Attachment features and functions in adult romantic relationships

Marie E. Heffernan, R. Chris Fraley, Amanda M. Vicary, Claudia Chloe Brumbaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present research examined the development of attachment bonds in adult romantic relationships using a cross-sectional internet survey (Study 1) and a longitudinal study (Study 2). Results suggested that attachment features and functions emerge in a specific sequence that begins with proximity-seeking, followed by safe haven, and finally secure base. Our cross-sectional data indicated that people who had been in relationships for longer were more likely to use their partners for attachment functions. However, in our longitudinal study, after controlling for relationship length and age, there was relatively little change in attachment features and functions over time. The data also indicated that adult attachment bonds might develop more quickly than has been previously assumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-693
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Adult development
  • attachment behavior
  • interpersonal relationships
  • passionate love
  • relationship initiation
  • social dating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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