I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me: Attachment Disorders To Watch Out For

Updated April 10, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Hearing someone say, “I hate you, don’t leave me,” can be extremely confusing, especially when your loved one says it to you. On the one hand, your partner says they hate you, but then they say they do not want you to leave. Well, which is it? Why would your partner say they hate you? Is it possible for them both to be true? For those with a mental health or attachment disorder, the answer is yes. It may be an  caused by something that happened during their childhood. It could also be a borderline personality disorder shaking things up in your relationship. Figuring this out for sure takes a mental health professional, but it will not hurt to learn a few things before talking to your partner about getting some help. If you want to cope with attachment issues, continue to read below.

Why do they say I hate you, don’t leave me?

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Attachment disorders can be hard to identify

When your loved one gives you the mixed message, “I hate you, don’t leave me,” they are essentially asking for your help. They do not really hate you, of course. They are just confused and possibly mad at you about something. But they do not hate you. Hate is a strong word for anyone to say, but when managing a mental health disorder, these words are typically an automatic response, and not what they really mean. 

When they say, “I hate you, don’t leave me,” understanding what is going on in their head at the time is difficult. It is understandable if you want to get some space when they are talking to you this way. Do your best to not walk away or tell them that you are available, but not at this very moment. However, even though your partner clearly needs help, do not push the issue right away if they are not ready to admit it. They cannot change without wanting to, but you can talk to a therapist yourself about what to do in this confusing relationship.

An exhausting roller coaster relationship

Trying to deal with your partner’s constant mood swings, paranoia, and accusations can be exhausting. Maybe there were signs that this may be a problem early in the relationship. You may have thought it was sweet when your loved one got jealous of your coworker when they complimented you or maybe when they wanted to be with you all the time. It may have been cute to see her pouting when you wanted to go out with your friends after work. In fact, early in the relationship, you probably encouraged it because everything was new, and you wanted to be with them all the time too. But enough is enough, right? You cannot be expected to stay home forever or take them with you everywhere.

Understanding their feelings

Think about it this way, when they say, “I hate you, don’t leave me,” understanding their frame of mind at the time is important for both of you. Even though it hurts to hear them say that they hate you, knowing that they do not want you to leave means something too. They are really saying that they love you, and if you have been together for a while, you know that this is true. But maybe something happened to cause their feelings of fear of abandonment to emerge. In someone with an attachment disorder, this can quickly turn into a meltdown. Remember that there most likely is an underlying mental health obstacle that is causing these contradictory emotions.  However, you need a mental health professional to figure it out for sure, unless they have been diagnosed. If you are aware that they have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder or an attachment disorder, keep in mind that these confusing messages are rooted in their mental health disorder and do you best to resolve with understanding. 

Attachment styles explained

According the American Psychological Association, attachment is the emotional bond that develops between an infant and their parent figure or caregiver reflected by a calmness when in the presence of their primary caregiver. When this bond is not securely attached, a child may development an attachment disorder. There are , three of which reflect an insecure attachment that occurred during infancy or childhood and can lead to unhealthy relationship behaviors in adulthood.  These attachment styles are often called by different names depending on which psychological theorist is writing about them.  For this article, we will refer to these styles as follows:

  • Autonomous attachment
  • Ambivalent attachment
  • Avoidant attachment
  • Disorganized attachment

The three unhealthy styles, ambivalent attachment style, avoidant attachment style, and disorganized attachment style can be confusing no matter which side of the relationship you are on. If your partner has of these three attachment styles, your relationship probably has gone through drama, breakups, and reunifications. Let’s look at the four attachment styles more closely.

Autonomous attachment style


Adults with this style of connection were securely attached to their caregivers and did not experience an event (or series of events) that caused them to fear losing an attachment or confusing message growing up. Often referred to as secure attachment, autonomous attachment means that you are comfortable with who you are and with your relationships.. You do not have any issues getting close to someone and do not mind when others depend on you. Being alone is not a problem for you either as you have healthy self-esteem and do not worry whether others will reject you. You trust others and have long-lasting healthy relationships.

Ambivalent attachment style

Those who were cared for sometimes and ignored other times as babies or children will typically grow up with an ambivalent attachment style. This attachment style leaves both parties confused most of the time, not knowing whether they are happy or not. The ambivalent type is suspicious of others and does not trust anyone. But they want so badly to be in a relationship that they become clingy and needy. In fact, this is the type of attachment style of the person you would hear, saying, “I hate you, don’t leave me.” They worry that you will leave them, but they do not seem to want you there anyway when you are there.

