Romantic love as an attachment process: Shaping secure bonds

Attachment theory (Ainsworth & Bowlby, 1991; Bowlby, 1973), having been extensively applied to adult relationships in the last 30 years (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2016 ), offers a clearly articulated theory of the science of adult love and close relationships and a map of an effective process to move couples from distress and disconnection to increasingly resilient and secure bonds. Based on Bowlby’s claim that attachment needs remain active “from the cradle to the grave” (1988, p. 62), adult romantic love is viewed as an attachment bond that provides a safe haven of comfort for regulating emotional distress and a secure base for growth, maturity and autonomy. Studies of romantic love as an attachment bond found that romantic partners’ interactions represent the same defining features of attachment-related processes that Bowlby and Ainsworth originally identified in infant-caregiver dyads—seeking proximity to an attachment figure when under stress and desperate separation protest when the attachment figure is unavailable or unresponsive.

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