Written by Ragan Mims
Romantic relationships are an integral part of life. The way that individuals feel and respond when in a romantic relationship can often be attributed to their attachment style. Attachment styles begin to develop in childhood and continue to develop throughout life. The four attachment styles include secure, preoccupied, fearful, and dismissing (Wegner et al., 2018) This article will help the reader identify their attachment style as well as assess each attachment style’s influence on relationships, with particular focus on jealousy.
According to Wegner, Roy, Gorman, and Ferguson, attachment styles are the way in which individuals approach each other in regard to intimate relationships (2018). There are four main attachment styles that were used by Wegner and his colleges in their 2018 study: secure, preoccupied, fearful, and dismissing. The table below identifies the four attachment styles and provides a brief description of each style.
*This table was copied from Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991.
How Attachment Styles Influence Relationships
Each attachment style has certain impacts on relationships. Wegner, Roy, Gorman, and Ferguson conducted a study in 2018 that aimed to determine how relationship attachment styles influence jealousy induction through relationship communication styles. The researchers used a sample of 263 college students who completed a on online survey (Wegner et al., 2018). The survey included questions that measured each participant’s jealousy induction, attachment style, attitude toward relationships, and tendency for self-expression (Wegner et al., 2018). As one might expect, securely attached individuals tend to have healthier relationships. According to the research, individuals with a secure attachment style generally have more assertive, open communication styles and induce less jealousy in their partners (Wegner et al., 2018). Additionally, individuals with preoccupied and fearful attachment styles were significantly linked to jealousy induction in their partners (Wegner et al., 2018). There were also significant differences between women and men. Men were linked to self-silencing and nonassertive communication styles as a predictor of jealousy induction (Wegner et al., 2018). Women, however, demonstrated more aggressive communication styles as a predictor of jealousy induction in their partner (Wegner et al., 2018). This research suggests that men who do not express their opinions and, instead, choose to keep their thoughts to themselves induce jealousy more than others do (Wegner et al., 2018). Additionally, women who are more overbearing and forceful induce jealousy more in their significant other (Wegner et al., 2018).
Given this information, how can individuals foster healthy and happy relationships? The first step is to identify one’s attachment style; understanding how you relate to others is pivotal to relationship quality and endurance. If you would like to discover your attachment style, please click here.
If an individual is afraid of connecting with others or fears that others are going to hurt them, they will most likely engage in destructive behaviors that could end a relationship prematurely. Additionally, communication styles are an important part of healthy relationships. Communicating openly and honestly with one’s partner is the best way to understand the other’s feelings and thoughts about the relationship. If you fear that your attachment style or communication style may be holding you back from healthy relationships, individual counseling could help to expose and exterminate troubling feelings and thoughts. There are also many blogs and articles about how to foster a more secure attachment style. Greater Good Magazine published by UC Berkeley recently released an online article about forming more secure attachments that you can view by clicking here.
In summary, individuals possess different ways of relating to others in romantic relationships. Certain attachment styles can be constructive, while others may not be beneficial for building relationships. Additionally, how individuals communicate with their partner can greatly influence relationships. Having open and honest conversations can lead to less jealousy induction and more trust between partners. Understanding how you relate to others can help foster healthier and happier relationships in your life and in the lives of others.
Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 226-244. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.332.3652&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Wegner, R., Roy, A. K., Gorman, K. R., & Ferguson, K. (2018). Attachment, relationship communication style and the use of jealousy induction techniques in romantic relationships. Personality and Individual Differences, 129, 6-11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2018.02.033
Dr. H. Colleen Sinclair
Social Psychologist, Relationships Researcher,
Ms. Chelsea Ellithorpe
Lab Manager of the Social Relations Collaborative and Blog Editor