tom XXI / numer 4Elżbieta Greszta, Jarosław Jastrzębski, Zbigniew Izdebski, Monika Kowalska-Dąbrowska, Aleksandra Januszkiewicz, Attachment style, love components and sociosexual orientation of men and women in different types of heterosexual relationships

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ATTACHMENT STYLE, LOVE COMPONENTS AND SOCIOSEXUAL ORIENTATION OF MEN AND WOMEN IN DIFFERENT TYPES OF HETEROSEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS

Introduction

Men and women around the world, regardless of culture, form more or less formalised sexual relationships that are primarily aimed at the generation and nurturing of Offspring. The two fundamental reproductive strategies implemented by humans and animals alike are polygamy and monogamy (Gribbin, Gribbin, 1999; Wilson, 2000; Krebs, Davies, 2001). The choice depends on a number of factors,  mainly environmental. In the case of polygamy, an individual mates with multiple partners, whereas in monogamy, a male and a female mate for a longer or shorter period that spans either a part of the breeding period (the so-called serial monogamy) or even the whole life (Wilson, 2000). It appears that relationships formed by contemporary humans are monogamous. A more thorough analysis has given grounds for distinguishing the two most characteristic types: short-term relationships and long-term relationships. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), long-term relationships are formed by partners who remain in close emotional and sexual relations for longer than 12 months (Izdebski, Ostrowska, 2003).

Both forms of relationships give partners specific biological benefits. This is explained by evolutionary psychology in reference to the concept of reproductive success. While permanent relationships increase the chance for the Offspring to survive in difficult conditions because of determined cooperation between the two parents (distribution of parental roles, shared protection of the Offspring against threats, shared provision of food to the Offspring etc.), the casual relationship strategy contributes to greater genetic diversity of the Offspring (Fisher et al., 2002).

Although short-term relationships are very frequent in various human communities, the majority of studies conducted heretofore have focused on marriages. Studying such type of heterosexual relationships seems hindered by the prevailing set of values, on the one hand, and the tendency to keep promiscuity and infidelity a secret, on the other (Buss, 2007). According to Buss (2007), casual sex is a taboo, but at the same time a subject of fascination. In many cultures, it is typical for adolescents and young people to experiment with their abilities while seeking to establish themselves on the so-called marriage market and build their own sexual strategies (Buss, 2007).

One type of such relationship has been described by Bisson and Levine (2009) as a relationship in which friends engage in uncommitted sex. In literature, this type of relationship has been referred to as sex friends, fuck bodies or friends with benefits (abbreviated as FWBs). In their studies, Bisson and Levine found that 60% of surveyed undergraduates admitted to a physical relationship with a friend. Of those, 28% remained FWBs, 36% remained friends after quitting sexual relations, 26% ended the relationship altogether and in 10% of the cases, the relationship became permanent.

The FWB phenomenon is of interest also to Polish psychologists and sociologists. Based on their findings (Jankowska, 2009), one can say that such relations appear most frequently among single people under 30 years of age, undergraduates or well educated individuals, financially independent and living primarily in big cities. FWB relationships are governed by specific rules, with no restrictions, no responsibilities and no emotional commitment (Jankowska, 2009). In most cases, FWB partners will have known each other for a long time. Engaging in such relationships requires mutual consent (Jankowska, 2009).

As discussed above people engage in different types of relationships, such as mono- vs. polygamous, heterosexual vs. homosexual as well as relationships differing with respect to how long they last (short- vs. long-term). This study attempts to   identify psychological conditions for choosing one of three types of monogamous heterosexual relationships: long-term, short-term or FWB. Friends with benefits relationships (FWBRs) are defined as ”relationships between cross-sex friends in which the friends engage in sexual activity but do not define their relationship as romantic” (Hughes, Morrison, Asada 2005, cf. Fahs, Munger, 2015, p. 189). Longterm and short-term relationships in which the couple engage in sexual activity and define their relationship as romantic (Izdebski, Ostrowska, 2003).

To outline the theoretical framework of this study, first we focus on discussing the theory of attachment, triangular theory of love and the concept of sociosexual orientation. Literature on relationships (presented below) indicates that the most important psychological factors, determining individuals' decisions while selecting the type of sexual relationship is the style of attachment, the ability to form relationships based on intimacy, passion and commitment and individuals' sociosexual orientation.

