was successfully added to your cart.

How to Reach Your Dating Goals If You Have Reactive Attachment Disorder in Adults (RAD)

By Dr. Carol MorganFebruary 7, 2019Health
reactive attachment disorder in adults

Do you feel like you are always blowing it with women? And you don’t know why you can’t seem to date anyone for more than a few weeks? If so, you may be dating with Reactive Attachment Disorder in Adults (RAD) and not even know it.

Basically, it’s a scientific explanation for why you’re always single. Let’s start by taking a look at how this develops from childhood.

The Development of Reactive Attachment Disorder in Childhood

Believe it or not, reactive attachment disorder in adults can start in infancy. It is a condition where an infant or young child doesn’t have any healthy attachments to their parents or caregivers.


It can develop if the child’s basic needs aren’t met, such as comfort, affection, and nurturing. It is vital for a child to have their emotional and physical needs consistently met. For example, when a baby cries, they are signaling to the caregiver that they are hungry or that their diaper needs changed.

Most parents meet this need with some sort of emotional exchange such as looking into the baby’s eyes, holding them, smiling, caressing, or talking to them. But in people who develop RAD, this is not what happened to them, and thus, they lack the ability to attach to other people.

There are certain signs and symptoms that babies and young children exhibit if they are developing RAD. They include some of the following: unexplained withdrawal, fear, irritability, sadness, failure to smile, not reaching out for touch, and no interest in playing interactive games.

When these needs are ignored or met with a lack of emotional response from the caregiver, it sets the stage for problems with relationships later in life.

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder in Adults (RAD)?

The effects of having reactive attachment disorder in adults can be significant. RAD causes people to have an inability to fully experience relationships because they don’t have a positive sense of self. In addition, their overall mental health could be compromised as well. They often have dysfunctional thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Because of these negative feelings, adults with RAD might have trouble adjusting in many areas of their lives, not just relationships. The disorder causes low self-esteem, and they don’t believe in themselves or their ability to live a good life. This is especially true if someone has not received any treatment for it.

How is RAD Related To The 3 Types of Attachment?

This may be the first time you are hearing of this phenomenon called “attachment” styles. But researchers have done many studies about how people emotionally attach (or detach) themselves from other people, and they categorized them into three main categories:

  1. Secure Attachment Style

People with the secure attachment style are the ones who feel confident in themselves and aren’t afraid to emotionally attach to other people (or have others attach to them). Typically, these people were raised in loving homes by parents who were dependable and satisfied their emotional needs.


As a result, the person grows up trusting other people and sees mostly advantages to getting emotionally close to other people. They find it fulfilling, and they tend to have pretty healthy relationships because of it.

  1. Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Style

If someone has the anxious-preoccupied attachment style, they tend to feel “needy” in relationships. They might fear that other people will abandon them, cheat on them, or simply not love them. Their self-esteem isn’t particularly high.

They become this way, of course, because of their parents as well. Their caregivers were not trustworthy or dependable. Therefore, they grow up to think that people may not love them, so they always feel the need to be the “chaser” in a relationship.

  1. Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment Style

The dismissive-avoidant attachment style is similar to people with reactive-attachment disorder. They are almost the opposite of people with the anxious-preoccupied attachment style. Instead of being the “chaser” in a relationship, they are the “runner.” They try to avoid attachment and are uncomfortable being emotionally close to anyone.

The parents of these types of people were also not dependable and didn’t meet their children’s emotional needs. As a result, they expect that people will not always be there for them, so in order to protect themselves, they avoid emotionally attaching to people so they will stay safe from pain and hurt feelings.

The Signs & Symptoms of RAD..and How to Know if You Have It

When an adult has reactive attachment disorder, they will have difficulty starting and maintaining romantic relationships. This happens because the person has a negative and distorted image if him/herself. It’s relatively rare condition, but it can be serious.

But how do you really know if you have it? Well, here are some typical signs and symptoms. Take a look and see if you think you fit into these categories:

  1. Control Issues.
  2. Inability to show affection.
  3. Lack of sense of belonging.
  4. Sense of distrust.
  5. Withdrawal from connections.
  6. Anger problems.
  7. Inability to create and maintain relationships of all kinds.
  8. Feelings of loneliness or emptiness.
  9. Inability to understand emotions.
  10. Craving love, but an inability to give or receive it.

Even if you think you have RAD, that doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of loneliness. Obviously, these symptoms cause a person stress, but there are ways to treat the disorder.

Wha Causes Reactive Attachment Disorder in Adults & What Are The Risks Associated with It?

