University of Denver researchers Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver were the first to study how attachment styles may come into play with romantic relationships. They published their findings in 1987. The original theory was developed by British psychoanalyst John Bowlby in the 20th century. Bowlby theorized that an infant’s access (and perceived) access to a parental figure results in how safe and protected they feel.
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A secure attachment is an ideal in a healthy, supportive relationship, and the majority of adults fall in line with it. Hazan and Shaver’s research stated that 56% of participants identified as having secure attachments. A secure attachment means being able to accept and support partners even despite their faults and generally feeling happy and trusting of partners. If you have a secure attachment, you’re likely good at communicating—an important skill in a relationship and the bedroom. Compared to other styles, secure attachments are more likely to have longer-term relationships.
Of the three attachment styles, anxious types are most likely to fall in love at first sight. According to Hazan and Shaver’s research, 19% of people identify as having this kind of attachment, which is prone to obsessive feelings and a need for reciprocation and higher rates than other styles. They are, however, more likely to be accepting of a partner’s faults than others—which can sometimes come at a cost. When it comes to intimacy, this type is a natural giver, but they can benefit from receiving too—they’re perfectly worthy, after all.
If you describe your love life as “an emotional rollercoaster,” you may be an avoidant attachment person. A quarter of participants in Hazan and Shaver’s research identified this type, which is characterized by having a fear of intimacy, and “emotional highs and lows.” That doesn’t mean that this type doesn’t feel attraction —they rate the same as secure types in this regard, according to Hazan and Shaver. They’re also likely to feel jealousy, though maybe not as intensely as those with anxious attachment styles. Learning how to put their walls down—even just a little—can prove most beneficial for this type. A little vulnerability may lead to more security down the line.