How Can My Ex Move On So Quickly?

Considering attachment and emotional intelligence can help.

Posted Feb 14, 2021 | Reviewed by Abigail Fagan

Observing a partner fall for someone new immediately after a breakup is painful. The ease of his or her ability to move on is often devastating. It’s as if the relationship meant nothing.

Alternatively, a partner who is deeply connected is plagued with memories. The loss is overwhelming. Eating, sleeping, and functioning is a challenge. The pain feels insurmountable and everything seems to remind the person of the lost love, making it nearly impossible to focus. As time passes things get easier, but the loss is profound.

The two people embody polar opposite emotional responses to the dissolution of a once close union. This can be explained, in part, by attachment style. Generally, people who attach heartily and robustly often have the ability to get and stay close. Empathic, conscientious, and self-aware in the relationship, the person readily identifies and verbalizes his or her emotions and is able to remain attuned to a partner’s. Accountable, the person recognizes how actions and words impact a loved one and is diligent about working hard to mend a rupture in the relationship. These attributes comprise emotional intelligence.  

However, the opposite may be true of a partner who moves on without a care in the world. Initially, he seemed so enamored. Yet his kindness and interest grow inconsistent. His trouble identifying and discussing personal feelings results in a reluctance to truly open up and resolve conflict. The continual avoidance of uncomfortable emotions seems to compel the partner to routinely escape the demands of a close relationship by running to anything that provides a distraction.

He or she often plays the victim to excuse his or her emotional irresponsibility and often confuses control for closeness. This partner seemed proficient at getting close but due to deficits in his or her emotional availability struggles to maintain the closeness. These characteristics define a partner who may have deficits in emotional intelligence.  

The emotionally attuned person in a relationship usually feels a rift succinctly and his or her response is typically to work harder in the relationship. Yet an emotionally impaired partner is usually indifferent and claims “everything is fine.” The relationship suffers, but both parties try to hang on and weather the storm.

In this scenario, one party is more likely to “bail” than the other. A person who lacks emotional intelligence usually attaches at the surface because he or she lacks the emotional skills necessary to maintain authentic closeness in a relationship. Thus, it may be easier for him or her to unplug and reset with a new person. Going through the motions of getting close may be less taxing than sustaining actual closeness. This partner may flit from one relationship to the next, incapable of establishing the deep emotional roots that sustained closeness develops.

It is important to note that this type of partner may feel more comfortable with a person who also lacks emotional sophistication. Neither party is required to sustain authentic closeness and both enjoy focusing on outside pursuits that fuel their ego. If each party gratifies the other party’s superficial needs, the relationship may remain intact.

Yet an emotionally available partner who attaches to an emotionally unavailable partner may suffer. When the closeness and love vanish, it may cause intense panic. Often blaming himself or herself, the person clamors to recover the lost love, only to be abandoned and replaced in a matter of days.

After a breakup, it may help to interpret the gravity of the heartache as an indicator of the depth at which a person attached. Viewing the breakup through an attachment lens may also ease some pain. A person may not have been abandoned because there was something wrong with him or her. He or she may have been rejected because of something very right. The capacity for empathy, conscientiousness, and self-awareness allows for closeness in a relationship, attributes an emotionally unavailable partner may not be able to reciprocate. The mismatch in emotional capabilities may cause a chasm. One person copes with the fracture by trying harder and the other by exiting the relationship.

It is important for a person who attaches deeply and heartily to know that he or she is probably emotionally healthy. Possessing empathy for others and seeking to ease suffering with understanding is a gift. Although a person may feel inadequate after a breakup, it is important for him or her to know that emotional intelligence is a superpower. One that promotes healing, positivity, and empowerment. It may be necessary to find a love who also possesses this gift.

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