Adult Attachment and the Break-Up of Romantic Relationships

Malian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg*, Marinus H. van Ijzendoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The study of the break-up of romantic relationships was integrated into research on adults’ attachment representations. Eighty-three female subjects, currently married mothers of one child, were given the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; George, Kaplan, & Main, 1985), supplemented with questions about the break-up of relationships with former husbands or boyfriends. Subjects who were classified as Unresolved with respect to loss to death of a close person more often indicated that they had experienced the break-up of romantic relationships and they also reported a larger number of former relationships. All subjects who had former romantic relationships indicated that they-and not their partners-decided to break up the relationship. With a more exploratory aim, we examined whether the AAI scoring system for unresolved loss (Main, DeMoss, & Hesse, 1991) could also be used for determining whether subjects have come to terms with the break-up of a romantic relationship. Although scores could be assigned reliably, results could not easily be interpreted: Subjects who were classified as unresolved with respect to the breakup of a romantic relationship appeared to be more sociable, and less fearful. Subjects who were classified as unresolved due to a loss through death were more often classified as not unresolved regarding the break-up of their romantic relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-139
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Divorce and Remarriage
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Children of divorce
  • Positive parenting
  • Post divorce parenting
  • Stepparenting


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