Partners who have attachment issues cause considerable instability in their relationship, research finds.
One type, known as ‘attachment anxiety’ by psychologists, involves see-sawing feelings.
It is the same reason that babies cry when they are taken from their mothers.
Around one in five people have an anxious attachment style.
A classic sign is having wildly varying feelings about the relationship from one day to the next.
People experiencing attachment anxiety spend a lot of time thinking about what the other person wants.
They can easily move from feeling strongly attached, to wanting independence.
Ms Ashley Cooper, the study’s first author, said:
“For people anxious in their attachments, they have anxiety as to whether the person is going to be there for them and whether they are worthy of others.
I was interested in how attachment security impacted partners’ experiences in their relationship on a daily basis.
Some couples experience instability from one day to the next in their relationship, so we sought out to explore what could increase or decrease this volatility.”
The second problematic type is attachment avoidance.
This is someone who wants to avoid getting too attached to the other person.
Around one in four people has an avoidant attachment style.
High levels of attachment anxiety are linked to more ups and downs in the relationship, while avoidance is linked to low relationship satisfaction.
The study of 157 couples — half of whom had been dating for two years or less — found that high attachment avoidance in one partner was linked to low relationship satisfaction for both.
Ms Cooper said:
“For the average person, stay attuned to what your partner is saying and avoid making assumptions that can escalate conflict.
Trusting in your partner and your relationship is important to daily interactions and stability for your relationship.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (Cooper et al., 2017).