attachment issues and young adults

Overcoming Attachment Issues as a Young Adult

Throughout adolescence, attachment issues stemming from insecure attachment in childhood may manifest through frequent fighting with parents and a desire to be more independent, which may seem like a normal part of being a teenager living at home. As a young adult, attachment issues may begin to affect other relationships in one’s life. Young adults who are preoccupied with their social struggles often carry around a sense of shame and lack a stable sense of self that can reinforce feelings of depression and anxiety.

Types of Attachment Issues 

Anxious attachment styles may include:

  • Feelings of anger or helplessness in relationships
  • Anxiety around and mistrusting of strangers
  • Separation anxiety 
  • Reluctance to get close to others
  • Fear of rejection and abandonment
  • Desire for attention and validation

Avoidant attachment styles may include:

  • Social isolation
  • Overestimating self-reliance
  • Emotionall detachment or lack of emotional awareness
  • Unwillingness to be vulnerable with others
  • Fear of being clingy or needy
  • Being ore likely to seek out relationships but stay at a distance or avoid them altogether 

Disorganized attachment styles may include:

  • Often unpredictable combination of avoidant and ambivalent attachment styles
  • Switching between caregiving and pushing others away
  • Attraction to others who are similarly disorganized 
  • Being more likely to seek validation from others

Why is it Important to Work on Attachment Issues?

Attachment issues are at the root of a lot of mental health struggles and unhealthy coping mechanisms. When individual therapy is solely focused on learning healthier coping skills and processing negative experiences, it ignores the end goal of these strategies: feeling more connected and supported. 

Learning about how one’s attachment style has contributed to their worldview can help young adults reframe how they see difficult situations and feel more empowered. A secure attachment style means you feel that you have a safe base from which you can explore the world, grow, and develop as an individual, with friends, and in intimate relationships.

Some ways young adults can work on overcoming attachment issues include:


  • Setting Boundaries


Many young adults with anxious attachment styles struggle to let go of the desire to please their parents and other people that they are close to. As a result, they may bend over backwards to do things for others, even if they are not self-serving. They often have trouble saying no or making independent choices without seeking other people’s advice or approval. 

As a transition program for young adults, our style of family therapy more closely resembles parent coaching. This informal style of therapy encourages young adults to self-advocate and express their goals assertively. This also helps parents take a step back and shift their role as a parent of an adult, rather than a teenager. 

We also discuss topics like dating safety and conflict resolution in the workplace during community meetings to help young adults brainstorm healthier ways to set boundaries in different areas of their lives. 


  • Establishing Healthy Independence


A lot of young adults with avoidant attachment styles may have felt early in life that they couldn’t depend on their parents and tried to grow up too quickly. They may have taken on “adult roles” or hanging out with older friends in an attempt to feel more independent. Often, this may have meant skipping typical adolescent experiences in order to “do adult things” without being emotionally prepared. After leaving high school and continuing to try to do things on their own, they may struggle with balancing responsibilities. 

Staff at transition programs for young adults are considered mentors, rather than authority figures, that help young adults navigate what it might look like for them to be more interdependent–asking for help when appropriate and trusting their ability to succeed independently.


  • Identifying Relationship Values


Young adults with anxious or avoidant attachment styles are more likely to recognize their style of relating to others as part of “how they do relationships” and accept the consequences that come along with it. On the other hand, young adults with disorganized attachment styles that exhibit a combination of the previous two styles may struggle to describe what they look for in relationships and how they connect to others.   

Part of our recreation programming involves helping young adults identify why they do the things they do and which values their actions are in line with. Living a value-driven life can help young adults feel more confident about their future and more secure in their relationships, as they gravitate towards people who have similar values and goals.

Journey Home Young Adult can help

Journey Home Young Adult is a transitional living program for young women ages 18-23. This program addresses emotional, behavioral, and mental health disorders that young women may face. Common presenting problems include depression, anxiety, attachment issues, academic struggles, and low self-esteem. Journey Home creates an environment conducive to healing where young women can learn healthy coping skills while becoming more well-equipped to launch into adulthood. Students leave this program feeling empowered, happy, and healthy. We can help your family today!

Contact us at 855-918-0032 to learn more about our relationship-based program.


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