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Feeling Confused in Your Relationship?

You are welcome to share Dr. Gloria Lee’s article:

(This is part 4 of 5 in the Attachment Series. If you missed the others, you could find them here in the blog area.)

Your relationships are one of the most important aspects of your life. They give you a sense of purpose, belonging, and love. However, what happens when the very thing you need the most – intimate connection – becomes a source of pain and confusion? This is often the case for individuals with a disorganized attachment style.

Attachment style refers to the way you relate to others, formed in early childhood based on your interactions with your primary caregivers. Specifically, disorganized attachment style is typically formed when you’ve experienced both extreme fear and extreme comfort-seeking behaviors with your caregiver.

This contradictory experience can lead to a confused and disorganized attachment style that can have long-lasting negative effects on intimate relationships. If you have a disorganized attachment style, you may find yourself struggling with trust, insecurity, and difficulty with emotional regulation in relationships.

Disorganized attachment is driven by the fear of abandonment and belief that people are dangerous, which makes it extremely challenging to feel close and connected to a partner.

Here are some common experiences people with disorganized attachment style have with their primary caregivers during childhood (NOT all may apply):

  • Nothing worked to make the pain go away, no matter what you tried or did, it didn’t make a difference, so you constantly felt inner chaos
  • Your caregivers were abusive (emotionally, mentally, physically, sexually, or spiritually) or extremely neglectful
  • There was chaos in the home so, you never knew what to expect, which left you in a constant state of fear, unsafety, and unpredictability
  • You were often left alone at home, even at a young age
  • If your caregivers were around, they were too disorganized themselves to even know you had needs, never mind attending to them
  • There were multiple systemic challenges in the home, such as poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, fighting, crime, substance abuse, etc.
  • Your caregivers had unresolved trauma, violence, and abuse in their own childhood which are now being projected onto the next generation (i.e., intergenerational trauma)


In adult relationships, disorganized attachment typically shows up like:

  • Continuing the cycle of trauma, violence, and abuse with your partner and children
  • Abandoning your partner, then blaming them for abandoning you
  • Feeling confused and desperate for connection, but then feeling disgusted and angry when your partner wants closeness
  • Instigating fights because that’s the only way you know how to communicate and achieve intimacy (by making up afterwards)
  • Fighting, freezing, or fleeing when triggered as part of your trauma response, but the response is unpredictable and always different
  • Dissociating is your way of escaping the pain and chaos
  • Exploding over little things and not being bothered by big things, getting super emotional at times, or abusive, or submissive
  • Not trusting your partner, yourself, or anyone else for the matter
  • Your partner walking on eggshells to not set you off. They feel like they need to constantly appease and rescue you. They feel tired, confused, and scared.


If you find yourself struggling with a disorganized attachment style, it’s important to know that healing is possible. Here are two tips to start the healing process in your relationship:

     1. Seek therapy

One of the most effective ways to heal disorganized attachment style is through therapy. Specifically, look for a therapist who is trauma-informed and understands attachment styles and their underlying emotional wounds.

You may not feel like you can trust the therapist at first, that’s normal. But as you do the work, you will learn how to trust. You will experience safety, empathy, connection, and goodness. This corrective experience will support your healing.

     2. Practice mindfulness

Slow down your breathing and ground yourself in the present moment. Focus on the soles of your feet to stop the flooding of emotions. Plant your feet on the ground, wiggle your toes, and feel the soles touching your shoes or ground. This will help you feel calmer, more regulated, and to think clearly.

Remember, disorganized attachment does not define who you are. It describes WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU. You know you are trying your best and it’s extremely difficult given the hand you were dealt. But with intention, practice, and patience, it is possible to heal and develop more secure and fulfilling connections with others.

Learn how to overcome insecure attachment and strengthen your relationship bond with The Connected Couple program.

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