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Exploring the Relationship Between Hurtful Messages and Partner Attachment
Unformatted Document Text:  Hurt and Attachment 9 experience frequent HMs may dissociate themselves from their partners in order to protect themselves from further harm. Similar to the effects of unresponsivity, the research suggests that a greater amount of HMs experienced is associated with decreased trust and intimacy. Thus, HMs likely transform individuals’ working models as well as their relational fears, and consequently the attachment in adult relationships. However, determining causality (i.e., the effect of HMs on attachment) in adult relationships is difficult. In terms of the infant-caregiver relationship, a causal relationship could be argued. In the initial stages of life, the infant seeks the caregiver for comforting behaviors in times of distress. Attachment theory suggests that the caregivers’ responses to these care-seeking behaviors shapes the infants’ attachments to the caregivers. However, in an adult romantic relationship, causality is not as clear. Partners enter the relationship with highly formed working models. These models may influence the perceptions individuals have about the HMs they experience from their partners. Yet, interactions continually modify the working models (i.e., trust and self-worth, intimacy and abandonment fears) thereby modifying the attachment. Thus, the relationship between HMs and attachment is likely nonrecursive; the HMs experienced likely influence the attachment style, and conversely, the attachment style likely influences the perception of the HMs. Thus, unless a longitudinal examination is undertaken, only the associations between attachment and HMs can be discussed. Hypotheses and Research Questions If HMs are conceptualized as a form of unresponsivity or insensitivity, HMs likely have similar impacts on the development of attachment relationships. The frequent or inconsistent occurrence of HMs in a romantic relationship are likely associated with less secure and more dismissive-avoidant or preoccupied attachments. Based on this reasoning, certain relationships

Authors: Dailey, Rene. and Le Poire, Beth.
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Hurt and Attachment 9
experience frequent HMs may dissociate themselves from their partners in order to protect
themselves from further harm. Similar to the effects of unresponsivity, the research suggests that
a greater amount of HMs experienced is associated with decreased trust and intimacy. Thus,
HMs likely transform individuals’ working models as well as their relational fears, and
consequently the attachment in adult relationships.
However, determining causality (i.e., the effect of HMs on attachment) in adult
relationships is difficult. In terms of the infant-caregiver relationship, a causal relationship could
be argued. In the initial stages of life, the infant seeks the caregiver for comforting behaviors in
times of distress. Attachment theory suggests that the caregivers’ responses to these care-seeking
behaviors shapes the infants’ attachments to the caregivers. However, in an adult romantic
relationship, causality is not as clear. Partners enter the relationship with highly formed working
models. These models may influence the perceptions individuals have about the HMs they
experience from their partners. Yet, interactions continually modify the working models (i.e.,
trust and self-worth, intimacy and abandonment fears) thereby modifying the attachment. Thus,
the relationship between HMs and attachment is likely nonrecursive; the HMs experienced likely
influence the attachment style, and conversely, the attachment style likely influences the
perception of the HMs. Thus, unless a longitudinal examination is undertaken, only the
associations between attachment and HMs can be discussed.
Hypotheses and Research Questions
If HMs are conceptualized as a form of unresponsivity or insensitivity, HMs likely have
similar impacts on the development of attachment relationships. The frequent or inconsistent
occurrence of HMs in a romantic relationship are likely associated with less secure and more
dismissive-avoidant or preoccupied attachments. Based on this reasoning, certain relationships


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