Avoidant attachment style

If your loved one has trouble relying on others and does not want anyone to depend on them, this is probably their attachment style. The avoidant attachment style includes overly independent and does not like to be too close to anyone, which is why loving someone with avoidant attachment can be frustrating and hopeless. They see themselves as important, self-sufficient individuals who believe that having to rely on anyone leads to a loss of independence. Although they seem to be level-headed and stable, they are distant, aloof, and can appear compulsive and controlling. They do not like talking about feelings or emotions.

Disorganized unresolved attachment style

Disorganized attachment is an attachment problem that develops due to an infant getting insufficient care and support in early childhood. As a result, they will develop an uncertain attachment to their caregiver. This will cause an infant to shy away from their primary attachment figure -- instead of clinging to them for safety. A disorganized style of attachment and personality functioning will follow them into adulthood relationships. One of the signs of attachment that is disorganized and personality disorders in adulthood is the tendency to shy away from close relationships. 

Attachment disorders can be hard to identify

This may be the most confusing attachment style since they can go from one mood to the other quickly. They may have other comorbid disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from being mistreated or abused as an infant or child. They may be argumentative, antisocial, and even abusive at times. Substance use disorder is common as they try to self-medicate their PTSD or other issues. Those with disorganized unresolved attachment styles do not like to follow the rules, do not care if they hurt others, and are easily angered.

If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or Text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat

If you or someone you know is or might be living with a substance use disorder, please contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Borderline personality disorder

Another theory that explains the “I hate you, don’t leave me” paradox is that your partner is managing borderline personality disorder. In fact, clinical theorists suggest that having an unhealthy attachment style is one of signs of borderline personality disorder. They claim that the symptoms of ambivalent, avoidant, or disorganized unresolved attachment styles are commonly seen in those with a borderline personality disorder. Other signs of borderline personality disorder include fear of abandonment, a pattern of unstable relationships, impulsiveness, risky behavior, and mood swings. In fact, those with this disorder can have periods of intense anger, rage, and fighting, alternating with feeling hopeless, empty, and depressive symptoms.

I Hate You, Don't Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality Disorder

You can get a bit more insight into the conundrum of borderline personality disorder by reading the "I Hate You — Don’t Leave Me” book written by Dr. Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus. This is an excellent book for someone trying to understand the complicated relationship of loving someone with a borderline personality disorder. They give you some tips on how to tell whether you or your loved one has a borderline personality disorder, what you can do to defuse the situations that arise, and where to go when you need help. The following is an excerpt from the book: 

"For many [people with] borderline, 'out of sight, out of mind' is an excruciatingly real truism. Panic sets in when [they are] separated from a loved one because the separation feels permanent," says Jerold J. Kreisman, "Although the [person] may not be consciously aware of this dilemma, [they] frequently place a friend or relation in a no-win situation in which the other person is condemned no matter which way [they] go.”

People managing borderline personality disorder often live with an intense fear that their loved will abandon them. You may have felt the strain of being in a relationship with someone managing this fear, because they check on you often and may overreact when you are simply going to the grocery store. Thus, “Don’t leave me!” Then, they may be so overwhelmed with these feelings that they are tempted to break up with you and say, “I hate you!” 

Your attachment style is thought to be set in stone when you were a child in how your parents or other caregivers cared for you. However, not everything is set in stone. There is help for those with an unhealthy attachment style. Attachment therapy is available and can help anyone who wants to try.

Attachment-focused therapy

Even if you have heard repeatedly that you cannot change your attachment style, there is no way to find out unless you try. There is hope for anyone who wants to change. Attachment-focused therapy can help you identify the source of your attachment challenges and help you to change your negative thought patterns or behaviors that keep you from forming secure connections as an adult. 

In attachment-based therapy, you create strategies to grow a healthy pattern of attachment with those close to you. Under the safe guidance of a professional therapist, you can examine the fearful or confusing thoughts that arise in your relationship and learn how to understand them. During therapy sessions, you most likely will develop a plan to help your change your behaviors to feel good about yourself and improve your communication with your significant other. 

If you are unable to meet with a therapist in-person, be confident in knowing that research supports the efficacy of online therapy. For example, online therapy has been shown to be as effective as in-person therapy, with people showing improved mental health disorder symptoms with regular talk-therapy sessions. If you or your loved one has an unhealthy attachment style, you can get therapy from a licensed therapist or counselor at Regain.us. Online therapy can be done from the comfort of your own home on your phone, laptop, or other electronic devices. Do not hesitate to set up an appointment with a therapist, especially if you are feeling like you cannot manage it on your own.  


If your partner is managing an unhealthy attachment style or a mental health disorder, such as borderline personality disorder, you probably have experienced moments where they threaten to push you away, only to ask for you to never leave them in the same span of time. This can be difficult to manage on your own. This article explained some reasons why your significant other may be acting this way. However, if you need more guidance, make an appointment with a therapist to get the support that you need.

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