Pick Up Lines: The Best Type For Men And Women

Men’s choice of pick up lines may help quickly select for women with particular personalities.

Men’s choice of pick up lines may help quickly select for women with particular personalities.

When it comes to the human mating game, men are often portrayed as having little power or guile.

Research finds it is women that control early interactions, from first signalling the man to approach to deciding whether to engage in sex.

One area in which men are popularly seen as especially inept is in their choice of pick up lines.

Leading the field in crass openings are sexually-loaded remarks.

Indeed, a study by Chris Bale from the University of Central Lancashire found that sexually-loaded remarks were the type of openers least likely to lead to further interaction (Bale, 2006).

Which begs the question: why do men still use them?

Pick up lines as selection tool

An ingeniously simple answer is suggested by both Bale (2006) and Cooper et al (2007), with some evidence to back it up.

Pick up lines may be a way for men to select for a particular type of woman.

In other words, men using sexually-loaded remarks are looking for a certain type of woman.

Similarly, at the other end of the scale, men who use character-revealing or culture-based pick up lines are probably trying to show they are a good mate looking for a long-term partner.

That’s the theory and here’s how Cooper and colleagues searched for evidence.

The study first asked participants to consider a series of scenarios in which men tried to strike up a conversation with a woman.

In each the man used a different type of pick up line.

Participants were then asked to rate how likely it was the conversation would continue on the basis of that pick up line.

These pick up lines were collated from a variety of sources and clustered into the following categories:

  1. Good mate – these pick up lines included comments that made reference to culture, character or wealth. E.g. “You know I saw this fantastic piece in the Tate Modern”.
  2. Compliments. E.g. “You remind me of a parking ticket because you’ve got fine written all over you.” (Please. No!)
  3. Sex. E.g. “I may not be Fred Flintstone, but I can sure make your bedrock.” (Club to the head.)
  4. Humour. “Can I buy you an island?” (Nice.)

So, now we know, generally speaking, how our female participants react to these four broad types of pick up lines.

Next we need to find out what types of men the female participants prefer.

Four types of men

For this they completed the Dating Partner Preference Test.

An analysis of these results suggests women see men as generally falling into one of four types:

  1. Nice guy. Yes, he’s helpful, he’s considerate, he’s appreciative. He’s a puppy.
  2. Provider. Man go into woods, kill pig. Bring fire. Build log cabin. All warm and fed.
  3. Leader. He’s chatty, confident and strong-willed – a captain of your heart?
  4. Bad mate. Fickle, conceited, dependent. All wrong for you. But there’s something about him…

Along with these vignettes and the Dating Partner Preference Test, participants were asked to fill in personality measures of their psychoticism (tendency for inappropriate emotional responses and recklessness), extraversion (being outgoing, gregarious, externally oriented) and neuroticism (the tendency to experience negative emotional states).

Now we’ve got all the information we need to see if there’s any connection.


Looking at the correlations shows there is support for the idea that pick up lines select for women with particular personalities.

  • Women high in extraversion preferred the male ‘leaders’.
  • Women high in neuroticism preferred the ‘nice guys’.
  • Women high in psychoticism rejected ‘nice guys’, preferring the ‘bad mate’.

It does seem, then, that the type of pick up lines men choose does have a measurable effect on the type of women who respond to them.

This can effectively allow men to make a quick assessment of a woman’s personality by their response to a particular type of approach.

Those looking for a ‘bad mate’ might use a sexually-loaded remark or a compliment, while those wanting an extrovert should use a joke.

Men’s perceptions of women’s lines

I have focussed on women’s perceptions of male pick up lines as in most cultures it’s mostly the men using the lines, although this is changing.

Perhaps to reflect this men’s perceptions of women’s pick up lines were also included in this study.

The results for men’s perceptions showed that in comparison to women, men were more likely to prefer pick up lines involving sex (surprise surprise!) as opposed to women who preferred humour.