The attachment styles

The theory of attachment was co-authored by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth (Ainsworth, Bowlby, 1991), who drew their inspirations from a number of fields: aetiology, cybernetics, developmental and cognitive psychology and psychoanalysis. Their theoretical and empirical achievements revolutionised our understanding of the processes responsible for developing close relations (Bretherton, 1992). It is thanks to them that we know today that the attachment style develops in infancy and childhood and is characterised by a search for closeness with the attachment figures (usually parents) that provide comfort and security in difficult and unpleasant situations. A child develops secure attachment (a secure attachment style) in response to sensitivity and availability of the attachment figure. When experiencing incoherent responses from the attachment figure and uncertainty about his or her availability in difficult and uncomfortable situations, a child develops an anxious/ambivalent attachment style. Finally, unavailability and insensitivity of one's primary caregiver results in developing an avoidant attachment style. Main and Solomon (1990) discovered the third insecure attachment style - disorganized/disoriented attachment. It is characteristic of people with no consistent, organised strategy for regulating emotions or coping with stress. This type of attachment results from early childhood experience of receiving no support in difficult situations. As children such individuals were subjected to overwhelrning situations, rejection or even aggression on the part of their caregivers. Frequently changing caregivers or caregivers exhibiting disordered behaviours have a destructive influence upon their charges, who experience agitation, rage and helplessness. The return of such caregiver does not sooth; on the contrary it increases anxiety. In their psychological construct, persons with disorganized attachment style possess no constant, consistent model of ties, which would lay the foundations for their subsequent emotional and cognitive functioning. These three insecure attachment styles result in negative self-assessment (the feeling of worthlessness, fear of rejection) and a tendency to mistrust and avoid deeper emotional relations with people. According to Bowlby  (1982), the image of attachment figures is reinforced later in life, sustained and included in one's permanent internal working models regarding oneself and others.

Hazan and Shaver (1987, 1994) went even further and concluded that romantic love and bond between partners develop through the same attachment processes as those observed in childhood. In other words, adults in romantic relationships are subject to the same mechanisms as those present in mother-child relation. The attachment theory gave rise to the Tripartite Model of Adult Romantic Attachment (Peloquin et al., 2014), formulated by Shaver, Hazan, Bradshaw and Mikulincer (Shaver, Hazan, Bradshaw, 1988; Mikulincer, Shaver, 2007). They proposed three innate behavioural systems fundamental for the optimal functioning of relationships formed by couples: (1) ”attachment system”; (2) ”caregiving system” and (3) ”sexuality system”. These systems are at the same time discrete and mutually dependent. Each of them organizes behavioural responses which maximize survival, adaptation, and reproduction in the context of social relationships (Mikulincer, Shaver, 2007; Peloquin et al., 2014).

Peloquin et al. (2014) describe the activating mechanism for each system of the Tripartite Model of Adult Romantic Attachment. According to these authors ”the attachment system” consists of internal operating models of self and others (sense of self-worth, positive expectations of others - or quite to the contrary: a negative appraisal of the self and a negative appraisal of the others, fear of rejection e.g., avoidance, mistrust), and therefore is identical with the style of attachment. Peloquin et al. (2014) describe how in adulthood, ”the attachment system” lays the foundations for the perception of the self and partners, and regulating emotions and behaviours in romantic relationships. Therefore love relationships involve attachment processes in which a romantic or marital partner often becomes an adult's primary attachment figure. The insecure attachment is manifested through anxiety and avoidance (Peloquin et al., 2014). ”The caregiving system” and ”the attachment system” are complementary and theoretically developed to increase safety and viability of dependent others (Mikulincer, Shaver, 2007). When an individual's ”attachment system” is activated in an adult love relationship, his or her partner's ”caregiving system” may be triggered to satisfy partner's attachment needs, alleviate distress, restore the sense of safety, and promote exploration and self-actualizing behaviours (Peloquin et al., 2014). The attachment and caregiving systems are crucial in adult love relationships as both partners alternate between providing and eliciting care, security and comfort (Schachner, Shaver, Mikulincer, 2003). Kunce and Shaver (1994) showed empirically that caregiving behaviours are related to ”the attachment system” with respect to the internal working models of self and others. Individuals' caregiving behaviours can be predicted from their attachment insecurities (Mikulincer, Shaver, 2007). People with chronic attachment insecurities may fail to recognize distress signals in others and respond to them appropriately (Collins et al., 2006). In romantic relationships, apart from the attachment and caregiving systems, ”the sexual system” is also relevant. (Peloquin et al., 2014). For optimal sexuality in a continuing relationship, an individual must experience a confluence of security, caring, and sexual gratification with healthy concern for oneself and the  partner (Mikulincer, Shaver, 2007). ”The sexual system” is important not only in the initial phase of relationship but it is also essential for relationship's continuation and quality. Sexual satisfaction is often analysed with respect to its integration with the attachment and caregiving systems (Peloquin et al., 2014).

