There are a ton of different ways people handle breakups. Some people rely on their bestie to help them get over a breakup, while others focus on eating healthy after a breakup to feel great and maybe even obtain a revenge body a la Khloe Kardashian. But no matter your coping mechanism, your childhood and human nature have a lot more to do with your breakup style as an adult than you might think. A study conducted by researchers at Pace University found that the way people deal with romantic loss is correlated to their attachment style, which is the way we relate to and rely on others.


Our attachment style is formed early in our lives, between us and our main caretaker/s (usually our parents), according to a Psychology Today article. And we’re talking really early on — the way our primary caregiver responded to us when we cried as babies started forming the patterns of an attachment style. “These attachment patterns become internal working models that affect how we relate as adults in our romantic relationships,” writes Dr. Lisa Firestone in the article.


The Pace University study boiled down this concept into three attachment styles, which contribute to how people cope with breakups in different ways.

1. Avoidant attachment: People with avoidant attachment usually grew up with parents who were emotionally unavailable. This environment causes a person to tend to resist being emotionally close to others. Therefore, someone with an avoidant attachment style usually handles breakups well — at least, it seems that way on the outside.

2. Anxious attachment: Anxious attachment is created when a child has a parent who wavers between being nurturing and insensitive. In these cases, the child learns to rely on their parent with the knowledge that they will eventually get their needs met. In adulthood, those with an anxious attachment style may be more needy or desperate toward their partners. This desperation means these types of people are often more likely to be insecure or fear rejection. So, perhaps not surprisingly, the study found that people with an anxious attachment style experienced the worst effects from romantic breakups.

3. Disorganized attachment: Disorganized attachment styles are rooted in childhoods that include a parent who is unapproachable and stressed. Oftentimes, children will learn that they cannot rely on their parent for basic needs. As a result, these people might be fearful of attachment. If someone tries to get too close, those with disorganized attachment styles might retreat. In fact, they could be the ones causing the breakup.

Even though your upbringing is a factor in how you handle romantic loss, there’s good news: Your attachment style is not fixed. By developing secure attachments to people, working on your emotional intelligence and coming to terms with the past, you can give yourself a pretty good chance of getting over the breakup hump.

Have any tips for overcoming your style of attachment? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)