Men also tended to be worse than women at judging what types of pick up lines women prefer.

The types of pick up lines whose effectiveness was under-estimated by men were those involving offers of help to women, handing control of the interaction to women and (subtly) displaying wealth (surprise surprise!).

Examples of direct pick up lines

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that men prefer pick up lines to be direct.

But, do men and women agree on what a direct approach is and why such directness is necessary in the first place?

These questions are addressed in a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Wade et al., 2009).

Forty women aged between 19 and 22 were asked to list the types of pick up lines they might use to signal their interest in dating a man.

Researchers sorted these pick up lines into 10 categories, then 40 men and women rated them in order of perceived directness.

Here are the 10 categories (with examples) from most to least direct pick up lines:

  1. Directly ask out on a date: Want to go get dinner?
  2. Ask if single: Do you have a girlfriend?
  3. Give out phone number, or ask for a call: You should call me.
  4. Give a compliment: I like your hair.
  5. Ask about shared interests: Do you watch The Wire?
  6. Indirectly hint at a date: What are you doing later this weekend?
  7. Say something funny/sexual humour: Wanna make out?
  8. Suggest familiarity: Have we met before?
  9. Personal interest questions: How was your weekend?
  10. Subtle hello: Hey, what’s your name?

Then men were asked which pick up lines they thought would be most effective for women to use on them.

They pretty much put the pick up lines in order of directness, with the most direct also perceived as the most effective.

When women were asked to do the same they produced a similar list with one exception.

Women didn’t rate as highly giving out phone numbers or asking for a call.

Overall, though, women clearly understand that men prefer the direct approach.

The only surprise is the low ranking of funny or sexual humour.

Men don’t seem to appreciate the lewd come-ons suggested by gender stereotypes.

This relatively low rating for a jokey approach is another thing shared by both sexes.

Previous work by Bale et al. (2006) found that women weren’t particularly impressed with men trying to be funny, despite what we are often told.

It seems opening lines are a serious business for both sexes.

Why men prefer women to be direct

The interesting question, although it may seem easy to answer, is why do men prefer a direct approach?

Two obvious answers are men’s purported inability to read body language or an assumed distaste for reading situational subtleties (in other words: too stupid or can’t be bothered).

But researchers in Germany provide us with evidence for an alternative explanation.

Grammer et al. (2000) videotaped opposite sex pairs meeting for the first time to catch the nuances of body language in the first 10 minutes of an interaction.

Afterwards women were asked how much interest they had in the man they’d been talking to.

The researchers revealed two counter-intuitive results:

  • In the first minute women behaved no differently to men they fancied than those they didn’t. They sent many positive nonverbal signals to all the men and hardly any negative signals.
  • It is only between the 4th and 10th minute that any correlation was seen between an increased sending of positive nonverbal behaviours and wanting to date the man. But even then the difference was only between some positive signals and slightly more positive signals. Again negative signals were very rare.

The reason men prefer a direct approach becomes clearer.

Women may think they are sending out all the right nonverbal signals and may blame men for failing to pick up on them.

But from a man’s perspective there may often be little to pick up on because women, being polite, are always sending positive nonverbal signals.

While it’s not good practice to generalise too much from one relatively small study of 45 participants whose age ranged from 18 to 23, the results accord with what men say anecdotally: they often can’t tell if women are interested or not because the signals are too ambiguous.

So subtlety is out and it’s back to the age-old problem for both men and women: who has the guts to risk rejection with the direct approach?


These Personality Types Have The Happiest Marriages

These personality traits are linked to a genetic variation that can be detected from a saliva sample.

These personality traits are linked to a genetic variation that can be detected from a saliva sample.

People who are emotionally stable, empathetic and sociable have the happiest marriages, research finds.

Low levels of anxious attachment are also important to relationship satisfaction.

In contrast, people high in anxious attachment are ‘needy’ and worry that their partners do not care for them.

