It does not seem that you had a healthy attachment with your mother or father. Healthy, stable relationships were never modeled for you. Neither parent was emotionally available to you. Your father was not in your life long enough to really get to know him and when you and he did interact, he essentially ignored you. It’s human nature to want safe and stable relationships with others. Ideally these relationships are supposed to occur with your parents. When an individual lacks these stable and important relationships with their parents they often spend their adult lives attempting to secure these attachments with others. Because you never had a true bond with your parents you’re searching for healthy attachments with others whom you’ve deemed as safe (teachers, therapists, etc). It makes sense that you would have a difficult time with attachment given your history. The above explanation might help explain “why” you have trouble with attachment.
Individuals with borderline personality disorder have problems developing healthy relationships. Attachment is usually a problem for them. They also fear abandonment. Again, it makes sense for individuals with borderline personality disorder to have difficulty in relationships because many have had interrupted or troubled attachments with their primary caretakers.
It is possible that you have borderline personality disorder but if you do please know that it is a treatable disorder. If you are currently in treatment you should ask your therapist about whether you have the disorder. If you do your therapist might alter your current treatment regimen.
You asked what you could do to stop the distressing attachment problems you experience. Since you’re currently in therapy it would be helpful if you focused on this issue. Does your therapist know this is an issue for you? I hope so.
You can learn a new way of interacting with people. A good therapist can teach you how to behave in relationships. He or she can model “healthy behavior” for you. He or she can also analyze your relationships with others and point out what areas need to be adapted or improved. The goal for therapy should be to teach or model for you what a healthy relationship is like. Dialectical behavior therapy is a biopsychosocial mode of treatment that has been proved to work well with individuals with borderline personality disorder. It may be helpful for you. Take care.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on February 23, 2009.