The roles of parental and partner attachment working models in romantic relationships

Keely A. Dugan, R. Chris Fraley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attachment theory suggests that romantic relationship dynamics are not only shaped by how people relate to their partners but also by the bonds they share with other important people in their lives. The present study investigated how parental and partner attachment representations work together to predict romantic relationship functioning. In addition, we examined how the associations between these working models and relationship functioning might differ in newer versus more established relationships. We measured attachment representations and relationship functioning in a sample of 1,469 adults involved in romantic relationships. Our results suggest that partner-specific attachment might mediate the associations between parental attachment working models and relationship satisfaction. Furthermore, it appears that the association between partner-specific attachment anxiety and relationship satisfaction is stronger in more established relationships, whereas partner-specific avoidance is associated with satisfaction to similar degrees across relationships of varying lengths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2154-2180
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • attachment
  • parent
  • relationship length
  • romantic partner
  • security in personal relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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