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Exploring the Relationship Between Hurtful Messages and Partner Attachment
Unformatted Document Text:  Hurt and Attachment 3 EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HURTFUL MESSAGES AND PARTNER ATTACHMENT Attachment theory argues that individuals are born with a physiological need to attach to a primary caregiver in order to establish a sense of security (Bowlby, 1969; 1988). The interactions with the caregiver, specifically the responsivity of the caregiver, shape the type of attachment formed. More recently, this theory has been expanded to adult relationships (e.g., Collins & Read, 1990; Hazan & Shaver, 1987; Le Poire et al., 1997). Partner attachment, though initially influenced by parent attachment, is continually modified by partners’ interactions (Le Poire, et al). What has not been considered is the impact of actual types of messages on the transformation of partner attachments. Specifically, hurtful messages (i.e., a form of communication that results in emotional injury) may have an impact on the final form of partner attachments. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationships between hurtful messages and attachment to romantic partners. Both caregiver and partner attachment are explored in terms of the role hurtful messages may play in attachment development. Hurtful Messages Hurt, though linked with many other emotions, has been suggested to be a unique emotion of its own (Leary & Springer, 2001; Vangelisti, 1994). Vangelisti and Sprague (1998) suggest that “hurt is typically conceptualized as a result of feeling emotionally injured or wounded by another” (p. 125). L’Abate (1997) adds that hurt is one of the most avoided emotions. Because hurt can stem from any message (i.e., insults, aggressions, or even constructive criticisms), it is best to define hurtful messages (HMs) in terms of the result rather than the structure or content of the message. Based on existing definitions (L’Abate, 1997; Vangelisti, 1994; Vangelisti & Sprague, 1998), HMs for the purposes of this paper are

Authors: Dailey, Rene. and Le Poire, Beth.
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Hurt and Attachment 3
EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
HURTFUL MESSAGES AND PARTNER ATTACHMENT
Attachment theory argues that individuals are born with a physiological need to attach to
a primary caregiver in order to establish a sense of security (Bowlby, 1969; 1988). The
interactions with the caregiver, specifically the responsivity of the caregiver, shape the type of
attachment formed. More recently, this theory has been expanded to adult relationships (e.g.,
Collins & Read, 1990; Hazan & Shaver, 1987; Le Poire et al., 1997). Partner attachment, though
initially influenced by parent attachment, is continually modified by partners’ interactions (Le
Poire, et al). What has not been considered is the impact of actual types of messages on the
transformation of partner attachments. Specifically, hurtful messages (i.e., a form of
communication that results in emotional injury) may have an impact on the final form of partner
attachments. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationships between hurtful messages
and attachment to romantic partners. Both caregiver and partner attachment are explored in terms
of the role hurtful messages may play in attachment development.
Hurtful Messages
Hurt, though linked with many other emotions, has been suggested to be a unique
emotion of its own (Leary & Springer, 2001; Vangelisti, 1994). Vangelisti and Sprague (1998)
suggest that “hurt is typically conceptualized as a result of feeling emotionally injured or
wounded by another” (p. 125). L’Abate (1997) adds that hurt is one of the most avoided
emotions. Because hurt can stem from any message (i.e., insults, aggressions, or even
constructive criticisms), it is best to define hurtful messages (HMs) in terms of the result rather
than the structure or content of the message. Based on existing definitions (L’Abate, 1997;
Vangelisti, 1994; Vangelisti & Sprague, 1998), HMs for the purposes of this paper are


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