Ever been confused by someone who pushes people away, but in the next moment craves intimacy?

Robin Scherbatsky from the show How I Met Your Mother might come to mind:

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A disorganized attachment style may be the cause of this behaviour.

Attachment Styles

Our attachment style as an adult develops from childhood experiences:

  • Were our caregivers trustworthy?

  • Did we receive enough attention?

  • Were we encouraged to be our true selves?

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There are four types of attachment. Each type differs in the positive (+) and/or negative (-) view of yourself and others:


+ view of self, + view of others

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Anxious (insecure)

- view of self, + view of others

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Avoidant (insecure)

+ view of self, - view of others

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Disorganized (insecure)

-/+ view of self, -/+ view of others

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Disorganized types experience insecure attachment as a combination of avoidant and anxious types.

They push people away while also seeking close relationships.

But Why Does This Happen?

Disorganized attachment may develop because of:

Flaticon Icon Experiences of unresolved trauma.

EG. A verbally abusive household

Flaticon Icon Inconsistent care as a child because a caregiver was sometimes present, other times not.

EG. A parent who worked 3 jobs and was rarely home

Flaticon Icon Confusing behaviors from their caregiver when their caregiver's own needs were not met.

EG. A parent who struggled with their mental health and was not emotionally available

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Such events have the potential to contribute to a disorganized attachment style because they may signal instability and inspire uncertainty about relationships from childhood.

The resulting fearful response is a coping mechanism to avoid getting hurt again.

Conflicting Feelings About Relationships

A disorganized attachment style often means being excited to enter new relationships but pushing people away the moment things get too serious.

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Let's Keep It Casual

Entering casual relationships built on physical intimacy temporarily satisfies the need for connection without having to focus on feelings.

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Even if their partner is supportive, a disorganized type may:

  • Maintain a negative view of themselves

  • Perceive their partner's support negatively

  • Show low commitment to the relationship


Which of the following might someone with a disorganized attachment style include in a breakup text?

Better Watch Out

If pressured to share too much, or if they feel that the relationship is progressing too quickly, disorganized types may:

  • Exhibit unpredictable emotions — responding simultaneously to the fear of abandonment and being smothered

  • Shut off all communication suddenly and without warning

  • Make excuses to leave the relationship

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Take Action

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Consider the following. Do you:

If these regularly apply to you, you may exhibit a disorganized attachment style.


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