The One Thing To Do To Get Over A Breakup, Based On Your Attachment Style

by Kristine Fellizar
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We all deal with breakups in different ways. Some healthy, some not so much. But if you've ever wondered why some people can't seem to get over it for a long time while others can easily shake it off and move on, there is a psychology behind it. In fact, your attachment style can say a lot about how you react to breakups, as well as what you need in order to heal and move on.

"Styles of attachment are patterns in how we 'attach' to or connect with others," psychologist Linda Baggett, PhD tells Bustle. These attachment styles are formed with your primary caregivers — usually mothers but not always — and can affect how you are in your adult relationships.

There are four major attachment styles to know: secure (happy and feels needs are met in relationships), avoidant (emotionally distant and believes needs won't be met in relationships), ambivalent (anxious and unsure about needs being met in relationships), and disorganized (non-responsive, passive, and sometimes angry). If you are wondering which you are, there are a few questions that can help you learn more.

With that said, it's no surprise that each attachment style responds to heartbreak and the ending of a romantic relationship differently. So here's how each attachment style reacts to breakups and what they need to do in order to cope in the quickest and healthiest way possible, according to experts.


Secure Attachment

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As you can guess, a secure attachment style is easily the healthiest among the bunch. According to Jacob Kountz, Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee and Clinic Manager at CSU Bakersfield, people with secure attachment have a higher likelihood of responding to breakups in healthy ways. "[They are] likely secure with themselves, which is very important with breakups," Kountz says. "If one is secure with themselves enough during this experience, meaning they're confident and comfortable being single, there is less of a chance of someone who resonates with this style to have a debilitating reaction."

Make no mistake, people with secure attachment will still feel brokenhearted and emotional. But as Dr. Baggett says, they have it in themselves to recognize that things will get better in time.

"In general, the best way to cope with a breakup is to be gentle with yourself, allow yourself to feel ALL the feelings, seek support, try to distract yourself with pleasant activities, and let time heal," she says. If you have a secure attachment style, remind yourself that even if the breakup hurts right now, it just means that your partner wasn't your "person." "The hurt will fade with time," she says.


Avoidant Attachment

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"Interestingly enough, avoidant attachment styles may produce similar behaviors as someone who is secure with themselves, but for different reasons," Kountz says. People with avoidant attachment may have already put disance between themselves and their significant other throughout the relationship. "Someone with this style may generally accept the separation as if it was going to happen anyway," he says.

To break it down even further, those with dismissive-avoidant attachment may be upset that the companionship and/or sexual aspect of the relationship is coming to an end. Those who are fearful-avoidant may feel like they don't deserve a good relationship and "shouldn't" have let themselves get too close because breakups are inevitable.

If you're dismissive-avoidant and bummed out over the companionship or sex ending, Dr. Baggett recommends for you to find companionship in other ways. "If distressed by the pattern of relationships ending because their partner is not OK with the lack of emotional intimacy and they want to personally work on that, it’s going to require taking a hard look at their lack of interest in intimacy and learning why intimacy can be something worth pursuing," she says.

If you're fearful-avoidant, Dr. Baggett suggests for you to seek extra support from people who love and value you. "Have them remind you all the reasons why you DO deserve a healthy relationship to challenge the belief that you don’t," she says. "Get support around the fact that the relationship ended because the person wasn’t right for you and [possibly] because ... you had difficulty letting people in and trusting, NOT because this is what all close relationships are destined to become."


Ambivalent/Anxious Attachment

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Those with an ambivalent attachment may get into a state of confusion where they ask themselves whether the fault is with them or their partner. "Depending on the upbringing and how [they cope] with ambivalent thoughts and feelings about situations will depend on their initial reaction with a breakup," Kountz says. If they feel like the breakup was their fault, they may end up feeling deeply anxious about it.

According to Dr. Baggett, those with anxious attachment styles have the hardest time letting go. "They tend to get very upset when a relationship ends and may continue to contact their ex and pursue reconciliation to the point of forcing the ex to cut them off and set firm boundaries," she says. They're also most likely to end up in on-again, off-again relationships.

If you have an anxious or ambivalent attachment style, she recommends for you to put whatever strategies you can think of in place to NOT continue contacting your ex. Stop pursuing reconciliation. "If this means blocking their number, giving your phone to a friend when you’re under the influence (to avoid the dreaded drunk texting), and avoiding driving by [they're] house, whatever, do it," she says. If anything, force yourself to let go of those behaviors. Then, find healthy strategies to help you cope with any anxiety you feel for not having a partner. If needed, therapy is a good long-term option that can help you find effective ways to feel less dependent on relationships in order to feel valued.


Disorganized Attachment

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A disorgnized attachment style stems from a complicated childhood that may have included trauma. According to Kountz, those who resonate with this attachment style may react to breakups in an unhealthy fashion. They may close themselves off from others and hold in their thoughts and feelings. In general, they may be unsure of what to make of what happened and accept it passively.

If you have a disorganized attachment style, breakups can cause you to act out in unhealthy ways. If you can, opening up to those you trust can be really helpful. Seeking professional help can also help you deal with any attachment issues you had since childhood.

"In general, there's not a one size fits all recipe," Kountz says. "Do what it is you need to do to cope, safely." If you keep getting into the same pattern over and over again and nothing changes, do something different. "Ultimately, you will want to get creative, ask for help, surround yourself with good people, nature, exercise, healthy eating habits and do something you enjoy and makes you feel purposeful," he says.

The one really great thing about attachment styles is, you're not stuck with a non-secure style forever. It may be challenging and will require a ton of inner work on your part, but you can move forward in healthy ways.