Oct 172013

An inside look at what causes infidelity.

InfidelityWhen it comes to infidelity, the perspectives on relationships provided by attachment theory provide important insights in the factors that influence the course of a couple’s dynamics over time.  According to attachment theory, the earliest relationships we had in childhood provide us with mental models that we carry into our adult lives.  These models take the form of “attachment styles,” or approaches to the people with whom we become close in our romantic lives.

InfidelityMost people have the “secure” attachment style, in which they feel that they can rely on their intimate partners to care for them and place high priority on their well-being.  People with insecure attachment styles either fear abandonment (“anxious” attachment) or prefer to retain their independence from others (“avoidant” attachment).

People can overcome the challenges presented by having developed an insecure attachment style. However, their chances of having positive, lasting romantic relationships are much lower unless these attachment issues are addressed somehow.

Even from this brief description, you can see how attachment style may play a role in predicting which romantic partners remain faithful to each other. People who are securely attached have confidence in the stability of their relationship and neither fear the other person’s infidelity nor are likely to stray from their partner.  By contrast, people who are anxiously attached need constant reassurance from a partner in order to feel that they can carry on from day to day.

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Article by:
Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.
, is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her latest book is The Search for Fulfillment.