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Entries in adult attachment (22)

Thursday
Jun192014

Is There Hope for the Insecurely Attached?

I can recall the specific day that sparked my endless pursuit to understand attachment and relationships. I was sitting in an undergraduate class lecture when my professor introduced the concept of attachment styles (read more about attachment styles here). I was so intrigued. The professor explained that roughly 50-60% of the population is securely attached. I began to do the math. If roughly 50-60% of the population is deemed secure, where does that leave the other 40–50%? 

Does that mean that nearly half of the population is doomed to a lifetime of insecure relationships?

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Sunday
Sep082013

You're Insecurely Attached, Charlie Brown

Monday
Apr082013

Can't We Just Enjoy the Limited Time We Have Left in Our Relationship?

My girlfriend of 10 months just broke up with me a few days ago. This has been her longest relationship. She had never lasted longer than 3 months with anyone prior because she is an independent girl and is afraid of commitment. For whatever reason, our relationship is different. We fell in love with each other and have had our ups and downs. However, the ever looming fact that we are both about to graduate from college this May and going to different states afterwards has been her main concern.

She claims that she has not felt the same about me lately and that she is tired of fighting for something that is going to end. This is not the first time she has broken up with me because of this, but it is definitely more serious and evident this time around. She says that I love her more than she loves me and that she now only loves me as a friend. The decision to break up was purely hers and now I am heart broken.

I plan on waiting a couple of weeks with no contact with her. If she does not break silence, then I'd like to at least meet up one more time to see if she might have reconsidered and if we can at least spend the rest of the semester together and make the best of it. I just want to be with her and not waste what we have together.

I am really sorry to hear about your heart being broken. It is always hard to end relationships, especially when you had already accepted that your time together was limited to begin with. Based on the information you provided, it sounds as if your ex-girlfriend has a very avoidant attachment style.

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Tuesday
Nov132012

Breaking Up is Easy to Do…If You Have a Smartphone

John Mayer is apparently a trend-setter among celebrities. The singer/guitarist reportedly dumped Katy Perry by email and Jennifer Aniston with a text message (recommendation: if you are dating John Mayer, hide his iPhone). And Taylor Swift is said to have been the recipient of a break up voicemail (although not from Mr. Mayer). Is this form of calling it quits isolated to just our friends in the entertainment industry or is it common among the rest of us?

Have you ever been dumped over email? Would you text a (soon-to-be-former) partner to let them know it was over? heyyy we r over bye. Technology provides many options for communicating a desire to break up while allowing us to avoid the awkwardness of dumping someone face-to-face. But how often do people use technology to break up, and are some people more likely to do it than others (or be the recipient of it)?

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Monday
Sep172012

Too Fast Too Soon?

Q: I just got dumped by my girlfriend a couple weeks ago. It was a short relationship (3 months) which started out slow but gradually ramped up in intensity as we started spending more time together. Things seemed to be going great right up until she dumped me. We were making plans together for the future - trips we were going to take, dates we were going to go on. She seemed very much as "into" the relationship as I was - sending loving texts and buying me gifts. Then all of a sudden, as if overnight, she got cold and distant, and then she dumped me the next day.

I was totally blindsided and heartbroken by her actions. How can someone seem so into you in one instant and decide they don't want it in the next? And how come this hurts just as much as a breakup of a long term relationship, even though we were only together for a few months?

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Friday
Sep072012

You’re Sexy When We Fight

Many people assume that having conflict in a relationship reduces sexual desire and relationship satisfaction. Yet, conflict may also present a constructive opportunity for partners to discuss important relationship issues, or it may simply create a general sense of arousal that transforms into sexual excitement. 

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Tuesday
Aug212012

Sometimes a Cigar is Just An…Unsupportive Partner

Ever dream about your significant other? What was the dream like? Was it happy or painful?

For my dissertation project (published in Attachment & Human Development), I wanted to study the dreams people have about their romantic partners, and how those dreams relate to secure or insecure attachment.

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Tuesday
Jul172012

Responsiveness and Desire for Sex: The Goldilocks Phenomenon

Gurit Birnbaum presented research on how a partner’s responsiveness (in other words, their emotional availability and supportiveness) influences a person’s desire for sex with them during a first impression, and how this differs based on attachment style and gender.

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Sunday
Jul152012

How Does Your Attachment Influence Your Sexual Relationships?

I saw a symposium of researchers who used attachment theory to explain differences in sexual behavior. In general, people high on attachment anxiety or avoidance (in other words, more insecure folks) have less satisfying sexual experiences.

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Wednesday
Jun202012

Was Barack Obama “Avoidant” in His Youth?

A newly released biography of Barack Obama by David Maraniss has drawn attention (see coverage here and here) to the president’s past. There’s nothing necessarily scandalous in the book, but it does focus on the relationships Obama had before he met Michelle. As a relationship scientist, this is a really cool (and rare) glimpse into Obama’s romantic life through the stories of young women who shared intimate moments with him.

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Monday
Jun182012

The Consultant Returns: Are We Birds of a Feather?

The Consultant was back in town this week and invited me for dinner and a show. The last time I saw him was over two weeks ago for our first date, so I was excited. He picked me up wearing a suit and carrying a bouquet of flowers. Very nice. My mother, who lives with me and was watching my children for the night, was impressed.

