This is a Student Love Lesson
Is Your Attachment Style Freaking Him Out?
How You Could Be Making or Breaking Your Relationship
Written By: Erin Daugherty & Edited By: Jennie
When’s the last time you took an in-depth look into you and your significant others’ sex life? You know the basics; maybe you have a routine…he gets home from work, you eat together, watch your favorite show, get ready for bed, and then make love. Maybe your sex sessions are few and far between or maybe you two partake in the horizontal tango every day. But what you don’t realize is that close romantic relationships, sex included, are enhanced greatly by each members’ attachment orientations. Your sex life also provides some telltale signs into whether or not your relationship will last, based on your attachment styles. So, whether you have been wondering why your man is avoiding the nightly nookie, or are both enjoying satisfying sex, keep in mind that individuals with different types of attachment to their significant other have different conceptualizations of sex, along with different goals for sex, that influence the nature and quality of their romantic relationship.
Many women assume that if their man has sex with them, it’s because he's committing to a loving and emotionally satisfying relationship. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A recent article entitled, “Attachment and Daily Sexual Goals: A Study of Dating in Couples,” published in Personal Relationships, explains that differences in sexual goals are abundant. The article discusses two types of attachment styles: avoidant and anxious. Think about your friend who is obsessive about where her man is at all times, calls him once an hour, and plans her life around what her man is doing so she can always be close to him. Got someone in mind? This friend would be the perfect example of someone with an anxious attachment style. Someone with attachment anxiety “engages in behaviors in order to secure the proximity and supportiveness of others,” (Impett, Gordon, & Strachman, 2008, p. 377). Now, imagine a friend that is slow to get in relationships, has a general distrust that her man will be available when she needs him, and keeps herself closed off to falling in love. This friend has attachment avoidance, and she “creates independence and emotional distance from attachment figures and employs deactivating strategies when their attachment system is activated, “ (Impett et al., 2008, p. 377). Couples that maintain low levels of anxiety and avoidance are viewed as securely attached. (You can find out what your attachment style is by clicking here.)
The researchers had 84 college couples complete a a survey to determine their attachment style, and then, for 14 consecutive days, one member of the couple wrote in a journal about his or her sexual goals each time they engaged in sexual intercourse with their partner. This person rated the importance of 10 reasons influencing their decision to engage in sex on a 7-point scale, 7 being extremely important and 1 being not at all important. Some examples of the “reasons” to engage in sex were “to pursue my own sexual pleasure”, “to feel good about myself”, and “to please my partner.” Impett et al. (2008) explains that the current study assessed both members of romantic couples in order to examine the participant and their partner’s effects of attachment dimensions on one member’s daily sexual goals.
The results of this study found that, no matter what type of attachment men had in their relationship, men still believe that sex serves more of a physical purpose than an emotional purpose, even when these men are in relationships. If men had an anxiety attachment style, meaning that they were more obsessive about being around their girlfriend, they most often engaged in sexual activities to enhance intimacy and to please their partner, but still also had sex to pursue their own pleasure and to feel good about themselves. These guys used sex as a way to cope with stress and negative emotions. Avoidantly attached men, those who kept themselves distantly uninvolved in their relationships, most often had sex to prevent their partner from becoming upset and to feel good about themselves. These guys reported having sex solely to reduce stress and feel better about themselves, especially since they desire to avoid intimacy and closeness, which sex often brings.
So how does this affect you? Well, consider your attachment style. Are you someone who has trouble doing things on their own and feel uncomfortable without a man in your life? Or do you consider yourself more independent and able to go without the sugary romantic stuff? You may be either anxious (the former) or avoidant (the latter). Now, don’t automatically assume that these are flaws; use them to your advantage instead! Get more pleasure (in bed and in life) out of your relationship and change the way your man thinks of you. After all, for most women, sex is an important emotional connection to a relationship. We’ve already learned that men think of sex as more of a physical aspect of the relationship… so try to change his mind by helping him connect with you in the bedroom on a more emotional level!
If you are anxiously attached, consider that your man may not want to have sex as often due to the frustration in having to “deal” with having a clingy anxious partner. Try doing more things on your own and to communicate with your man (whether it be through cell, e-mail, or txt) only once or twice a day. Your man will find your new individual outlook refreshing, and he’ll be begging to see you (and sex you!) more often. More of the avoidant type? Try to incorporate your man into your plans more often. If you have an errand to run, invite him along and treat him to dinner. Bring him barhopping with your friends (they’re probably dying to meet him anyway!), or ask him to spend the night at your place. He’ll love that you’re showing him you care about him more, and I'm sure you’ll be rewarded for it in the sack!
Just remember, in the end, romantic relationships are one of the most important sources of life satisfaction and emotional well-being across the life span. Women who are securely attached to their partners experience high relationship satisfaction and stability, whereas women who are less securely attached (more avoidant or anxious) experience lower levels of happiness and are less likely to stay together with their man over time. So avoid the unnecessary break up, and start cluing yourself into your type of attachment, and challenging yourself to adjust your behaviors… it could mean a world of difference, inside and outside of the bedroom, for you and your partner!
- Impett, E.A., Gordon, A.M., & Strachman, A. (2008). Attachment and daily sexual goals: A study of dating couples. Personal Relationships, 15, 375-390.