Perhaps one of the most complex aspects of long-term relationships is sexual satisfaction because of factors such as imbalance of desire (real or perceived), pressure, power, shame, and partners’ Attachment styles.
Securely Attached – Attuned and Receptive
While challenges such as an imbalance of desire can still impact sexual satisfaction in Securely Attached couples, they often circumvent difficulties arising from Insecure Attachment and sexual satisfaction. Sue Johnson, PhD, and author of the book, Hold Me Tight, calls sex between two Securely Attached partners “synchrony sex.” A Secure bond nurtures emotional openness and responsiveness outside of the bedroom. Couples cultivate relational connectedness and attunement. Once it carries over to the bedroom, Securely Attached partners can relax and sink deeply into the pleasure of lovemaking.
Avoidant Attachment – Physical Release
When engaging sexually with an Avoidant partner, the orgasm is often the grand prize. Many Avoidant lovers seek constant experimentation and heightened arousal to gain the same satisfaction. Because Avoidantly Attached individuals are sometimes prone to addiction, sex can often become an obsession. These partners may also opt for pornography as a low-risk stimulant to achieve orgasm in lieu of navigating emotional danger zones with their partner.
Avoidantly Attached lovers might not make direct eye contact and often disconnect immediately following orgasm. Sex is a safe way for them to connect physically while emotional intimacy remains fleeting.
Ambivalent Attachment – Grasping for Connection
Ambivalent (Anxious) lovers may use sexual connection as proof that they are cherished, but because they are so tuned in to every action and signal from their partner, they may find themselves feeling uncertain, self-conscious, or even rejected and send their partner inaccurate signals, making the sexual encounter negatively charged or awkward.
Because anxiety is part of the Ambivalent adaptation, these lovers might feel empty or lonely once the sexual connection completes due to fear of loss and insecurity; they wonder if they measure up. Anxious partners might also have difficulty differentiating between love and sex, seeking multiple partners to gain their actual goal – acceptance and security.
Avoidant and Ambivalent Partnerships
When Insecurely Attached partners bond, sexual relationships can become a push and pull struggle that leaves both partners dissatisfied. Avoidant pulls away, and Ambivalent clings tightly – a habitual battle. Arguments may ensue and cause both partners to conclude that sex is too much trouble. They might drift without intimate physical bonding and choose to forgo sex altogether.
Establishing Securely Attached Sexual Relationships
Fortunately, our Attachment styles are malleable throughout our lifetimes. Secure Attachment is possible and attainable with proper practice and guidance. A trusted therapist with advanced training and clinical experience can provide couples counseling or individual counseling to support Secure behaviors.
When an Insecurely Attached lover pairs up with a Securely Attached individual, their Secure partner can provide a stable foundation on which to build a deeply connected, emotionally and sexually fulfilling relationship. At Trauma Solutions, we offer a wealth of resources regarding Attachment Theory and creating healthy adult relationships. Join the conversation and dive into a supportive environment of friends and colleagues. Whether you are new to Attachment therapy or an experienced practitioner, we look forward to this journey with you.