High levels of attachment anxiety are also linked to a fear of abandonment.

So, low levels of anxious attachment are preferable in a partner.

All these personality traits are linked to a genetic variation that can be detected from a saliva sample, new research has found.

The genetic variation affects a neurotransmitter called oxytocin.

Oxytocin — sometimes known as the ‘love hormone’ — is important in social bonding.

Researchers found that when one partner in a marriage had this genetic variation linked to oxytocin, both reported greater marital satisfaction and feelings of security.

The conclusions come from a study of 178 married couples aged 37 to 90.

All were asked about their marital satisfaction and had their genotype analysed from a saliva sample.

The results revealed that those with a genetic variation known as the ‘GG genotype’ had higher marital satisfaction.

Dr Joan Monin, the study’s first author, said:

“This study shows that how we feel in our close relationships is influenced by more than just our shared experiences with our partners over time.

In marriage, people are also influenced by their own and their partner’s genetic predispositions.”

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE (Monin et al., 2019).

The Traits People Find Most Attractive In A Partner

Searching for someone who exactly matches your ideals may be a waste of time.

Searching for someone who exactly matches your ideals may be a waste of time.

People desire positive traits in a partner, but it probably does not matter exactly which ones they get, research reveals.

The study found that when selecting a partner, people tend to ignore their own top three traits and are equally happy with someone who has a different set of positive traits.

For example, people say they want intelligence and kindness, but are just as happy with a sense of humour and ambition.

Dr Jehan Sparks, the study’s first author, said:

“The people in our study could very easily list their top three attributes in an ideal partner.

We wanted to see whether those top three attributes really mattered for the person who listed them.

As it turns out, they didn’t.”

For the research, over 700 people were asked to list their ideal traits in a partner.

These traits were then compared to people they actually knew and with how attractive they were.

The results showed that people did prefer others who had the traits they had listed as most attractive.

So far, so predictable.

Professor Paul Eastwick, study co-author, said:

“On the surface, this looks promising.

You say you want these three attributes, and you like the people who possess those attributes.

But the story doesn’t end there.”

However, people were equally attracted to other people who had different positive traits.

Dr Sparks explained:

“So in the end, we want partners who have positive qualities, but the qualities you specifically list do not actually have special predictive power for you.”

Professor Eastwick said:

“Why do we order off the menu for ourselves?

Because it seems obvious that I will like what I get to pick.

Our findings suggest that, in the romantic domain, you might as well let a random stranger order for you—you’re just as likely to end up liking what you get.”

Searching for someone who exactly matches your ideals may be a waste of time, says Dr Sparks:

“It’s really easy to spend time hunting around online for someone who seems to match your ideals.

But our research suggests an alternative approach: Don’t be too picky ahead of time about whether a partner matches your ideals on paper.

Or, even better, let your friends pick your dates for you.”

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (Sparks et al., 2020).

Why People Stay In Toxic Relationships Despite Being Unhappy

Why people stay in relationships that are no good for them.

Why people stay in relationships that are no good for them.

Fear of being single is one of the strongest predictors of settling for less in a relationship, research finds.

Both men and women experience the fear of being single.

People who are very anxious about their relationships are particularly worried about being rejected.

As a result, they can put a lot of effort into a bad relationship.

While the effort increases their investment in the relationship, they are still left feeling dissatisfied.

This means the relationship has little chance of being a happy one in the long-term.

Dr Stephanie Spielmann, who led the study, said:

“Those with stronger fears about being single are willing to settle for less in their relationships.

Sometimes they stay in relationships they aren’t happy in, and sometimes they want to date people who aren’t very good for them.

Now we understand that people’s anxieties about being single seem to play a key role in these types of unhealthy relationship behaviors.”

The results come from a series of studies of hundreds of people across different age ranges.

The study showed that people who were very anxious about their relationship were low in trust but also very dependent.

