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Thursday
May122011

“Sexting,” Anxious Attachment, and Relationship Expectations

With the proliferation of smart phones, “sexting” is on the increase. Even Brett Farve (allegedly) and the (former) mayor of Detroit have gotten caught up in the craze! But who is likely to sext with their partners? A new research paper examines sexting and its association with adult attachment.

In their study, Weisskirch and Delevi assessed the attachment dimensions of anxiety and avoidance. Anxious individuals tend to strongly desire relationships and want to be especially close to their partners, while avoidant people generally desire less closeness, are less trusting and less reliant on their partners. The researchers also measured past sexting behaviors and identified three general sets of beliefs about sexting:  that it is (1) carefree and fun (“sexting is just part of flirting”), (2) that there are perceived risks involved (“sending sexually racy pictures leaves me vulnerable”), and (3) it is expected in relationships (“my romantic partners expect me to send sexually racy texts”).

Their results indicated that those high in attachment anxiety were more likely to have sent sext messages. In addition, anxious participants thought that sexting was a normal part of romantic relationships. However, avoidance was not associated with sexting beliefs or behavior. So, if you’re looking for a partner who will sext with you, your best bet is to find someone high in anxiety!

Interested in learning more about relationships? Click here for other topics on Science of Relationships. Like us on Facebook to get our articles delivered directly to your NewsFeed.

Weisskirch, R. S., & Delevi, R. (2011). ‘‘Sexting’’ and adult romantic attachment. Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 1697-1701. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2011.02.008

Dr. Benjamin Le - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Le's research focuses on commitment, including the factors associated with commitment and its role in promoting maintenance. He has published on the topics of breakup, geographic separation, infidelity, social networks, cognition, and need fulfillment and emotions in relationships.

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