As I stated earlier, reactive attachment disorder starts in early childhood. Here are some situations that a child might have gone through who would end up developing RAD:


  1. Living in an orphanage, children’s home, or similar situation.
  2. Having prolonged separation from parents or caregivers for a variety of reasons.
  3. Frequently changing caregivers or being in foster homes.
  4. Having parents with significant health problems, substance abuse issues, or criminal behavior.

How It May Affect Your Dating Life as You Get Older?

Even though it might sound like you are never going to have a successful romantic relationship if you have RAD, that is not true. But it all starts with understanding it and admitting that you have it.

Since you are not very good at attaching to people, you will find yourself not behaving like a “typical” person. Here are some things you might do if you have RAD:

  1. Little Emotional Investment

You probably don’t feel very excited by the person you’re dating, or even if you do, you don’t show it to the other person. You seem aloof and detached to them, which signals that you are not emotionally invested in them. In other words, you come across as a “I could take them or leave them” kind of attitude.

  1. Lack of Emotional Support

Perhaps the person you are dating had a bad day at work or is experiencing something else that they find emotional. You might not recognize their distress, and even if you do, it might make you uncomfortable and not know what to do about it.

  1. Reluctance to Share or Self-Disclose

You don’t like talking about yourself – especially your feelings. You find that opening up and sharing things about yourself is risky. You might even think that if you tell someone things about yourself, they could use it against you someday, so you don’t like doing it. As a result, you can’t grow any emotional intimacy in a relationship.

  1. Avoidance of Physical Intimacy

Even if you like physical intimacy and sex, you might shy away from it because it feels too intimate for you. Let’s face it – there’s not much that is more intimate than sharing your body with another person. And because it’s just “too close for comfort,” you tend to avoid it. Obviously, this could cause problems in a relationship.

  1. Lack of Empathy

Empathy is the ability to put yourself into another person’s shoes and see the world from their point of view. It is different than sympathy where you feel sorry for someone. It’s actually feeling things the way they feel them. And you’re probably not too good at that either.

  1. Lack of Remorse

Maybe you said you were going to call, and you didn’t. Or you were late for a date. Perhaps you canceled a date at the last minute. You don’t really see any big deal with this. You probably have no remorse because you don’t understand how your actions affect the other person.


Tips to Follow In Dating If You Have RAD  

If you think you have RAD, don’t worry. There are ways you can control your issues so they don’t come roaring out while you are on a date (or in between dates).

  1. Take Baby Steps

Don’t expect to change overnight. You have spent a whole lifetime being like this, so changing some of your issues related to RAD will take time. Be patient with yourself but also stay mindful of your behavior and feelings at all times.

  1. Communicate with Your Dates

After you get to know your date a little, you might want to talk about your RAD issues. You don’t have to go into a lot of detail, but just let them know that your behaviors aren’t about them, but rather about you. So, they shouldn’t take it personally.

  1. Seek Professional Help

It’s really difficult to solve all your emotional issues by yourself. A lot of people think that seeing a therapist shows weakness, but actually, it shows strength. You would be surprised how helpful a professional would be in getting over your attachment problems.

How Working With a Dating Coach Can Help with Reactive Attachment Disorder in Adults

Working with a therapist can help you overcome some of the feelings and uncover some of the root problems that lead you to having this disorder. But working with a dating coach can also help you quite a bit as well.

A dating coach can help you look into your past and uncover the common actions you have when starting a romantic relationship. You might not be able to recognize that some of your behaviors are actually sabotaging a relationship. But the dating coach can see it a mile away.

Once you and the dating coach have uncovered your patterns, you can then work together to find strategies to overcome the negative habits in order to turn them into positive ones. It really just takes awareness and some practice on your part as well as your coach’s.

I’ve you think you’re ready to work with a dating coach, I’d be happy to help. Schedule a new client session on my calendar today. During our session, we’ll diagnose your dating history, talk about your issues with RAD, create an action plan, and see if my 3-month coaching program is a fit to help you achieve your long term dating goals.

How To Overcome/Improve/Heal Adult Reactive Attachment Disorder?

As I stated earlier, sometimes it’s difficult to overcome mental and emotional disorders by yourself. Typically, a person does much better if they see a psychologist or therapist that can them through the process.


A therapist might do what’s called attachment therapy with you. Attachment therapy is a subset of techniques for attachment disorders, including RAD.

With treatment, people with this disorder can develop more stable and healthy relationships with other people, including romantic relationships. The counseling commonly includes psychological counseling, parent or caregiver counseling (if applicable), education, and exercises.

Final Thoughts

If you think you might have RAD, you should take some action. Call a therapist and set up a session with a dating coach. You can and will overcome your attachment issues, but only if you start to work on yourself.