Science has provided information how adult lovers reach for and comfort each other in their love relationships. Social psychologists have studied love relationships and have found the same patterns of responses to separation and reunion which showed up in mother-infant studies. Researchers began to code the adult love relationships and how they reached for and comforted each other when one of them was placed in a position of anxiety and uncertainty.
These studies informed psychologists about various attachment styles and found clear evidence for the adult equivalent when an individual flips between highly anxious and highly avoidant strategies.
It became clear that securely attached adults in conflict discussions were able to disclose their anxiety, reach for a partner, and use comfort to calm themselves and were also able to support and comfort their distressed partner.
Whereas adults who described themselves as avoidantly attached and participated in conflict discussions pushed their partners away when their anxiety was triggered and also dismissed the other's need for comfort and care.
Adults who identified themselves anxiously attached stated when in conflict discussions, they reached for a partner, the partner moved away and their needs to resolve conflict created higher anxiety and signaled greater distress.
Psychologists began to observe separation behaviors, such as partners' behavior at airports as they said goodbye to each other and to study the general impact of the attachment styles.
Psychologists found that a more secure attachment was linked to less aggressive hostility in arguments and less attributions of malicious intent to the other person.
They also found that secure partner were more curious, more open to new information, and more comfortable with ambiguity.
The final wave of attachment research has vastly extended the understanding of adult attachment and its impact on couples. These studies link attachment measured in childhood with behaviors and quality of relationships in adulthood.
Did you know that priming the attachment system with something as simple as pausing and recalling times when someone cared for you instantly reduces your hostility to people who are different from you, if only for a second?
Learn more about adult attachment styles, and whether you or your partner can send clear signals about distress and what you need from the other, as well as can you accept when comfort is offered and be soothed, as well as whether you can recognized anothers distress and respond in a contingent fashion?
Attachment is a well substantiated development theory of personality that gives priority to the role of emotional regulation and connection with a trusted other. The great strength of the perspective links biology and interaction, the thought and the feeling and the self. To be able to respond to the trusted other in times of conflict or distress.
This approach outlines humanity's most basic needs and fears.
It answers the age old question, "What is love and why does it matter so much?"
Taken from the book Attachment Theory in Practice, Dr. Sue Johnson