However, people who acted in an avoidant way wanted to remain independent.

Professor Geoff MacDonald, study co-author, said:

“In our results we see men and women having similar concerns about being single, which lead to similar coping behaviors, contradicting the idea that only women struggle with a fear of being single.

Loneliness is a painful experience for both men and women, so it’s not surprising that the fear of being single seems not to discriminate on the basis of gender.”

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Gere et al., 2013).

The Events That Predict Whether Couples Will Marry

These regular events help couples decide whether to get married.

These regular events help couples decide whether to get married.

Rituals help couples decide whether or not to get married, new research finds.

While engaged in rituals — often during holidays or other celebrations — people learn more about each other.

Each learns how the other interacts with their family, how much they are aware of the relationship and how they deal with conflict.

Rituals might include Friday movie night, birthdays or rituals the couples create themselves.

Mr Chris Maniotes, the study’s first author, said:

“Rituals have the power to bond individuals and give us a preview into family life and couple life.

We found they help magnify normative relationship experiences.”

The study included 24 heterosexual couples whose commitment to marriage was tracked over nine months.

The researchers found that commitment to wed changed markedly in response to rituals, depending on how they went.

Rituals sometimes reinforced bonds between couples and highlighted problems at other times.

Mr Maniotes said:

“Rituals provide a unique time to review one’s partner and relationship; you get to see a host of behaviors and interactions that might normally be obscured.

Some of the ways rituals affected commitment to wed with these couples was by altering their view of their partner, giving them a new perspective.”

Holiday celebrations, for example, often provide a key insight into how a person deals with conflict.

Mr Maniotes said:

“Rituals seem to really play a role in pausing and slowing down individuals, helping them take a better look at their relationship.

They help them see, ‘this is who we are as a couple; this is who we are as a family.'”

Although rituals are just part of the answer, they still play an important role in deciding whether or not to wed, said Mr Maniotes:

“Just recognizing the importance of rituals in our lives, and the magnitude of the role they play, can help us integrate them in an intentional way.”

The study was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (Maniotes et al., 2020).

The Healthiest Personality Trait For Your Partner

Extend your life by looking for this trait in a partner.

Extend your life by looking for this trait in a partner.

Having a happy partner makes you live longer, new research finds.

People whose partners are satisfied with their lives were less likely to die over the 8 years the study tracked people.

In fact, the happiness of people’s partners was more important for their longevity than their own happiness.

One reason is probably that happy people are more active.

On the other hand, unhappy people drag their partners down, said Dr Olga Stavrova, the study’s author:

“If your partner is depressed and wants to spend the evening eating chips in front of the TV — that’s how your evening will probably end up looking, as well.”

The results come from a study of around 4,400 couples in the US who were followed for up to 8 years.

They were asked about their life satisfaction, their relationship quality and other aspects of their health.

The results showed that people were at less risk of dying over the 8 years if their spouse was happy.

Their own happiness was also important, but their partner’s happiness mattered more.

One reason, the study revealed, was that happier partners were more physically active.

This made both partners more physically active and reduced the chance of dying.

The findings held, no matter people’s socioeconomic status, said Stavrova:

“The data show that spousal life satisfaction was associated with mortality, regardless of individuals’ socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, or their physical health status,”

Dr Stavrova concluded:

“The findings underscore the role of individuals’ immediate social environment in their health outcomes.

Most importantly, it has the potential to extend our understanding of what makes up individuals’ ‘social environment’ by including the personality and well-being of individuals’ close ones.”

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science (Stavrova et al., 2019).

The Emotion That Protects Relationships Against Stress And Arguments (M)

Couples who felt this emotion from their partners were in better psychological shape: they experienced more stability and greater confidence.

Couples who felt this emotion from their partners were in better psychological shape: they experienced more stability and greater confidence.

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Why People Repeat Bad Relationship Patterns

People’s relationships with different partners show remarkable similarity in the middle, settled phases.