According to Mikulincer and Shaver (2007), the primary attachment system strategy involves pursuing closeness with significant persons (i.e. people with whom one wants to spend long time and on whom one can count). A secure attachment style develops when significant persons are available, emotionally sensitive and attentive to one's individual needs. Then, an individual feels secure, which encourages him or her to create close emotional bonds with others. In contrast, persistent unavailability, indifference and insensitivity of significant person lead to selecting a secondary strategy that manifests itself either in ”hyperactivation” or ”deactivation” of the attachment system. Hyperactivation is characteristic for people with an anxious attachment style and lets them bond with unresponsive partners. Persons with anxious attachment style carefully monitor relations with others for a deficit or impairment of physical or emotional closeness (Cassidy, Berlin, 1994; Simpson, Ickes, Grich, 1999). Deactivation concerns closeness-seeking inhibitions as a result of unavailability of the significant person, which is the most typical strategy for people with an avoidant attachment style. Such people strive to maintain their independence and self-reliance while denying emotional needs or states that could activate ”the attachment system”. Strongly avoidant individuals often do not allow themselves to be emotionally close to their partners in a relationship, and turn to them for support only in difficult situations (Simpson, Rholes, Nelligan, 1992; Butzer, Campbell 2008). A secure attachment style in a relation with a sexual partner is characterised by the feeling of security and satisfaction with the partner's closeness. An anxious/ambivalent style manifests itself as increased alertness and anxiety regarding stability of one's relationship and fear of the loss of partner. Finally, an avoidant style is characterised by a reluctance to establish close, open relations with one's partner (Plopa, 2007).  

Still, very little is known about links between specific attachment styles and the inclination to engage in casual or long-term sexual relationships. DeWall et al. (2011) suggest that persons with an avoidant attachment style show greater interest in sexual contacts outside their current relationship and stronger inclination to betrayal. Similar findings were obtained by Allen and Baucom (2004), both among undergraduates in informal relationships and among married couples. Furthermore, people with an avoidant attachment style show less restrictive attitudes towards sex and have a greater number of casual and uncommitted sexual partners. Although observable among representatives of both sexes, this pattern seems to be slightly more apparent among men (Gentzler, Kerns, 2004; Schachner, Shaver, 2004).

Components of love: passion, intimacy, commitment

In the course of a relationship, the motivation to engage in a specific type of sexual and emotional closeness between the partners changes. According to Robert Sternberg (2007), such change is unavoidable and arises from the internal nature of relations in close relationships. According to Sternberg, changes affecting closeness between partners that take place during their relationship can be understood through the three components of love: intimacy, passion and commitment.

Intimacy is understood in general as positive feelings towards one's partner, manifested in a desire to care for partner's welfare, experiencing happiness with and because of the partner, feeling high regard for one's partner and being able to count on the partner when needed; mutual understanding and sharing experiences with the partner, giving and receiving emotional support, intimate communication with the partner and belief that the partner is an important element of one's life (Wojciszke, 2010, p. 10). The dynamics of intimacy is subtle and changes with subsequent stages of the relationship. Each relationship begins with an attempt to find common language and develop an ability to understand and learn partner's needs. Accuracy of such attempts increases as the relationship continues. Intimacy itself grows relatively slowly to gradually disappear with time (Sternberg, 1986).

Passion is a mixture of strong emotions. Lust, joy and admiration mix with pain, anxiety, envy and longing. It is often accompanied by strong physiological arousal, search for physical closeness, desire to engage in erotic contacts but also a need to protect and care or build self-esteem. Passion usually lasts between 18 and 36 months. Passion grows at a tremendous pace as the relationship continues to fade nearly just as fast. In its nature, passion is the absolute admiration for one's partner. Feelings, thoughts and emotions that accompany this love component do not lend themselves to reasoning.

Anthropological studies have provided evidence for the existence of passion and passionate love in almost all of the 166 cultures studied. It should be noted that passion, treated as urge, can be understood in two ways, either as a desire to bond with someone who cannot be substituted by anyone else, or a desire to engage sexually with any person who meets certain minimum requirements; the latter is particularly applicable to men (Wojciszke, 2009). Wojciszke cites Philip Shaver et al. (1996, cf. Wojciszke, 2010, p. 22), who define ”love" as one or all of these conditions. For Shaver intimacy is an attachment, commitment is ”love as care” while passion is sexual attraction - ”I am sexually attracted to you and cannot stop thinking about you. I am aroused and truly alive in your presence. I want to see you, touch you, absorb you, become one with you, lose myself in you”.

Commitment involves conscious decisions and actions aimed at transforming a relationship from a love affair into permanent relationship. This behaviour is consciously controlled. In a successful relationship, commitment is a stable element that cements a relationship and, on investing certain effort, makes it possible to keep it going. Dynamics of the commitment component is different from changes taking place in intimacy and passion. It grows slowly at first, but then accelerates as  passion and intimacy develop. The level of commitment remains stable throughout the relationship (Huesmann, Levinger, 1976).

Depending on the intensity of individual components of love, one can distinguish several different types of relationships, or types of love: 1) liking - intimacy without passion and commitment, b) infatuation - passion without intimacy and commitment, 3) empty love (a burnt out relationship) - commitment without passion and intimacy, 4) romantic love - intimacy and passion without commitment, 5) fatuous love - commitment and passion without intimacy (typical for extramarital affairs), 6) companion love - commitment and intimacy without passion, and 7) complete love, which is the full combination of the three components (Wojciszke, 2009, p. 25).

