How to be with a Partner Who Has Disorganised Attachment

  • They have a deep need for consistency – being a safe person is essential
  • Understanding their fear in relationship
  • They will have emotional ups and downs – allow space for this WITH boundaries
  • When in an argument they may dissociate and go numb – take a break and plan to return after 10-15 minutes
  • Or they may become aggressive – maintain healthy boundaries – be open about what you expect and why
  • Work together to create stability for you both – you may need support with this and that’s okay
  • Watch out for depression and anxiety in your partner and seek help if necessary

Children are wired for survival. To survive they will adapt to their environment to get their needs for food, love and security met. In children who show disorganised attachment, the primary care giver (often the mother), has been disorganised herself, meaning, she is erratic, unpredictable and sometimes abusive and neglectful.

As adults, these people want intimacy, but when they get close, it terrifies them and reminds of their past trauma, which makes them back off and often dissociate. They have not learnt to self-soothe so will struggle to regulate their emotions. They can be aggressive when they are stressed or threatened.

Know that a relationship with someone who has a secure style for these people can seem boring because they are used to intimacy feeling unsafe. They will be hypervigilant in relationship looking for unsafe triggers, so be as consistent and safe as possible, without losing your natural spontaneity.

If they act out, make sure you have loving, healthy boundaries with them. Include them in creating these boundaries at a time they are not triggered and emotional.

People who have a disorganised attachment style will often re-parent in the same style, never having learnt another way. They have unresolved childhood trauma. The most healing thing for them is to do some work with a trained therapist to work towards ‘earned secure attachment’. You can be a big part of their healing journey if you work together and you are willing.

They CAN move into secure attachment with professional help and support from a loved one they can trust.