What is Attachment Injury and The Attachment Injury Repair (Affair Recovery)?

An attachment injury is an emotional wound to an intimate, interdependent relationship. It usually happens after a breach of trust—particularly in a time of need or a moment of loss or transition. Once an attachment injury occurs, it can leave one or both partners feeling betrayed or abandoned.

Like a physical injury, an attachment injury is usually the result of a specific incident. The incident could be something obvious such as infidelity. The injury could be caused by one partner’s unexpected reaction to a pregnancy, miscarriage, or a diagnosis such as cancer, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An attachment injury also could be more subtle and seemingly insignificant, such as being left out of a family photo, not getting a “happy anniversary” call during a deployment, or having a deployment homecoming experience that falls short of what one of you expected.

Also, attachment injuries range from infidelity to physical or emotional absence during a time of critical emotional need. An attachment injury is defined as a specific relational incident, where one partner is inaccessible or unresponsive to offer comfort and caring in a particular moment of need, shattering the bond of trust between intimates.

Hurt is a mixture of anger, sadness and fear of loss and it's an important part of attachment injury. Typically, a sense of devaluing the importance of the relationship (Vangelisti, 2009).

The Attachment Injury Resolution Model (AIRM) seeks to help couples process and integrate emotions associated with injury and restore connections with loved ones that become a safe haven and source for healing.

I am part of the Affair Recovery Therapy Center, which you can head to for more resources.