Sociosexual orientation

The concept of sociosexuality was introduced to science as early as the mid20th century by Alfred Kinsey (1948, 1953), an American biologist. He used it to describe individual differences regarding one's inclination to engage in relationships based on uncommitted sex. However, it was not until Simpson and Gangestad (1991) constructed the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (SOI), a self-report tool designed to measure one's sociosexual orientation, that the construct in question attracted strong interest from psychologists.

Although the original concept of sociosexuality referred to intensification of actions related to engaging in uncommitted sex, the construct evolved with time towards bipolar continuum of reproductive strategy in which one end describes short-term relationship preferences while the other - long-term relationship preferences.

The concept of sociosexual orientation proved remarkably useful in explaining certain psychological aspects of selecting and maintaining sexual partners, such as preferences of men and women for choosing a partner (Simpson, Gangestad, 1992 ; Fletcher et al., 1999), the process of courtship (Simpson, Gangestad, Biek, 1993; Simpson, Gangestad, Nations, 1996) and, finally, stability (Simpson, 1987) and quality (Simpson, Gangestad, 1991; Ellis, 1998; Jones, 1998) of relations in close relationships. However, the most important benefit of introducing and operationalizing the concept of sociosexuality is the ability to study individual differences in an overall level of promiscuous behavioral tendency (in the preferred number of sexual partners, attitude towards uncommitted sex and in the frequency of sexual fantasies about a person or persons other than the current partner) (Penke, Asendorpf, 2008).

To summarize, there are many indications that factors governing these choices belong to the following three areas: a) individual's beliefs regarding the availability and sensitivity of the attachment figure that are expressed through the his/her style of attachment, b) feelings, actions and decisions towards the partner that are reflected in a corresponding intensity of intimacy, passion and commitment, and c) an individual inclination to prefer casual and uncommitted sexual contacts that is expressed through the individual's sociosexual orientation. Therefore, the theory of attachment (and its follow up - Tripartite Model of Adult Romantic Attachment),  triangular theory of love and the concept of sociosexual orientation form the suitable theoretical framework for this study.

Research problem and hypotheses

The purpose of this study is to establish the role of level of attachment style prototypes, levels of passion, intimacy and commitment and sociosexual orientation in choosing one's type of sexual relation. We find it important to answer the following question: are there differences among people engaged in long-term, short-term and FWB relationships in terms of their level of attachment style prototypes, levels of passion, intimacy and commitment and sociosexual orientation?

The theoretical and empirical premises presented above allowed us to formulate the following research hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1 - People in long-term relationships differ from those in short-term and FWB relationships in the intensity of their level of attachment style prototypes. People in long-term relationships are characterised by greater intensity of the secure attachment style prototype, whereas those in short-term or FWB relationships show greater intensity of anxious and/or avoidant styles.

Hypothesis 2 - People in long-term relationships do not differ from those in short-term or FWB relationships in terms of passion.

Hypothesis 3 - Unlike people in short-term or FWB relationships, those in long-term relationships show a higher level of intimacy and commitment.

Hypothesis 4 - Unlike people in short-term or FWB relationships, those in long-term relationships show a more restrictive sociosexual orientation.

Method

Subjects

The study group consisted of 90 persons: 45 heterosexual men (raw data from Zielińska, 2011) and 45 heterosexual women, (age 18-35) and was divided into three sets: FWBs, people in short-term relationships (shorter than 12 months) and people in long-term relationships (longer than 12 months). Each group consisted of 30 individuals. Upon recruitment for the study, all subjects, having been familiarized by the researcher with the definitions of the different relationship types, decided by themselves which group to join (short-term, long-term or FWB). Subjects for the study were recruited through social media (grono.net, facebook.com), where announcements were placed with a link to the questionnaire and survey. People were also recruited by word of mouth through friends, colleagues and acquaintances. All subjects were promised anonymity. Members of the FWB group were recruited in the same manner as the rest of the study subjects. In addition, due to the uniqueness of the FWB group (the term FWB aroused controversy), it was unlikely that people who qualify for this group will openly admit it) Therefore information about recruitment for the study and a link were placed, apart from the social media listed above, on thematic websites such as friend4fuck.pl, fucking-friends.pl. People interested in the study were subjected to a uniform procedure of completing on-line questionnaires, which were collected in an electronic mail box set up specifically for this purpose. Among subjects there were also people who were recruited in direct conversations. Such people were contacted through friends and completed the questionnaires in person.