People’s relationships with different partners show remarkable similarity in the middle, settled phases.

People follow the same relationship patterns with different partners, research finds.

Once the initial honeymoon phase of a new relationship is over, it tends to settle into much the same pattern as with previous partners.

People who experience a lot of negative emotions in one relationship are likely to experience them with a different person.

The reason why people repeat the same patterns is, according to Dr Matthew Johnson, the study’s first author:

“Although some relationship dynamics may change, you are still the same person, so you likely recreate many of the same patterns with the next partner.

New love is great, but relationships continue past that point.”

The conclusions come from a study involving 554 people who were followed for years, through one relationship to its end and into the next one.

They were surveyed twice during each relationship and asked about their satisfaction with it, whether they could open up to their partner and their confidence in the relationship lasting.

Naturally, all relationships have their ups and downs, said Dr Johnson:

“Things get worse as a relationship ends, and when we start a new one, everything is wonderful at first, because we’re not involving our partner in everyday life like housework and child care.

The relationship exists outside of those things.”

However, the results showed remarkable similarity in the middle, settled phases of relationships, said Dr Johnson:

“There’s a lot of change in between, but more broadly, we do have stability in how we are in relationships.

It’s good in a sense that we as individuals can bring ourselves and our experiences into relationships; we aren’t totally trying to change who we are, and that continuity shows we stay true to ourselves.”

New relationships do not always offer a new pattern, after the honeymoon phase is over, said Dr Johnson:

“Just starting a new partnership doesn’t mean things are going to be different.

This research shows that chances are, you are going to fall into the same patterns in many aspects of the relationship.

Even if things are different, they’re not guaranteed to be better.”

The study was published in the Journal of Family Psychology (Johnson & Neyer, 2019).

Online Dating: 10 Fascinating Psychological Insights

Online dating psychological research reveals who uses internet dating and why, which strategies work, and uncovers the truth about lying online.

Online dating psychological research reveals who uses internet dating and why, which strategies work, and uncovers the truth about lying online.

Somewhere between one-third and three-quarters of single people with internet access have used online dating to try and meet someone new.

But, over the years, we’ve heard conflicting stories about how successful online dating is.

Believe the online dating companies and it’s all sweetness and light, with wedding bells ringing in the distance; believe the media scare stories and it’s all lying, cheating, perverted social misfits.

The truth is somewhere in between, but where?

Fortunately, now there’s enough research on online dating to suggest what’s really going on.

So, here are my 10 favourite psychological insights on online dating.

1. Online daters are not losers

Contrary to the stereotype, there’s little evidence that online dating is the last resort of social misfits or weirdos.

In fact, quite the reverse.

People doing online dating are more likely to be sociable, have high self-esteem and be low in dating anxiety (Kim et al., 2009; Valkenburg, 2007).

These studies of online dating found no evidence that people use it because they can’t hack it face-to-face.

It’s just one more way to meet new people.

People’s motivations to start online dating are many and various, typically involving a triggering event like a break-up, but overall Barraket and Henry-Waring (2008) have found that people’s motivations are less individual and more social.

People aren’t using online dating because they are shy but because they have moved to a new city, are working long hours or don’t have time to meet anyone new.

2. Online daters do lie (but only a little)

Although 94 percent deny their online dating profiles contain any fibs (Gibbs et al., 2006), psychologists are a suspicious lot.

Toma et al., (2008) measured the heights and weights of 80 people doing online dating, as well as checking their driving licences for their real age.

When this data was compared with their profiles, it showed that nine out of ten had lied on at least one of the attributes measured, but the lies were only small ones.

The most frequent offender was weight, with daters either adding or shaving off an average of 5 percent.

Daters were more truthful about their age (1.5 percent deviation) and height (1.1 percent deviation).

As expected women tended to shave off the pounds, while men gave themselves a boost in height.

