Attachment Theory: Attachment Theory And Romantic Relationships

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Attachment theory and romantic relationship

The most salient person variable with regards to interpersonal relationships is the contact of attachment style, which is theoretically grounded in Bowlby's attachment theory. Attachment theory posits that when an infant is separated from the primary caregiver or attachment figure (usually the mother). A set of behaviors will ensue which serve the function of regaining proximity to the caregiver. This is known as the separation protest behavioral system (Bowlby, 1973). Separation protest is unique to attachment relationships. In that only where an attachment is present will the separation protest behaviors ensue (Bowlby, 1973, 1980, 1982).Attachment theory is grounded in evolutionary psychology,
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Moreover, Hazan and Shaver (1987, 2004) demonstrated that the same infant attachment styles occur in adulthood in relation to one's romantic partner, and that romantic love can be conceptualized as an attachment process (a process of becoming attached). They also found that love is experienced differently according to one's adult attachment style. Securely attached adults find closeness in romantic relationships easy and comfortable and depend on partners without fear of abandonment. Anxious/ambivalent adults often found that partners are hesitant to become as close as they would like them to and have strong desires for merger and union often scaring potential partner away. Avoidant adults are uncomfortable with closeness, trusting partners difficult and are uncomfortable with intimacy. Based on attachment theory, Kobak and Sceery (1 988) postulated that one’s history of regulating distress (i.e., coping) with childhood attachment figures will also carry over into adulthood. Infant separations from the attachment figure (mother) can be viewed as the first experience of coping with stress. If the childhood attachment figure has been responsive (secure), then distress can be regulated with active seeking of comfort and support if the attachment figures are not always responsive (anxious/ambivalent, avoidant), then other ways of coping must be used. Secure individuals because of their positive attachment history, effectively regulates negative affect; they acknowledge distress and turn to others for support in times of need. Insecure individuals (avoidant. anxious/ambivalent) on the other hand will use less than optimal means of affect regulation. Specifically, avoidant individuals will cut off anger and distress related symptoms: they won't acknowledge distress and won't attempt to seek support and comfort

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