The association between attachment, hurtful events and the encountered difficulty in the search for a romantic partner.
Hövell van Wezeveld en Westerflier, S.C. van
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Since the number of singles is increasing, it seems an important endeavour to understand the psychological factors involved in encountered difficulty in finding a suitable partner. For this reason, the primary goal of the present study was to examine whether early attachment style and experienced hurtful relationship events are associated with encountered difficulty in obtaining a romantic relationship. The second goal was to investigate whether adult attachment plays a mediating role in this. For the purpose of this study, a Dutch community sample (N=100) completed questionnaires of early attachment, adult attachment and experienced hurtful relationship events. In addition, they reported to what extent they experienced problems in finding a partner. Strikingly, in this study an overrepresentation of unsecure attachment was found, for early attachment as well as adult attachment. Moreover, most of the singles (69%) encountered difficulty in finding a partner. As expected based on previous literature on relationship satisfaction, adult attachment was found to be associated with this. Encountered difficulty was also associated with two types of hurtful relationship events mediated by adult attachment: active dissociation (e.g. rejection by a partner) and passive dissociation (e.g. being ignored by a partner). Other hurtful events were by no means associated with difficulty in obtaining a relationship. Despite of expectations based on attachment theory, early attachment was not associated with problems encountered by singles. Looking at the background of adult attachment, early attachment was also expected to be connected with adult attachment. However, surprisingly no significant association was found. Furthermore, indications for gender differences in attachment styles were found among singles.