Normative Attachment Processes in Adulthood

Attachment refers to a specific type of bond that has four defining features:

  1. proximity maintenance—the attached individual wishes to be in close proximity to the attachment figure;
  2. separation distress—the attached individual experiences an increase in anxiety during unwanted or prolonged separation from the attachment figure;
  3. safe haven—the attachment figure serves as a source of comfort and security such that the attached individual experiences diminished anxiety when in the company of the attachment figure; and
  4. secure base—the attachment figure serves as a base of security from which the attached individual engages in explorations of the social and physical world.

Bonds of attachment are found in some, but not all, relationships of emotional significance— only those that are critical to an individual’s sense of security and emotional stability (Weiss 1982). Adult pair bonds, in which sexual partners mutually provide security to one another, are presumed to be the prototypical attachment relationship in adulthood (see Hazan and Zeifman 1999 for a review)

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