Adult attachment and romantic partner preference: A review

Bjarne M. Holmes, Kimberly R. Johnson

    Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

    74 Citations (SciVal)


    In this literature review we explore inconsistencies in studies relating self-reported adult attachment to romantic partner preference. Such studies have tested one of three hypotheses: that individuals prefer partners with a similar attachment style, a complementary attachment style, or the attachment style most likely to offer attachment security. Consistent with all hypotheses, secure individuals prefer similarly secure partners. Discrepancies are found, however, regarding insecure individuals' preferences. Evidence supporting similarity and attachment-security hypotheses is primarily reported in research on attraction to hypothetical partners. Evidence supporting the complementarity hypothesis comes from research on matching between partners in long-term relationships. We suggest that individuals' working model of other may be more salient during initial attraction, whereas individuals' working model of self may be more salient during relationship maintenance. We discuss these findings, focusing on individuals' needs for self-enhancement and self-consistency in relation to partner preference and attachment style.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)833-852
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
    Issue number6-7
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


    • Adult attachment
    • Partner preference
    • Review


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