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Exploring the Relationship Between Hurtful Messages and Partner Attachment
Unformatted Document Text:  Hurt and Attachment 18 Discussion Much work has associated romantic attachment with early parental attachment. However, very little research has associated communication outcomes or processes with romantic attachments (exceptions being Guerrero, 1996; Guerrero & Burgoon, 1996; Le Poire et al., 1999). It is argued that hurtful messages (HMs), defined as verbal, nonverbal, or omissions of behavior that elicit emotional pain or distress, can be conceptualized as a lack of responsivity or insensitivity (i.e., behavioral patterns that shape the attachment relationship formed). In other words, the presence (or absence) of HMs in a romantic relationship may be related to attachment styles. When considering the infant-caregiver relationship, it could be argued that HMs by the caregiver play a role in the type of attachment the infant develops. However, in adult attachment, the issue of causality is more complex. The working models (e.g., regarding trust and fears) a partner has when entering a relationship may influence perceptions of messages that are potentially hurtful, but the experience of HMs (or a lack of HMs) throughout the relationship may modify the initial attachment. Therefore, the relationship between HMs and attachment in romantic dyads is likely non-recursive. The present analysis attempts to predict perceptions of HMs with romantic attachment style (i.e., frequency of HMs in the overall relationship and the degree of hurt experienced during a conflict). Specifically, it was predicted that greater preoccupation tendencies would be related to greater reports of HMs in the overall relationship. The results of the current investigation, do indeed, show an association between preoccupation tendencies and HMs; partners who were more preoccupied with their romantic partners reported experiencing more HMs. Their preoccupation is based in high fears of abandonment and moderate fears of intimacy. In other words, preoccupieds are afraid that once their romantic partners get to know them, they will

Authors: Dailey, Rene. and Le Poire, Beth.
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Hurt and Attachment 18
Discussion
Much work has associated romantic attachment with early parental attachment. However,
very little research has associated communication outcomes or processes with romantic
attachments (exceptions being Guerrero, 1996; Guerrero & Burgoon, 1996; Le Poire et al.,
1999). It is argued that hurtful messages (HMs), defined as verbal, nonverbal, or omissions of
behavior that elicit emotional pain or distress, can be conceptualized as a lack of responsivity or
insensitivity (i.e., behavioral patterns that shape the attachment relationship formed). In other
words, the presence (or absence) of HMs in a romantic relationship may be related to attachment
styles. When considering the infant-caregiver relationship, it could be argued that HMs by the
caregiver play a role in the type of attachment the infant develops. However, in adult attachment,
the issue of causality is more complex. The working models (e.g., regarding trust and fears) a
partner has when entering a relationship may influence perceptions of messages that are
potentially hurtful, but the experience of HMs (or a lack of HMs) throughout the relationship
may modify the initial attachment. Therefore, the relationship between HMs and attachment in
romantic dyads is likely non-recursive.
The present analysis attempts to predict perceptions of HMs with romantic attachment
style (i.e., frequency of HMs in the overall relationship and the degree of hurt experienced during
a conflict). Specifically, it was predicted that greater preoccupation tendencies would be related
to greater reports of HMs in the overall relationship. The results of the current investigation, do
indeed, show an association between preoccupation tendencies and HMs; partners who were
more preoccupied with their romantic partners reported experiencing more HMs. Their
preoccupation is based in high fears of abandonment and moderate fears of intimacy. In other
words, preoccupieds are afraid that once their romantic partners get to know them, they will


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