Disorganized Attachment Style: Navigating the Push Pull

The Disorganized Attachment Style: Navigating Contradictory Impulses

The Disorganized Attachment style is marked by a confusing mix of behaviors and desires that often result from a background of trauma or inconsistent caregiving in childhood. Individuals with Disorganized attachment may desire closeness but fear it at the same time, leading to unpredictable and sometimes erratic relationship patterns.

The Inner Conflict of Disorganized Attachment

People with a Disorganized attachment style typically experience an internal struggle between the need for intimacy and the drive to push others away. This conflict is a reflection of past interactions where caregivers were sources of both comfort and fear, making it difficult for them to develop a coherent strategy for getting their needs met.

The Partner's Experience with Disorganized Attachment

Partners of individuals with Disorganized attachment can find themselves in a whirlwind of mixed signals. One moment, their partner may seem deeply involved and the next, completely distant or even hostile. This unpredictability can be challenging to navigate and may leave partners feeling confused and insecure about the relationship's stability.

Example of Disorganized Behavior and Partner Response:

Disorganized Partner: "I need you close to me right now. Please, don't go."

Partner: "Okay, I'm here. I won't leave you."

(After a short while)

Disorganized Partner: "Why are you suffocating me? I need space!"

Partner: "I'm just trying to be here for you. What do you need from me?"

In this example, the Disorganized partner's conflicting behaviors stem from an internal disarray that makes it hard for them to understand and articulate their own needs consistently.

The Antidote to Help Your Disorganized Partner Regulate

Assisting a Disorganized partner in emotional regulation requires a stable and patient approach. It's important to offer a predictable and calm presence, allowing them to feel safe without overwhelming them with demands for consistency or intimacy.

Partner: "I'm here for you, no matter how you're feeling. We can take things one step at a time, and I'll give you the space you need when you need it."

This kind of response provides a sense of safety and understanding, which can help a Disorganized partner slowly learn to trust and engage in the relationship without fear.

Healing the Disorganized Attachment

Healing for those with Disorganized attachment often involves addressing traumatic past experiences and learning to develop a sense of safety within themselves and their relationships. Therapy, particularly trauma-informed therapy, can be crucial in helping individuals understand their attachment style and work towards healthier patterns of relating.

For those with Disorganized attachment, it's also about creating a coherent narrative of their past, understanding their behaviors, and gradually building the capacity for secure and consistent relationships.


The path to a more secure attachment for someone with a Disorganized attachment style involves patience, understanding, and often professional support. By working through past traumas and learning to navigate their conflicting impulses, they can move toward relationships that are stable, fulfilling, and less fraught with fear and confusion.