How to Move On After a Breakup by Developing New Attachments

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For those of you who are struggling to get over a past relationship, I have to say that I really sympathize with what you’re going through. Breakups can be very hard, especially when you’ve developed a close bond. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help you to move on. Here are some tips on how to get over your ex based on what researchers know about attachment.

Often, the hardest part about getting over a romantic partner is letting go of the person as an attachment figure – i.e., a person who you rely on for validation and support. Having others who we can trust to be there for us is one of our most basic needs as human beings. But because these relationships tend to be so close and intimate, most people have only a handful of attachment-based relationships. Furthermore, many people have what we call a primary attachment figure – a person who they are more likely to rely on than others. And for people in romantic relationships, that primary attachment figure tends to be the romantic partner.

Romantic partners generally make great attachment figures because romantic relationships tend to involve so much intimacy, closeness, and interdependence. Indeed, some researchers argue that the whole reason why human adults even have attachment systems is so that they can form these intense attachments to romantic partners. Given the tremendous strength of these attachment bonds, you can see why they can be difficult to let go of, even if a person knows that they do not want to be with their romantic partner anymore.

If you’re not sure if you still rely on your ex as an attachment figure, try this exercise. Imagine that something really distressing happens to you – you’re upset and you don’t know what to do. Who do you want to turn to for support? Now, imagine that you just won the lottery. Who do you most want to celebrate with? Was your ex the first person who came to mind? Both times? If so, then your ex is definitely still your primary attachment figure. It will be difficult to get over him or her until that is no longer the case.

So if the problem here is attachment, then how do you “detach”? The best way is to replace your ex with other people whom you care about and may assume the role of primary attachment figure. In other words, train yourself not to rely on your ex by spending more time with other supportive people in your life…

Read more: Samantha Joel MA,  Psychology Today

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