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Monday
Jun112012

How Do I Get Over My Ex?

My ex and I work in the same restaurant, and while we have different jobs there, we still have a lot of contact. We broke up three months ago after being together since last May. She was by my side while I battled testicular cancer and we became really close. Since then we have been hanging out pretty much the same amount as we did when we were together and would occasionally hook up. This is my first real relationship and my first real breakup so I’m not really sure how to handle myself, and working together just makes everything more complicated. I’ve recently come to the realization that I am better off without her and don’t want to get back together with her but thinking about her with other guys is extremely unnerving. I don’t want to become a crazy ex-boyfriend and I need some advice: please help!

First of all, I have to say that I really sympathize with what you’re going through. Breakups can be very hard, especially when you’ve developed a close bond. The upside is that you know for sure that you do not want the relationship to continue, and making that decision really is half the battle. The other half of the battle is moving on. I’m going to give you some tips on how to get over your ex based on what researchers know about attachment.

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Monday
May142012

The Dependency Paradox

Those who know me best understand that I am a deeply philosophical person. One of my favorite topics in the science of relationships is an existential paradox, or what Dr. Brooke Feeney calls “The Dependency Paradox.”

As I described in a previous post, humans have a fundamental need for connection to others, or “relatedness.” But we also need “autonomy” (a sense of independence and the feeling that we have personal control over our behavior). Intuition tells us that these needs are distinct, and possibly conflicting. But the “paradox hypothesis” suggests the opposite—people who are more dependent on their partners for support actually experience more independence and autonomy, not less. Logically this is a contradiction, but only to the untrained eye.

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Thursday
Feb232012

I’m Watching You on Facebook: Attachment and Partner Surveillance

Facebook helps you stay connected with friends and family, but some people also use it to keep tabs on their romantic partners. Anxiously attached people are more likely to use Facebook to monitor their partners’ behaviors and are more jealous about their partners’ Facebook use (e.g., if the partner is still friends with a former boyfriend/girlfriend). Conversely, avoidant people show the opposite pattern; they monitor their partners less and feel less jealousy.

(A note to you anxious folks out there: if it will help you feel better, please don’t be afraid to spend lots of time monitoring the SofR Facebook page; avoidants are welcome too.)

Marshall, T. C., Bejanyan, K., Di Castro, G., & Lee, R. A. (in press). Attachment styles as predictors of Facebook-related jealousy and surveillance in romantic relationships. Personal Relationships.

Monday
Feb202012

Sensitive Parental Care In Childhood Predicts Better Relationships In Adulthood

We’ve written a few articles on the effect of attachment style on adult relationships (see here for a primer on attachment and here for all attachment articles). To recap, attachment style represents the ways in which we relate to the people we care about. Some people tend to be open and trusting (secure attachment), some people tend to be more needy and insecure (anxious attachment), and yet others prefer to keep their distance (avoidant attachment). Researchers know that people’s attachment styles can explain a lot about the roots of their behavior in their relationships.1 But where do these attachment styles come from?

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Tuesday
Feb072012

Valentine’s Day Gifts: Pleasure or Obligation?

image source: askmen.comDo you enjoy giving Valentine’s Day gifts? Or is it an unpleasant obligation? Your feelings about giving presents depends on your attachment style. Across two studies, secure people reported that giving gifts to partners was more pleasurable and not done out of obligation. Conversely, people high in avoidance experienced less pleasure, whereas those high in anxiety felt more obligated to give gifts, possibly because they feared losing their partners when their relationships weren’t going well.

Nguyen, H. P., & Munch, J. M. (2011). Romantic gift giving as a chore or pleasure: The effects of attachment orientations on gift giving perceptions. Journal of Business Research, 64, 113-118.

Thursday
Jan262012

How Do I Stop Being “Clingy?”

Hi! -- I did some research on attachment styles and I realized I fell into the preoccupied quadrant. Something associated with preoccupied people that I realized I do myself is become more clingy as I feel the other person drawing away. Is there anyway to stop this?

-"Preoccupied Lady"

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Monday
Jan092012

Attachment: A "Bittersweet Symphony" or "Unwritten"?

"Just how stable are attachment styles?" This question is raised every year by my students. Some ask because they are curious if attachment styles are similar to personality traits. Others wonder if attachment styles imply destiny with their relationship outcomes. Yet others are certain that attachment styles are flexible and malleable, changing with context, situations, or partners. Others hope that attachment can be changed, or even overwritten entirely. It turns out these questions aren't that different from the ones attachment theorists have debated for decades.

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Wednesday
Nov302011

How to Not “Get Played”

Recently, a female friend asked me: “Can you write an article on how to not get played?” When I asked for further clarification on the word “played,” she defined it as something to the effect of “used, lied to, and/or cheated on.” I’ll try my best.

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Thursday
Sep292011

Attachment and Breakups: The Whole Matters More Than the Parts

Thinking about the recent meta-analysis on breakups in dating couples, one of the interesting findings of that study was that someone’s attachment “style” (whether someone is secure or insecure) doesn’t predict whether that person’s relationship will last or end. It would seem that people who are secure would have longer lasting relationships, and insecure people would be more vulnerable to breakups. But the picture is a little bit more complicated (and interesting) than that.

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