Attachment, sexual experience, and sexual pressure in romantic relationships: A dyadic approach


  • Audrey Brassard, Department of Psychology, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada; Phillip R. Shaver, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis; Yvan Lussier, Department of Psychology, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada.

    Audrey Brassard is now at Department of Psychology, Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada.

  • This research was supported by a doctoral grant from Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada to Audrey Brassard and subsides from Conseil Québécois de la Recherche Sociale to Yvan Lussier.

Audrey Brassard, Université de Sherbrooke, Department of Psychology, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada J1K 2R1, e-mail:


The goal of this research was to extend the previously documented associations between attachment style and sexual experiences in samples of adolescents and college students to adult couples in committed romantic relationships. A sample of 273 French-Canadian heterosexual couples aged 18–35 years completed measures of attachment-related anxiety and avoidance, sexual coercion, and sexual experiences in their relationships. Avoidant attachment was related to two strategies for limiting intimacy in sexual relationships: avoidance of sexual encounters and avoidance of sexual fantasies about one’s partner (the latter for women only). Anxious attachment appeared to interfere with comfortable intimacy, especially among men, who viewed their partner as avoiding sex and who applied more insistent pressure to have sex.