Instruments

Three questionnaires were used in the study. First, the subjects filled in the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ) developed by Mieczysław Plopa (2008). The ASQ consists of 24 statements that form 3 subscales to measure the intensity of the three attachment style prototypes in close relationships: Secure, Anxious/Ambivalent and Avoidant. High scores on the Secure Style subscale are recorded for people whose relationships are based on mutual trust and openness. These people also feel confident that their partner will be available for them in difficult times. They also feel secure and satisfied about being with their partner. A high score on the Anxious/Ambivalent Style subscale is related to anxiety about relationship's stability, increased alertness and worry that partner may not find the relationship sufficiently attractive, which translates into decreased level of affection, openness and requital of feelings. Finally, a high score on the Avoidant Style subscale is characteristic for people with no tendency to establish close and open relations with partner. Those people react with embarrassment or nervousness when partner expects closeness. Estimated with Cronbach's alpha internal consistency measurement, the reliability of ASQ subscales is satisfactory and ranges between .78 for the Anxious/Ambivalent Style subscale and .91 for the Secure Style subscale.

The Cronbach's alpha coefficients of reliability calculated in our study did not differ significantly from those obtained by Plopa (2007) and were as follows: for the scale of Secure Style - .86, for the scale of Anxious-Ambivalent Style - .85, and for the scale of Avoidant Style - .83.

Then, the surveyed subjects filled in the Measuring of love questionnaire (Wojciszke, 1995). It consists of 36 statements divided into three groups that measure the level of Robert Stemberg's three love components: Intimacy, Passion and Commitment. Cronbach's alpha reliability coefficients calculated in our study for the individual scales were as follows: Intimacy - .89, Passion - .88 Commitment - .94.

Finally, the subjects filled in the Revised Sociosexual Orientation Inventory Questionnaire (SOI-R) developed by Penke and Asendorpf (2008). The SOI-R consists of 9 items that identify the general sociosexual orientation with three aspects of sociosexuality: a) Behaviour subscale shows the preferred number of sexual partners (items 1 to 3), b) Attitude subscale provides information on one's attitude towards uncommitted sex (items 4 to 6), and c) Desire subscale establishes the frequency of sexual fantasies about a person or persons other than the current partner (items 7 to 9). High SOI-R scores show a non-restrictive orientation (oriented towards shortterm relationships), whereas low SOI-R scores show a restrictive orientation (oriented towards long-term relationships). Psychometric properties of the Polish version of the SOI-R have been measured in the studies by Marzec, Łukasik, jastrzębski (2014). Cronbach's alpha scores were the following: .85 for the general score, .79 for the sociosexual Behaviour subscale, .56 for the sociosexual Attitude subscale and .91 for the sociosexual Desire subscale. The Cronbach's alpha coefficients of reliability calculated in our study proved to be equally satisfactory and were as follows: for the Behaviour scale - .91, for the Attitude scale - .86 and for the Desire scale - .87.

Results

Since the research hypotheses regarded differences between three groups of persons, involved in three different types of relationships, the univariate analysis of variance ANOVA seemed the most justified statistical method to verify these hypotheses. To apply this method we needed to determine, whether the data collected during the experiment fulfil its premises. 

First means and standard deviations were calculated, achieved by the subjects on the Attachment Style Questionnaire (Table 1), Love Measurement questionnaire (Table 2) and the Revised Socio-sexual Orientation Inventory SOI-R (Table 3).

Table 1. Means and standard deviations achieved by subjects representing different types of relationships on the Attachment Style Questionnaire

Table 2. Mean and standard deviation scores for subjects representing different types of relationships on the Love Measurement questionnaire

Table 3. Mean and standard deviation scores for subjects representing different types of relationships in the Revised Socio-sexual Orientation Inventory

In the next step, agreement in distribution of the analysed variables compared to normal distribution was studied using the Kohnogorow-Smirnow test in all subject groups. For some variables this test was statistically significant. However analysis of variance is considered relatively resistant to breaking the assumption of normality of the distribution (compare Young, Veldman, 1965, after: Bedyńska,  Cypryańska, 2013). Moreover, a more in-depth analysis of the values of skewness and kurtosis for these variables showed that they fall within the range of [-1.00 to 1.00] which means, that deviations in distributions from normality are not significant enough to require data transformation and they justify the use of parametric statistics (compare Bedyńska, Cypryańska, 2013, p. 35). 

In the next step, homogeneity of variances for the analysed variables was measured using Levene's test in each group. The results are presented in Tables: 4, 6, and 8. In most cases the results were insignificant and showed the homogeneity of variances. In cases where the test results were significant, Welsch's nonparametric test was applied.

Attachment

In accordance with hypothesis 1 greater intensity of the secure attachment style prototype would be expected in subjects in long-term relationships (longer than 12 months). Also greater intensity of anxious and/or avoidant style was expected in persons in short-term relationships (shorter than 12 months) and in FWB relationships.

The results of univariate analysis of variance - presented in Table 4 - indicate that the main effect of the ”type of relationship” factor is statistically significant for intensity of two attachment styles. Persons in FWB and short-term relationships (shorter that 12 months) and in long-term relationships (longer than 12 months) differ with respect to the intensity of the secure [F (2, 87) = 12.59; p < .001] and the intensity of avoidant styles of attachment [F (2, 87) = 12.35; p < .001]. No statistically significant differences were observed between groups with respect to the intensity of the anxious-ambivalent attachment style.