These lies make little difference in the real world because the vast majority of fibbing would have been difficult to detect in person.

Most people want to meet up eventually so they know big lies are going to be caught.

3. Photo fallacies in online dating

The saying ‘the camera never lies’ is bunk.

Even without apps to iron out the wrinkles, camera angles and lighting can easily change perceived attractiveness.

People instinctively understand this when choosing their profile photo so Toma and Hancock (2010) took photographs of internet daters, then judges compared these to the real profile photos.

Although less physically attractive people were the most likely to choose a self-enhancing photo, overall the differences were tiny.

The lab photos were only a little less attractive than those chosen for online dating profiles (about 5 percent for women and 4 percent for men).

Once again, people doing online dating weren’t lying much…

4. Your best look when online dating

Clues to which types of profile photos work come from one online dating site which has analysed 7,000 photographs in its database (Oktrends, 2010):

  • Women had higher response-rates when they made eye-contact with the camera and looked flirty. Conversely the least successful pictures for women were looking away with a flirty face.
  • Men’s best look was away from the camera, not smiling. But guys should avoid a flirty face, which was associated with a drastic reduction in messages.

They then looked at which photos were associated with the longest online conversations.

These were where it showed the dater:

  • Doing something interesting
  • With an animal
  • In an interesting location (travel photo)

The photos associated with shorter than average conversations were (in increasing order of conversational deterrent):

  • In bed (associated with slightly shorter conversations)
  • Taken outdoors
  • Having fun with friends
  • And the most likely to deter interactions: drinking! (associated with the shortest conversations)

(Remember, these are all associations so we can’t be sure about causality.)

5. Opposites (still) don’t attract online

Even amongst a diverse population of those doing online dating, people still prefer someone who is similar to themselves.

When Fiore and Donath (2005) examined data from 65,000 people doing online dating, they found that they were choosing based on similarity to themselves.

In this respect online dating is no different from offline dating.

On average people are looking for someone about the same as themselves.

Indeed there are now many online dating sites aimed at narrower demographics such as sports fans, Jewish people or those with particular medical conditions.

6. Online dating encourages some diversity

To examine online dating diversity, Dutton et al., (2009) surveyed 2,670 married couples in the UK, Australia and Spain.

In this sample people doing online dating were more likely to have a greater disparity in age and educational background compared with those who had met in more traditional ways.

Although opposites don’t tend to attract, by its nature internet dating does encourage diverse matches.

The authors argue that it is changing the face of marriage by bring together types of people who previously never would have met.

7. Keep the first message short in online dating

Getting a response when online dating can be a hit-and-miss affair.

An online dating site has gauged the response rate by analysing more than 500,000 initial contacts sent by their members (Oktrends, 2009).

Recipients answered only 30 percent of men’s messages to women and 45 percent of women’s messages to men.

The percentage that lead to conversations is even lower (around 20 percent and 30 percent respectively).

The one-third response rate, which is backed up by academic research (Rosen et al., 2008), is partly because many online dating accounts are dead.

Oktrends also found that longer messages only yield a small improvement in response rate for men and nothing for women.

So, don’t waste your time writing an essay.

Say hi and let them check out your profile.

8. Emotionality in online dating is attractive

In a study of online dating, Rosen et al., (2008) found evidence that more intense emotionality, e.g. using words like ‘excited’ and ‘wonderful’, made a better impression on both men and women.

This study also looked at the impact of self-disclosure.

While the results were more variable, overall people preferred relatively low-levels of self-disclosure.

9. After screening, 51% meet face-to-face

For many, but not all people doing online dating, the aim is to meet someone new in the flesh.

In a survey of 759 online daters, Rosen et al., (2008) found that 51 percent of people had made a face-to-face date within one week and one month of receiving replies to their online dating.

This first meeting is often treated by those doing online dating as the final part of the screening process (Whitty & Carr, 2006).

Is this person really who they say they are?

If so, is there any chemistry?

