How our parents formed bonds with us can dictate much about our adult lives. If our caregivers were cold, distant, or unreliable, our emotional needs as children weren’t consistently met. This can lead to issues with how we see ourselves and how close we can be to others as adults.

Here are several signs you’re dealing with unhealed attachment trauma.

1. You Have a Hard Time Trusting Others

One of the more common signs of unhealed attachment trauma is difficulty forming and maintaining trust with other people. This mistrust often stems from early experiences where your caregivers were inconsistent or unreliable in meeting your emotional needs. As a result, you may enter adult relationships expecting others to let you down. 

To protect yourself, you avoid emotionally investing in others so they don’t hurt you when they leave. This can lead to a pattern of avoiding truly close relationships. You may have also cultivated hyper-independence and crafted your own world that doesn’t need anybody else within it.

2. You Have Low Self-esteem

man with glasses sittingUnhealed attachment trauma can have a lasting impact on self-esteem. Because caregivers failed to provide consistent love, attention, and validation, you may have internalized the message that you’re not worthy of love.

As an adult, this sense of inadequacy and that you don’t deserve good things can persist even as you succeed in your lifeThis is a two-pronged issue: even as you’ve had to become more self-reliant and self-sufficient, you had no one to champion you along the way. Low self-esteem can frustrate your relationships and lead to imposter syndrome, perfectionism, or a constant need for external validation.

3. You Struggle to Regulate Your Emotions

Without the presence of a secure attachment figure to teach you to regulate your emotions, you might have a hard time with this as an adult. Being unable to regulate emotions can mean becoming easily frustrated, getting stuck in negative feelings, and having emotional outbursts. This can lead to intense mood swings, impulsivity, and difficulty coping with stress.

Without healthy learning healthy coping mechanisms, you may have struggled with maladaptive ways of dealing with stress. These can include things like substance abuse, isolation, self-harm, or binge eating.

4. You’re Afraid of Abandonment

If you have unhealed attachment trauma, you may constantly worry about your loved ones leaving you. Even when you have no evidence to support this (you and your partner aren’t arguing, nobody is terminally ill, ), your worries persist.

This fear can manifest in clingy behavior, jealousy, or an inability to assert boundaries. It can also lead to a pattern of pushing people away before they have the chance to leave as a preemptive defense mechanism.

5. You Avoid Intimacy

The vulnerability that comes with real intimate relationships can trigger deep-seated fears of rejection and abandonment. As a result, you may avoid close relationships or only keep superficial ones so you don’t have to get too vulnerable.

In long-term romantic relationships, you may struggle with deeper conversations, avoid working through conflict, or even shy away from physical intimacy.

Getting Help

Recognizing you have unhealed attachment trauma is the first step to making a difference. Talking to a therapist can help. You may need to unpack your childhood with a therapist. Just because you have attachment trauma doesn’t mean you had an abusive childhood. However, you likely have patterns of behavior learned early on that keep you stuck in unhealthy loops. Therapy can help you change that. You’ll also learn to develop your self-esteem, open yourself to vulnerability, and connect with others.

To find out more about how trauma therapy can help you heal the wounds from your past, please reach out to us.