Table 4. Results of comparisons between three groups of subject engaged in different types of relationships and factors in Levene's test of homogeneity of variances with respect to the results of the Attachment Style Questionnaire

To determine the direction of those differences, repeated comparisons were

done using a post-hoc test of the Smallest Significant Difference NIR. Results of analysis of the significance of differences in the studied groups are presented in Table 5. To increase the reliability of these results, results from the liberal NIR test have been compared with results of a more conservative Scheffe test. These comparisons showed no disagreements.

Table 5. Post-hoc differences (t-test) between subjects in FWB relationships (N = 30), persons in short-term relationships (N = 30) and persons in long-term relationships (N = 30) with respect to the results of the Attachment Style Questionnaire

Data presented in Table 5 indicate that subjects in long-term relationships (longer than 12 months) as well as persons in short-term relationships (shorter than 12 months) differ in a statistically significant manner from persons in FWB relationships with respect to the intensity of secure and avoidant attachment styles. Persons in FWB relationships achieved lower results on a scale measuring intensity of the secure attachment style compared to persons in long-term relationships (t = 9.17; p < .05) and persons in short-term relationships (t = 6.93; p < .05), as well as higher results on a scale measuring intensity of the avoidant style compared to persons in long-term relationships (t = 9.30; p < .05) and persons in short-term relationships (t = 7.97; p < .05).

In summary, hypothesis 1 was confirmed in the part regarding differences between persons representing different types of relationships with respect to the intensity of the attachment styles. As expected, persons in long-term relationships,  compared to persons in FBW relationships, showed higher intensity of the secure style of attachment, while persons in FWB relationships - higher intensity of the avoidant attachment style. Hypothesis 1 however was not confirmed with respect to persons in short-term relationships, because their results on the Attachment Style Questionnaire did not differ significantly from the results of subjects in long-term relationships.

Love

The results of statistical analyses aimed at verifying hypotheses 2 and 3 are presented in Table 6.

Table 6. Results of comparisons between three groups of subjects representing different types of relationships and factors in Levene's test of the homogeneity of variances with respect to the results on the Love Measurement questionnaire

According to hypothesis 2 it was expected that subjects in long-term relationships do not differ from persons in short-term relationships and in FWB relationships with respect to intensity of passion. According to hypothesis 3, subjects in long-term relationships as opposed to subjects in short-term relationships and FWB relationships would show higher level of intimacy and commitment.

Univariate analysis of ANOVA showed statistically significant differences between subjects representing the three different types of relationships. Depending on the type of relationships (long-term vs. short-term vs. FWB), the subjects differed with respect to the intensity of love components. These differences became apparent with respect to intensity of passion [F (2, 87) = 4.30; p < .05], intimacy [F (2, 87) = 8.85; p < .001] and commitment [F (2, 87) = 11.34; p < .001].

Differences in the intensity of love components among subjects involved in the three different types of relationships were analysed using repeated comparisons.

A post-hoc NIR test was applied. To increase the reliability of results obtained from the liberal NIR test, they were compared to results of a more conservative Scheffe test. These comparisons showed no disagreements. For the Intimacy scale, which did not satisfy the requirement of homogeneity of variances, Tamhane's test was used, the results of which also showed no disagreements with the results of NIR test. Data are shown in Table 7.

Table 7. Post-hoc differences (t-test) between subjects in FWB relationships (N = 30), in short-term relationships (N = 30) and in long-term relationships (N = 30) with respect to love components

Data included in Table 7 show that subjects in FWB relationships compared to persons in long-term relationships (longer than 12 months) scored significantly lower on the Passion scale (t = 8.57; p < .05), on the Intimacy scale (t = 14.33; p < .05) and on the Commitment scale (t = 14.40; p < .05). They also received lower scores in comparison to persons in short-term relationships (shorter than 12 months) - respectively in Passion (t = 7.07; p < .05), Intimacy (t = 12.37; p < .05) and Commitment (t = 11.37; p < .05). No statistically significant differences have been observed however between subjects in long- and short-term relationships with respect to love components.

In summary, hypotheses 2 and 3 were confirmed mostly with respect to the differences between subjects in long-term relationships compared to persons in FWB relationships. Repeated comparison tests showed that persons involved in long-term relationships do not differ from persons in short-term relationships in the intensity of passion, intimacy nor commitment. However they differ in these respects from persons in FWB relationships.

Sociosexual orientation

In the last step of the statistical analysis, hypothesis 4 was verified. It was expected that persons in long-term relationships compared to persons in short-term relationships and FWB relationships exhibit more restrictive socio-sexual orientation. This was analysed using univariate analysis of variance, the results of which are presented in Table 8.

Table 8. Results of comparisons between three groups of subjects involved in different types of relationships and factors in Levene's test of the homogeneity of variances with respect to the results of the Revised Socio-sexual Orientation Inventory SOI-R

Since in the case of Behaviour and Desire, results of the Levene's test turned out to be significant, the analysis was complemented with Welch's test.

