Disorganized attachment characteristics
Also known as fearful avoidant can experience both high anxiety and high avoidance.
There’s an approach-avoid dynamic
they have a deep longing to connect with others, but their experience of relationships has been lacking safety and security, so they’re terrified of vulnerability, abandonment, or harm by those closest to them.
They may shift in the states a panic, anger, overwhelm quickly, and may or may not be aware of the trigger that caused the shift.
They may have controlling behavior is in order to manage their own stress.
The communication could be unclear or conflicting, constantly activated, nervous system, challenges, maintaining relationships, exaggerated, startle response.
in early childhood, relationships were often no-win situations.
Imagine a caregiver telling them to come here , but you know you’re going to get a beating. They’re looking intimidating, violent and angry, but if they don’t listen, they have a negative consequence as well.
When someone is triggered, their communication might not make sense to you. It might feel disorganized, not grounded contradictory, and they might not even have a full system of relating to the partner.
They might say some thing and look for a reaction from the partner, attempting to determine if it’s safe. Their tone might have stress, desperation, fear, or intense anger.
They may experience strong waves of emotion they may attempt to end the relationship without warning.
Coping with conflict is incredibly difficult for this group. They deeply fear their partner leaving them are no longer wanting to tolerate their approach. Avoid the dynamic. They constantly feel like they’re in a bind they want connection and fear it at the same time they may be on the offensive during conflict, pushing the partner way, saying hurtful things, or taking steps to try to end the relationship. They may also shut down completely, checking out of the conflict, and even ghosting their partner for a period of time, because the threat of disconnection is too intense to tolerate.
They may experience intense states of rage or anxiety that don’t feel congruent with the context. It’s like their emotions are hijacking them and they have to protect themselves even though it no longer is beneficial or supportive to do those behaviors.
They are likely to vacillate between wanting closeness and needing space. They may feel panic when they’re apart from their partner, or feel relief, and knowing that they have space from the partner. It’s not safe to be with others. It’s not safe to be alone and they feel like they have to be on all the time.
They feel like they’re on their own with no one to trust or depend on. They may cling to somebody who seems trustworthy in an effort to maintain their sense of safety. It may be difficult to build trust with others, and people with this style may push others away when intimacy begins building.
Empathy works well with all the styles.
Hope to manage the threat response to create a healthier partnership when your brain is always on the hypervigilance and there’s a heightened threat response. You remember that you can’t just force yourself to calm down.
It’s incredibly challenging to soothe the nervous system. At this point I need to have an environment in which I have a felt sense of safety and protection. Believe your partner, respect their experience, be willing to support them in creative ways to foster healing and connection.
Your brain is amazing, it will do whatever it takes to keep you alive and safe. Can you appreciate your body for all the ways it has adapted to the different environments you’ve lived in. Your body and your nervous system are deserving of love, affection and care.
Place a hand on your chest, take some deep breaths, be present in the moment, and notice what happens when you are mindful of your body and give yourself gratitude.
Are you able to see the child that still lives inside your partner? How can you let them know that they are safe and cared for in your relationship? The need for safety does not disappear when we’re adults. I needed safety when I was a child. I need safety as an adult. How can I create more safety in my relationship?
I tend to trust when somebody sacrifices their need for my need. I tend to trust when somebody says they will do some thing and then follows through. I want to give them the opportunity to demonstrate that they are trustworthy and safe to me. For this style you want maximum amount of calm, transparency, and directness. Please focus on your word, choice, tone, and delivery.
Control what you can but you can’t control how your partner receives your communication just how you say things. be specific, direct, and compassionate, and notice how it feels.
Explore the times when you have felt the safest together. How can you re-create that? Can you wear your favorite pajamas, make popcorn, and snuggle up on the couch? Can you build a fort together with pillows and blankets? Can you cook a meal together and dance in the kitchen? What other ideas do you have?