Attachment Style and Relationships

Write a 350- to 700-word response summarizing the three dimensions of love and how they interrelate to identify a specific type of love relationship.

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The love triangle represents a summation of the 68 prototypical features of love organized into the three categories of passion, intimacy, and commitment. These broad categories can be combined in several different combinations in order to express the different types of love. For instance, if a relationship only expresses the intimacy and lacks the other two characteristics of commitment and passion, then that relationship would be labeled liking. These types of relationships would be reserved for acquaintances and distant friends. On the other end of the spectrum would be consummate love which incorporates all three categories into a singular relationship. This type of relationship is reserved for the closest of relationships and brings together all three characteristics into a model partnership. Now that we have completed a broad outline of relationships, all of the way from liking to consummate, let’s fill in the blanks. To that end, empty love constitutes a commitment to the exclusion of passion and intimacy. These relationships exist because both partners feel a sense of duty to the other which keeps them together. On the other hand, infatuation includes passion and no commitment or intimacy. This could be a one night stand or a casual love relationship. Now on to the combinations, romantic love entails both intimacy and passion but low commitment. In romantic relationships, the disclosure reciprocity effect may be utilized in order to bring about intimacy through the mutual sharing of private information. However, the commitment to the relationship is lacking because the relationship has not yet developed to that point. Next is fatuous love which has both passion and commitment but has not developed intimately yet. This could be a live-in partner or life partner; someone whom you are committed to and passionate with but for which intimate details are lacking. Lastly is a relational situation in which commitment and intimacy have developed to the exclusion of passion. Many relationships are in this type of relational situation as a result of a loss of passion in the relationship. Furthermore, normally a relationship is initially dominated by passion, except maybe in the case of arranged marriages; in that case, the commitment would lead passion. Over time, however, passion plateaus or declines and leads to intimacy. Proximity and passion both work to bring about reciprocal sharing and caring as intimacy increases in a relationship. At the onset of a relationship commitment wanes far behind intimacy and especially the passion, but as a relationship grows commitment increases steadily. Once all three have been properly cultivated and maintained consummate love is possible and even likely.

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Write a 700- to 1,050-word response explaining how you believe an individual’s attachment style can affect the types of love relationships he or she has.

Love is the cause of both great potential happiness and great relational unrest. Social bonds, epitomized in romantic relationships, are above all else most responsible for our survival as a species. It is through these social attachments that we are able to propagate and therefore increase in number, which during our ancestry gave the human race an immense advantage. After all, a cord of three strands is not easily broken, but a cord of one strand can be easily undone. Attachment styles, at the same time, form our understanding of relationships through our upbringing and mold our future relationships into the three broad categories of secure, avoidant, or anxious.

When humans are born they depend on their caregiver for everything. It is during this time that they develop a distinctive world view which impacts their behavior for the rest of their lives. This world view is largely dependent on the type of attachment style that is produced through their relationship with their first attachment, the caregiver. The first attachment is built upon three components: closeness, care, and commitment. Close physical proximity to a caregiver brings with it security and a close emotional bond. Emotional and physical care both act to reinforce our sense of safety. Lastly, commitment brings with it a safe base of support to build upon throughout our lives. Moreover, the three different categories of attachment styles are secure, avoidant, and anxious. A secure relationship with a primary caregiver entails the ability of the caregiver to be warm and responsive when needed and supportive when the child wants to operate on its own. A child brought up in this environment would happily explore new environments and likewise feel apprehension when the caregiver leaves. An avoidant relationship is exemplified in a caregiver who is cold, rejecting, and rarely responds to the needs of the child. This type of relationships causes a child to be indifferent to the presence of the caregiver, and therefore show little distress when the caregiver leaves. Next, an anxious relationship is characterized by a primary caregiver who is inconsistent, sometimes being responsive but sometimes not. In this case, the child cries when the caregiver leaves and shows indifference to the caregiver when they return. The secure attachment style is the ideal situation for a child. Furthermore, all three of these categories help to classify the complex interactions between nature—our inherent tendency to bond—and nurture—the responsiveness of our caregivers—in the form of attachment styles. These attachment styles affect our perception of our social world in profound ways. Are people generally trustworthy or generally untrustworthy? Am I lovable or am I inherently bad? Our upbringing helps answer these questions and helps shape how we approach relationships.

As aforementioned the different categories of attachment style impact future behavioral patterns, including romantic relationships. At its very core attachment styles inform our lives of (a) our level of comfort with closeness and (b) our degree of anxiety over abandonment. As it pertains to romance, having the secure attachment style brings with it comfort when depending on others and ease when getting close to others. Secure adults are more likely to form happy, long-lasting relationships which will withstand the test of time. On the other hand, the avoidant style is characterized as discomfort when others become close and difficulty in trusting others. These types of relationships are more likely to end abruptly and are marked by emotional highs and lows. Likewise, the anxious attachment style entails apprehension about others not being as close to oneself as that person is to others and the tendency to want to be unproductively close to their partners. This attachment style entails much less trust, a demand for reciprocation, and generally includes more possessiveness and jealousy. During this type of relationship one partner is much more likely to misread the other partner’s feelings about the relationship, which leads to even more jealousy. Furthermore, both avoidant and anxiety attachments lead to lower relationship satisfaction overall. Only the secure attachment style is productive and satisfying as pertaining to romantic relationships.

In conclusion, since the function of attachment is to obtain security, change is more likely to occur in the direction of more secure relationships. The positive news about attachment styles is that they can change. Research suggests that a better understanding of the correlation between early childhood experiences and romantic relationships is the first step towards positive change. Attachment styles form the foundation for later romantic relationships notwithstanding even foundations can be repaired.


Bolt, M. (2004). Pursuing human strengths: A positive psychology guide. New York, NY: Worth

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