Unhealthy Attachment: 5 Symptoms and Causes

Everyone feels attached to their loved ones, people, place, or their jobs and careers. One of the reasons for that is because when you have good things in your life, you are attached to them, and it does make perfect sense to feel that way. There’s nothing wrong with it. But it becomes unhealthy when it starts disturbing or disrupting your life. When we talk about relationships, it disrupts not only your life but also your partner’s life.

There’s a thin line between healthy and unhealthy attachment. Healthy attachments come from healthy boundaries, feeling of warmth, and security from within. At the same time, unhealthy attachments come from jealousy and insecurities.

Listed below are some of the causes of unhealthy attachments.

1. Insecure childhood:

In childhood, the adult did not get a secure childhood. A child often needs to feel confident and protected physically but more so emotionally. If this need is unmet, the child grows to be an insecure adult. Because of their anxiety and insecurity, these adults try to control everything and everyone around them. It makes them feel in control; it makes them feel secure.

2. Avoidant or Dismissal Parent / Caregiver:

In this adult’s childhood, the parent or the caregiver would have been non-attentive to the child’s needs. This could be due to a lack of emotional availability or overall absence from the child’s life. This might precisely be the children who had parents who were always working or going through a problem in their own marriage or career.

3. Unpredictable environment:

An unpredictable environment means that these adults in their childhood sometimes got too much love and sometimes were abandoned by their parents. So such children often grow up to be confused. They don’t know how to feel about the people around them. Also, indecisiveness can be reflected in their decisions and choices. When someone tries to be nice to them, they might feel highly overwhelmed with multiple emotions or suddenly withdraw. That’s because they don’t know how to react in such a situation.

 4. Dysfunctional Family: 

When the environment in the family is chaotic when there are a lot of fights, arguments, conflicts within the family when the parents have an unhealthy relationship with each other, the child grows up to be an adult who has no faith or trust in relationships and fear any commitments.

5. Childhood trauma and abuse:

If the child has gone through traumatic situations like the death of both the parents or one parent or the child was given up for adoption, or they have gone through any form of physical, emotional, sexual abuse. These adults take a lot of time to trust people around them, and when they do, they give their everything to the relationship, and often separation or the thought can make them attach to their partners unhealthily.

 Symptoms of Unhealthy Attachments:

1. Your feeling dependent on the other’s presence and attention. 

When you are in a relationship, there is some interdependence in the relationship. For example, you might like to do things together. You enjoy spending time with each other. So although we might want to do many things with our partners, we also need our personal space from time to time. Things turn unhealthy when one of you becomes dependent on your partner where you do not wish to give them their personal space. You always want to be around them. You are scared to leave them alone. You feel disabled without the partner’s presence. You are unable to do things without them, so your life feels stuck. And when the other partner has to give this attention to their partner, they feel constantly drained. This mental exhaustion is often what leads to the break-up.

2. You constantly need your partner’s approval or validation.

So we as human beings can decide and take decisions on our own. It’s only the most important or more prominent decisions we make with our partners since they are a part of our life. A change in your life will definitely bring about some change in your partner’s life too.

But what creates the unhealthy attachment is when you make all your decisions asking your partner. Even the smallest ones you can make yourself, for example, what dress you should wear to your workplace, which book you must buy from the shop, and what you must cook for dinner. Sometimes, getting your partner’s opinion when you are genuinely confused is okay, but calling them every 10 minutes to ask small things will drive them away.

The reason for this behaviour is that you do not feel very confident about yourself. You are low in your self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love. The partner’s validation is like a reward to them. It makes them happy to know that they’ve got something right. Sometimes, in relationships, both partners can have different views and choices. When the partner disapproves of your preferences, you might feel rejected, or your self-confidence drops. You feel anxious and angry. This is a sign of unhealthy attachment.

3. You lose your sense of self.

Losing a sense of self is when you do not have your own existence without your partner. You start to believe that you exist because of your partner. You might observe yourself doing things that your partner likes or wants, irrespective of whether you like it. This is because you are constantly afraid of disappointing them. The thought of them leaving you is something you can’t even get yourself to think of. Their happiness is all that matters. You modify your habits and your behaviour to the way they want you to behave and be.

4. You’re obsessed with their every single move. 

Knowing what your partner is up to is okay, but obsessively wanting to learn about their schedule, about the people they meet, their equation with their colleagues from the opposite gender is highly unhealthy. They need to know everything about them can make you turn into a stalker. This shows a lack of faith and trust in your partner and your relationship.

5. You become selfish.

You start exhibiting selfish behaviours and patterns where you feel like if you cannot have your partner, no one else can. Here, you might ask your partner to break their ties with their parents, siblings, friends, and colleagues. You want to hog their personal space and their time. You don’t like to share them with anyone other than you. You do not like it if they wish to go to a party or meet a friend.

All these behaviours come from a void and need for being loved and given attention. But you depending on someone else for any emotional support makes you dependent on the person. It is essential to work on this void and insecurities.

When you do so, you feel very secure in your own space and relationship, creating warmth and healthy attachments.

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