Results of univariate analysis of variance showed that subjects differed with respect to socio-sexual orientation depending on the type of their relationship. These differences became apparent in all three aspects of the socio-sexual orientation: with respect to behaviour [F (2, 87) = 12.17; p < .001], with respect to attitude [F (2, 87) = 6.11; p < .01] and with respect to desire [F (2, 87) = 27.78; p < .001]. In order to study these differences repeated comparisons were done using two post-hoc tests: NIR test for Attitude and Tamhane's test for Behaviour and Desire, since in the case of the latter two, Levene's test showed lack of homogeneity of variances in the compared groups.

Table 9 presents the differences between the studied groups with respect to three dimensions of socio-sexual orientation. Persons in FWB relationships obtained higher scores on the Behaviour scale both as compared to persons in short  term relationships (t = 4.70; p < .05) as well as long-term relationships (t = 6.73; p < .05). Similar differences have been observed with respect to Attitude. On this scale persons in FWB relationships obtained higher scores in comparison with persons in short-term relationships (t = 2.37; p < .05) as well as long-term relationships (t = 2.27; p < .05). In case of differences on the Desire scale, persons in FWB relationships obtained higher results that persons in short-term relationships (t = 4.50; p < .05) and long-term relationships (t = 8.80; p < .05), while persons in short-term relationships scored higher than persons in long-term relationships (t = 4.30 ; p < .05). It should be added that Tamhane's test applied for the Behaviour and Desire scales showed no differences with results to NIR test.

Table 9. Post-hoc differences (t-test) between subjects in FWB relationships (N = 30), in short-term relationships (N = 30) and persons in long-term relationships (N = 30) with respect to socio-sexual orientation

Our findings confirm hypothesis 4. Subjects in long-term relationships differ from both persons in FWB relationships as well as in short-term relationships with respect to their socio-sexual orientation, especially with respect to desire expressed in the frequency of sexual fantasies with persons other than the current partner. Persons in long-term relationships exhibited the lowest level of socio-sexual orientation, which means that they are characterised by the most restrictive socio-sexual orientation.

Discussion

This study indicates that people in short-term and long-term relationships show greater intensity of secure attachment style compared with those in FWB relationships. This result, partially in accordance with hypothesis 1, confirms the assumptions of Mikulincer and Shaver (2007) theory that the primary attachment  system strategy consists in seeking closeness with significant persons i.e. people with whom one wants to spend a long time and on whom one can count in times of need. It seems reasonable therefore that people representing a secure attachment style prototype are more willing to engage in long-term relationships in which the loved one is emotionally available and responsive to individual needs. All this is conducive to experiencing security and encourages deepening the emotional bond with the partner (Trzęsowska-Greszta, Szymczyk, 2014).

Contrary to expectations, people in short-term relationships do not differ significantly from those in long-term relationships in terms of the intensity of attachment style prototypes. This could be explained by the weakness of the 12 month cut-off employed in this study. Unfortunately, the authors failed to obtain information to conclude that relationships classified herein as short-term ended before that time.

People in FWB relationships show a significantly greater intensity of avoidant attachment style and lower level of secure style compared with people in long-term and short-term relationships. This fact is also reflected in other studies which show that people with an avoidant attachment style show the tendency to become psychologically and emotionally independent from their partners (Hazan, Shaver, 1994) while denying the emotional needs or states that could activate ”the attachment system" (Simpson, Rholes, Nelligan, 1992; Mikulincer, Shaver, 2007; But'zer, Campbell, 2008). Furthermore, they exhibit an instrumental attitude to sex. For them sex is a means to achieve goals other than building closeness, for example to increase their status or prestige among peers (Schachner, Shaver, 2004). As a result, people with an avoidant attachment style engage in a many casual sex relationships without any intention to establish an emotional relationship. They do not transpose the sexual relation onto other areas of the relationship with the partner as if these two spheres were independent (Birnbaum et al., 2006). It is worth noting that people with an avoidant attachment style have less restrictive attitudes towards sex, which translates into a greater number of casual and uncommitted sexual partners.

In summary hypothesis 1 regarding differences between people representing different relationships with respect to the intensity of attachment styles was partially confirmed. As expected individuals in FBW relationships exhibited lower intensity of the secure attachment style and higher intensity of the avoidant attachment style compared to people from other relationship types. Hypothesis 1 was not confirmed however with respect to subjects in short-term relationships, because their results on the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ) did not significantly differ from the results of subjects in long-term relationships.

