Maybe you’ve always had a strained relationship with your parents. They may not have been able to meet your emotional needs. As a result, you began to feel like the only person you could rely on was yourself. Perhaps they were extremely strict, making you tiptoe around their rules, which may have even been contradictory or nonsensical.

Alternatively, your parents may have been abusive or neglectful. The people who were supposed to be your primary caregivers might not have given you the care you actually needed. You may have been exposed to violence, substance abuse, housing instability, food insecurity, or other serious issues in your childhood.

If you dealt with issues like these as a child, you might have an anxious, avoidant, or disorganized attachment style as an adult. Although these attachment styles differ in terms of presentation, they all make it difficult for people to form secure relationships in adulthood. Here are a few signs of attachment trauma in adults.

Low Self-Esteem

Most adults with attachment trauma struggle with low self-esteem. If your caregivers did not meet your needs, it can be hard to believe that you are genuinely worthy of love, care, and support.

You might feel like you need to accept mediocre relationships, mistreatment, or even abuse, simply because your caregivers made you feel like you weren’t “worth” more than that. People with attachment trauma often suffer from negative self-talk as well.

Hesitancy Around Trusting Others

When you have attachment trauma, it can be difficult to put your trust in other people. You may isolate yourself and have few friends, or you may push people away when they try to get close. If you do pursue romantic relationships, you doubt that your partner truly loves you. You might regularly question their affection.

Alternatively, you might cling to your partner so tightly that you become distressed if they want to spend any time alone or with their other friends. This may cause you to question their loyalty.

Difficulty Expressing Emotions

People with attachment trauma may be hesitant to express their honest emotions. They may have been taught that their emotional needs were unimportant, or secondary to other people’s concerns.

When someone asks how they feel, they might instinctively lie and say that they’re fine. On the other hand, some people with attachment trauma will bottle up their emotions for years on end, only to get angry at their loved ones seemingly out of nowhere, because they never saw a healthy approach to conflict modeled at home.

People Pleasing

Attachment trauma can lead to people pleasing. If someone has attachment trauma, they might feel like keeping other people happy is the only way to stay emotionally and physically safe.

Growing up, saying something that angered one of their parents might have resulted in a volatile or even physically abusive reaction. Now, they end up walking on eggshells to avoid inciting reactions in anyone else.

Lack of Emotional Regulation Skills

People learn emotional regulation skills through healthy interactions with caregivers, including navigating disagreements without getting overwhelmed. But adults with attachment trauma might have never learned these valuable skills in childhood. They may assume the worst based on throwaway comments from a friend, rather than simply asking people to clarify what they meant.

It might be hard to get through a disagreement without it turning into an argument. Additionally, conflicts and disagreements can be exceptionally stressful and lead to high levels of anxiety if you have attachment trauma.

Are you struggling with attachment trauma in adulthood? A therapist can help you develop a secure attachment style. Reach out to us to learn more about scheduling a session.




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