop the vicious cycle from repeating.

Ultimately, it requires you to take action.

Have you found your mind or feelings in two places at once? Try taking a few deep conscious breaths.  

Conclusion

Disorganized attachment and its fearful avoidant traits can bring you to a twisty road.

Any insecure attachment style can bring you to the edge. It’s almost like your emotions are playing a high-stakes game of Jenga. One wrong move and everything comes tumbling down.

But hey, who doesn’t love a good challenge?

Another perspective on disorganized attachment is that it can be the ultimate emotional workout.

If you can face your challenges, it leads to the following:

  • Developing resilience
  • Self-discovery
  • Building the kind of deep connections that romance novels are made of.

Embracing this challenge is not just about overcoming fears. It’s also about becoming the emotional equivalent of a superhero, cape and all (cape not included).

Now, if you’re ready to flex those emotional muscles and build unshakeable confidence, I’ve got just the thing. Check out my free exclusive relationship training video here for the tantric secrets to building your dream love life!

WATCH FREE TRAINING NOW

Boost your confidence, master your sexuality, and find your purpose.

So you can reignite the passion in your relationship or attract your perfect woman.

FAQs

What are the characteristics of a disorganized attachment?

Inconsistent and contradictory behaviors are typically the top characteristics. Not just for disorganized attachment but for any insecure attachment style. Other characteristics include struggling with emotional vulnerability. You may also constantly stress out in social situations.

What does disorganized attachment feel like?

You’re constantly on the fence. You experience a strong need for closeness. However, you’re also full of self-doubt. The constant conflict in emotions can make relationships feel a lot more difficult. 

How do you date someone with a disorganized attachment?

You need patience and empathy. Show support and compassion. Express your feelings and needs. Take it slow and one step at a time, and encourage your partner to do the same.

What is an example of disorganized attachment in psychology?

An example of a disorganized attachment style is when children show close and avoidant behaviors. A child might cry for their caregiver when separated. But when they’re together, the child might decide to stay away. 

Who are fearful avoidants attracted to?

One with a fearful avoidant attachment may find themselves attracted to anxious partners. You read that right. Fearful avoidants are often attracted to the u003ca href=u0022https://tantricacademy.com/healing-anxious-attachment/u0022u003eanxious attachment styleu003c/au003e. An anxious person’s pursuit of closeness makes it a match for a fearful-avoidant.

What are signs of fearful avoidant attachment?

The biggest sign is having trouble trusting others. Hiding your feelings and emotions is another sign. You should also be concerned when you have negative views all the time. These are the main signs of a fearful-avoidant attachment style.

Can a fearful avoidant fall in love?

Yes, but with a little twist. The tricky part for them isn’t getting into love. It’s sticking around. A man who’s a fearful avoidant might show signs of u003ca href=u0022https://tantricacademy.com/men-with-commitment-issues/u0022u003ecommitment issuesu003c/au003e.

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Steffo Shambo

Steffo Shambo

Men's Tantric Relationship Coach

Steffo Shambo is the founder of The Tantric Man Experience. The #1 masculine mentorship program in the world, where he’s helping men master confidence, sexuality, & purpose to reignite the passion in their relationship or attract a meaningful relationship. He’s on a mission to spread a conscious sexual revolution for men worldwide so that they can show up as integrated partners, fathers, and leaders.

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