Relationship Maintenance from an Attachment Perspective

Juwon Lee, Gery C. Karantzas, Omri Gillath, R. Chris Fraley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Here, we adopt an attachment theoretical perspective on relationship maintenance, based on the idea that a romantic relationship is an attachment bond. In doing so, we emphasize the role of normative attachment processes. We commence by introducing the attachment behavioral system and its three functions of proximity seeking/maintenance, safe haven, and secure base. We then describe the associations between normative attachment processes and relationship maintenance, including a discussion of evolutionary functions. The following part of the chapter explains how individual differences in attachment organization emerge based on early experiences with attachment figures, and why these differences are associated with relationship maintenance. Next, we review the literature on the associations of attachment style with three maintenance behaviors that have been widely studied in relation to attachment: support, communication, and commitment-enhancing behaviors. We conclude our chapter by discussing the association between attachment style and relationship satisfaction, which is regarded as an indicator of successful relationship maintenance. Overall, the normative processes of the attachment system align well with relationship maintenance behaviors, and attachment security tends to positively predict the enactment of maintenance behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRelationship Maintenance
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Process, and Context
EditorsBrian G Ogolsky, J Kale Monk
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781108304320
ISBN (Print)9781108419857
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Publication series

NameAdvances in Personal Relationships


  • Attachment
  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Individual differences
  • Relationship maintenance
  • Satisfaction
  • Support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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