Adult attachment and sexual behavior


Anthony F. Bogaert Community Health Sciences Department, Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada L2S


The relations between adult attachment processes and sexuality were examined in a community sample of 792 young adults (327 men and 465 women) from the Niagara region of Canada. Participants completed questionnaires that included Simpson’s (1990) measure of adult attachment, self-reported physical attractiveness, erotophilia, and a variety of sexual behavior measures (e.g., number of sexual partners, age of first sexual experience, frequency of sexual behaviors in the past year, whether an affair had occurred in the past year, and consistent condom usage). The sexuality measures were factor analyzed to extract common factors. The results were modest, but a number of significant relationships between sexuality and attachment were observed. For example, people scoring higher on a secure attachment index perceived themselves as more physically attractive, whereas people scoring higher on an anxious attachment index perceived themselves as less physically attractive, had an early first intercourse (and more lifetime partners), more infidelity, and took more sexual precautions (e.g., condom usage). The results were generally stronger in women, with most of the attachment/sexuality associations in the full sample being driven by the results in women. Implications for understanding sexual variability, including high-risk sexual behavior, are discussed.