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Attachment and daily sexual goals: A study of dating couples


  • Emily A. Impett, Institute of Personality and Social Research, University of California, Berkeley; Amie M. Gordon, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley; Amy Strachman, eHarmony Labs, Pasadena.

  • Preparation of this manuscript was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality awarded to the first author and a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award awarded to the third author. We would like to thank Katie Bishop, Renee Delgado, and Laura Tsang for assistance with data collection.

Emily A. Impett, University of California, Institute of Personality and Social Research, 4143 Tolman Hall #5050, Berkeley, CA 94720-5050, e-mail:


This research provides the first empirical investigation of how both partners’ attachment orientations contribute to daily sexual goals. Both members of 84 dating couples who attended a large urban university on the West Coast in the United States completed a measure of attachment orientation, and 1 member completed a measure of sexual goals for 14 consecutive days. Analyses showed that attachment anxiety was associated with engaging in sex to please one’s partner and express love, whereas attachment avoidance was associated with engaging in sex to avoid negative relational consequences and was negatively associated with engaging in sex to express love. Daily sexual goals were also associated with the partner’s attachment orientation. Gender moderated many of these associations. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.