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Discuss The Influence Of Childhood On Adult Relationships

765 words - 4 pages

Expectations of later relationships can be a continuation of early attachment styles, as the behaviour of the infant's primary attachment figure promotes an internal working model of relationships which leads the infant to expect the same in later relationships. Expectations of sexuality are also learned in relation to early attachment; for example individuals who had an avoidant attachment are more likely to seek sex without love.

In some cases, a child's internal working model can lead them to develop an attachment disorder. These individuals experienced abuse or neglect in childhood, and as a result they resist or reject intimacy in adult relationships. Their adult relationships may ...view middle of the document...

The links between some attachment types (e.g. insecure-anxious) and adult relationships were less clear than they were with other attachment types, suggesting that some attachment types are more unstable over time.

However, it could be that an individual's attachment type is determined by their current relationship as well as their attachment in childhood; this may be why happily married individuals are secure. Attachment theory does suggest that significant relationship experiences can alter attachment organisation. This idea is supported by the finding that relationship break-ups are often associated with a shift from secure to insecure attachment.

In a longitudinal study by Simpson et al., participants were studied at four key points: infancy, early childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Their attachment types and romantic relationships were assessed at some of these different stages to attempt to identify a relationships between them. The findings supported the claim that expression of emotions in adult romantic relationships can be traced back to a person's early attachment experiences. Securely attached children were more expressive and emotionally attached in later romantic relationships.

Research such as the aforementioned study may appear to indicate that early experiences have a very fixed effect on later adult relationships. However, there were many exceptions in which participants had positive adult relationships despite being insecurely attached. Experiences throughout an individual's life, as well as genetic factors, can also affect the functioning of adult...

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