How Do I Love Thee: A Look at Why Adults Bond Differently to Romantic Relationships Than to Other Relationships

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Jamie Shapiro

Second Advisor

Fernand Lubuguin

Third Advisor

Jon Richard


Theory of attachment, Adult romantic attachment, Romantic love, Attachment behavior, Partner preference

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


The attachment behavior system is an important concept in attachment theory, because it provides the conceptual link between ethological models of human development and modern theories on emotion regulation and personality. Research on adult attachment is guided by the premise that early motivational systems that gave rise to close emotional bonds between parents and their children will in turn shape the quality of an individual’s subsequent attachment experiences in adulthood. There are several perspectives on how attachment theory in general accounts for romantic relationship selection, the characteristics of the romantic relationship (i.e., dynamics of the relationship, reciprocity of attachment), and the perceived level of satisfaction with the romantic relationship. Given that two people under similar circumstance will respond differently depending on reciprocity or attachment style, what are some psychosocial characteristics of the individual that contribute to why the individual relates differently in romantic relationships as compared to all other relationships in general? This paper reviews the construct of attachment in the context of various psychosocial variables that affect romantic attachments vis-à-vis the modern and classic field research on adult attachment and romantic relationships. Due to the current state of the literature, hetero-normative romantic relationships will be examined throughout the body of this paper (i.e., as opposed to examining specificities of non-traditional romantic relationships — e.g., poly-amorous relationships).


41 pages

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