It’s common knowledge that attachment style can affect your relationship, but how about your sex life? A study published in Sexual and Relationship Therapy suggests that insecure attachment styles are associated with less sexual satisfaction and more likelihood to engage in sexting to avoid losing their partner.
Attachment style is a significant factor when it comes to romantic relationships. Insecure attachment can be associated with high anxiety, avoidance, negative self-views, negative views of others, and more. People who are securely attached are more likely to have happy and close relationships.
Sex is a big part of romantic relationships and is another factor that has implications for the quality of romantic relationships. Technology has opened up new avenues for sexual contact, including sexting and cybersex. The literature on the relationship between attachment style and sexting is limited and conflicting, and this study seeks to better understand that relationship.
For their study, Audrey-Ann Lefebvre and colleagues utilized 422 young adults who were in an exclusive relationship for Study 1 and 142 mixed-sex couples for Study 2 to serve as the sample. Participants were aged 18 to 29 years old and were recruited online through Qualtrics. Most participants were Canadian. Participants completed measures on attachment, sexual satisfaction, and frequency and motivation of technology-mediated sexual interactions.
Results were consistent with previous research, finding that people with insecure attachment styles reported lower levels of sexual satisfaction. Additionally, this study found that people with insecure attachment styles used technology-based forms of sexual interaction more frequently and had differing motivations for using them than securely attached individuals did.
Insecurely attached participants reported using sexting or other cyber forms of sexual interaction to avoid negative consequences, such as losing their partner, which was associated with lower sexual satisfaction. Utilizing technology-mediated sexual methods to approach or get closer to a partner was associated with increased sexual satisfaction.
This study took steps into better understanding how attachment style is related to sexting and sexual satisfaction. Despite this, there are limitations to note. Due to the cross-sectional nature of this work, no causative conclusions can be drawn. Additionally, self-report measures are vulnerable to desirability bias and memory inaccuracy. Lastly, only cisgender participants were utilized; future research should be more inclusive of other sexualities in order to have more generalizable results.
“Our findings add to the current literature by revealing new associations among attachment insecurity, [technology-mediated sexual interactions], and sexual dissatisfaction in young adults. They support the relevance of considering [technology-mediated sexual interactions], along with attachment insecurity, to understand young adults’ sexual functioning,” the researchers concluded.
“Clinicians working in the context of couples’ therapy could also help romantic partners in discussing their [technology-mediated sexual interactions] motivations and establishing their own set of rules or preferences when engaging in [technology-mediated sexual interactions], especially if they are less sexually satisfied.”
The study, “A contemporary exploration of the relationship between attachment and sexual satisfaction: the role of technology-mediated sexual interaction“, was authored by Audrey-Ann Lefebvre, Ariane Audet, Mathilde Savard, Marie Christine Mackay, Audrey Brassard, Marie-Ève Daspe, Yvan Lussier, and Marie-Pier Vaillancourt-Morel.