Contrary to expectations, people in FWB relationships do not differ from people in long-term relationships in terms of intensification of the anxious/ambivalent style. This fact seems to explain the attachment style activation and functioning model proposed by Mikulincer and Shaver (2007). According to them, the anxious/ ambivalent style, which develops in response to experiencing persistent uncertainty regarding the availability of the attachment figure, triggers ”hyperactivation” strategy that focuses on repeatedly attempting to draw partner's attention to oneself and one's needs (Trzęsowska-Greszta, Szymczyk, 2014). Therefore people with  an anxious attachment style strive to maintain closeness with significant persons and carefully monitor relations with them for deficits or impairments of physical or emotional closeness (Cassidy, Berlin, 1994; Simpson, Ickes, Grich, 1999). This is why they may find engaging in FWB relationships very frustrating, which was confirmed in a study by Khoshakhlagh (2014) in which the anxious style was an accurate predicator of an increasing desire to engage in sexual activity with partner in the current long-term relationship.

The aforementioned studies also showed that the level of passion does not differ between people in different types of heterosexual relationships and that it remains equally high regardless of whether the relationship is short-term, long-term or FWB. This means that hypothesis 2 was fully confirmed. It arises primarily from the fact that erotic desires towards partner are a fundamental sign of passion (Wojciszke, 2010). Passion is also this component of love that is linked to experiencing euphoria and many, often contradicting, emotions. It also focuses one's actions on a single goal - getting favours from the loved one (Fisher, 2007). The findings of this study are confirmed by a study conducted by Fisher (2004) on the Americans and the Japanese. The study showed that the level of passion in romantic relationships is not related to age, gender, sexual orientation or even ethnicity. According to Fisher (2007), the universalism of passion makes it one of three emotional and motivational systems that in all birds and mammals evolved into mating behaviours, pairing, reproduction and care of the Offspring.

The level of intimacy and commitment occurred to differentiate people in short-term or long-term relationships from those in FWB relationships. Similar differences were revealed among both male and female subjects. Thus, hypothesis 3 has been confirmed, albeit only partially. Contrary to expectations, feelings and actions aimed at bonding, developing closeness and mutual dependence between partners are present with similar intensity in short-term and long-term relationships alike. It may be expected that also in this case, that the lack of the predicted differences in terms of intimacy and commitment arises from adopting a week criterion of distinguishing long-term and short-term relationships. It appears that the 12 month cutoff point was in fact useful rather as a criterion significant for showing the dynamics of close relationships. Indeed, we do not have any data to determine whether the relationships categorised as short-term (shorter than 12 months) really ended after that time. In this sense, our findings fit into theoretical stipulations predicting the level of intimacy and commitment to increase as relationship continues (Wojciszke, 2010). The continued increase in intensity of those two love components in the compared subject groups should be interpreted as capturing changes in intimacy and commitment from casual and uncommitted FWB relationship, through an early phase of a romantic relationship towards a relationship that becomes long-term one after 12 months (Izdebski, Ostrowska, 2003).

As expected, persons in long-term relationships show higher levels of intimacy and commitment compared to those engaged in Friends with Benefits relationships. Thus, our study confirmed that FWB relationships are, by definition, based on lack of responsibility and emotional commitment, and as in Sternberg's theory,  one should not expect FWBs to take any steps to maintain the relationship and transform a romantic relation into a long-term and serious relationship.

In summary it should be noted that both hypotheses 2 and 3 were confirmed first of all with respect to the differences between people engaged in long-term relationships and individuals in FWB relationships. Subjects from long-term relationships did not differ from individuals in short-term relationships neither with respect to the intensity of passion, intimacy nor commitment. However they differed in those respects from people in FWB relationships.

Our study also suggests that persons in FWB relationships differ from those in long-term relationships in terms of all three areas of sociosexual orientation. These findings confirm hypothesis 4, which predicted that compared with people in long-term relationships, FWBs declare a greater number of uncommitted sexual relations, show less restrictive attitudes towards sex with different partners and reveal higher frequency of sexual fantasies.

The authors are aware of the limitations of the study, which first is the small sample size. However in the analysis of the results statistics for small groups were used and they showed a clear trend. Second limitation is the lack of representativeness of the sample. This kind of sample, especially persons engaged in FWB, is not easy to obtain. Another limitation is that subjects recruiting for the study, decided themselves which group to join (short-term, long-term or FWB). Despite the limitations, this study provides some initial findings contributing to understanding of individuals, engaged in long-term, short-term and FWB relationships, in terms of their level of attachment style prototypes, levels of passion, intimacy and commitment and sociosexual orientation. Research on the links between three components of love, attachment styles and sexuality is still in the early stages.

Replication is needed with larger samples in future study. It would also be useful to study gender differences in all three types of relationships. Finally, future research should examine the potential association between attachment style, three components of love and sociosexual orientation.

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PDF Abstrakt

Rocznik: 2016

Tom: XXI

Numer: 4

Tytuł: Attachment style, love components and sociosexual orientation of men and women in different types of heterosexual relationships

Autorzy: Elżbieta Greszta, Jarosław Jastrzębski, Zbigniew Izdebski, Monika Kowalska-Dąbrowska, Aleksandra Januszkiewicz

PFP: 490-513

DOI: 10.14656/PFP20160401