Ever wonder how someone you know and love (sometimes for years) can just suddenly change and not care about or love you anymore? I know I’m not the only one who does! Well, there are “attachment styles” which help explain why some people do/can do this and why others feel so hurt and heartbroken when it happens. Below is an excerpt from an article in Psychology Today that offers some insight (I’m still looking for the article to provide the link for further reading and credit.)
[…]A second type of angst a break-up may cause occurs when the attachment is superficial for one person, but hearty for the other person. Essentially, the person with the avoidant or anxious attachment style pretends to know, care, and validate who the other person is in order to woo them and reel them in, but may not actually authentically care. It is more about manipulation in order to gain control. In this situation, the person that superficially attaches may sever the relationship easily and without a care. The person who attaches heartily, however, feels the loss profoundly. The hurt is then compounded when they become aware that their partner does not feel the loss significantly, and is able to move on without any trouble. Feelings of abandonment in this scenario may elicit intense emotional pain.
In many instances, a person with a secure attachment style develops hearty attachments to people in their partner’s life, such as friends, parents, siblings, and step-children. The severing of multiple attachments when the relationship ends may cause extreme strife and feelings of loss. They are not only losing one person, but multiple people in their support system. This is overwhelmingly devastating.
Also embedded in a break-up is a loss of future hopes and plans. Starting over is tough. Angst regarding the time invested in the relationship stings too. Realizing your perception of the person is false because they seemed like they really cared but ended up as hurtful and cold evokes emotional turmoil as well.
These are difficult things for a person to deal with. People who feel heart broken after a break up are typically people who attach heartily and that is a valiant quality.
Erin Leonard, Ph.D