It’s only after this stage is complete that people can get to know each other.

10. Relationshopping in online dating

Despite all the positive things the research has to say about online dating, there’s no doubt that it can be unsatisfying and aversive.

132 online daters surveyed by Frost et al., (2008) reported that they spent 7 times as long screening other people’s profiles and sending emails than they did interacting face-to-face on real dates.

Part of the problem is that people are encouraged by online dating to think in consumerist terms (Heino et al., 2010).

Users are ‘relationshopping’: looking at other people’s features, weighing them up, then choosing potential partners, as though from a catalogue; it’s human relationships reduced to check-boxes.

This is more of a criticism of the technology currently available than it is of the general idea of online dating.

Frost et al., (2008) argue that this will change as online dating services move towards more experiential methods, such as virtual dates (see: why internet dating is aversive).

How well does online dating work?

There’s only limited data about how well online dating works and most of this research has examined heterosexual daters.

Still, Rosen et al., (2008) found that 29 percent of their sample had found serious relationships through online dating.

Dutton et al., (2009) found that about 6 percent of married couples had met online in the UK, 5 percent in Spain and 9 percent in Australia.

Looking at just younger people the percentages were much higher:

  • In the US, 42 percent of couples between 26 and 35 first met online.
  • In the UK, 21 percent of married couples between 19 and 25 first met online.

If a long-term relationship is what you’re after, we can certainly say that it’s working for some people.

Many are no doubt put off online dating by the scare stories, especially because these stick in the mind.

Some will find the box-ticking, relationshopping aspects off-putting, or get caught out by the tensions between representing their actual and idealised selves online.

Still others will find that low levels of response kills their enthusiasm.

The research, however, suggests that most people doing online dating are relatively honest and, for some at least, it can be successful.

→ Update: The research studies listed here is now somewhat old, but most of the general findings likely still hold true even if some of the statistics are out of date.


Attachment Style Compatibility: The Worst Combination

Attachment style compatibility research reveals the worst possible combination for personal relationships.

Attachment style compatibility research reveals the worst possible combination for personal relationships.

Attachment style compatibility research finds that the two least compatible personality types are the anxious and avoidant.

A person who is avoidant wants to avoid getting too attached to the other person.

Around one in four people has an avoidant attachment style.

However, a person who is anxiously attached tends to have wildly varying feelings about the relationship from one day to the next.

Around one in five people has an anxious attachment style.

The researchers explain how this affects people’s behaviour:

“Anxious people react by clinging to their partner and caring for them compulsively, while avoidant types react by evading their relationship.

Their philosophy is that ‘it’s better not to have than to have and to lose’.

These people also have more problems in the area of intimacy.”

Attachment style compatibility study

For the study, 211 people in Spain were surveyed as to their attachment style.

Attachment styles analyse how people respond to threats and problems in their personal relationships.

Dr Javier Gómez Zapiain, the study’s first author, said:

“It is very interesting, from the perspective of a couple, to see how styles of affection combine within the relationship.

The most explosive combination occurs when one of the partners in the couple is anxious and the other avoidant.

This combination has more likelihood of ending up with the couple seeking help, or even breaking up.”

The results showed that people who felt secure had the best relationships and found it easy to give and take affection.

The anxious and avoidant found it the most difficult.

Dr Gómez Zapiain said:

“Our results show that insecure people (anxious-ambivalent) tend to be compulsive in their care for their partners, while people prone to avoidance tend to be controlling and to exhibit greater conflict in their sexual desire.”

Being flexible is the key to supporting your partner, said Dr Gómez Zapiain:

“Each partner must have the ability to support the other when they are feeling down and need emotional support.

Similarly, they must be able to place themselves in what we call a ‘position of dependency’, in other words they must be able to recognise their own need for support and to express this in times of anxiety.”

The study was published in the journal Anales de Psicología (Gómez Zapiain et al., 2011).