Attachment style and long-term singlehood


  • Dory A. Schachner, Psychology Department, California State University, Chico; Phillip R. Shaver, Psychology Department, University of California, Davis; Omri Gillath, Psychology Department, University of Kansas.

  • The authors are grateful for financial support from the Marchionne Foundation and for research assistance from Gil Woo and Dina Biscotti.

Dory A. Schachner, California State University, Chico, Department of Psychology, Chico, CA 95929, e-mail:


This study examined how long-term single people satisfy their attachment and sexual needs. A community sample of single and coupled adults (N = 142) located in the United States completed measures of attachment style, attachment figures, loneliness, depression, anxiety, quality of relationships with parents, and sexual behavior. In a structured interview, they answered questions about their childhoods and managing attachment, support, and sexual needs. Quality of childhood relationships with parents as well as use of attachment-related words was coded. Single participants were as likely as coupled ones to exhibit attachment security and rely on attachment figures, although compared to coupled participants, they reported higher levels of loneliness, depression, anxiety, sexual dissatisfaction, and troubled childhood relationships with parents.