Attachment figures play an important role in Attachment Theory. In the original research, a child’s mother filled that role. However, if we are talking adult romantic relationships, clearly we are talking about someone or something else. What or who is an attachment figure? In our latest podcast, Rebecca and I discuss this question with Dr. Phil Shaver, ”the father of adult attachment theory.”
If the player does not show, you can click here to listen: 004 - Attachment Figure Defined .
(Please note: The audio is transcribed “as is,” spoken grammar glitches and all.)
Welcome to Wefulness where we talk about the science of profound connection. I’m Wefulness co-editor Gregory Blake. Today we are talking with relationship expert Dr. Rebecca Jorgensen and adult attachment researcher, Dr. Phil Shaver.
G: Hi Becca.
R: Hey Greg!
G: Today’s section of the Shaver interview involves who, or I guess even what, can be an attachment figure. I was wondering if you could give us a brief intro to that before we go to the actual piece with Phil.
R: Well we think of attachment figures and we’re talking about adult romantic relationships. Generally, that’s what we’re talking about. That’s what I usually talk about. But when we think about attachment figures it can be a variety of people: friends, close relatives, parents, spouses would be in our romantic lives, our romantic relationship. Some single people are even what we’d consider attached, closely bonded to, closely connected, have feelings of warmth and depend on, say, their pets. We see that a lot in the singles scene. Where we… It’s really, who do we go to? Where do we go for comfort, for a sense of belonging, for feeling accepted? Where do we turn when we need some sort of safely? Those would be the things that we would be thinking about. Some, you know, we all have attachment figures, but some people also use what I call counterfeit attachments, which is another whole discussion, turning to objects, turning away from people to maybe addictions or that sort of thing to try to get attachment needs met, it is a counterfeit sort of an attachment. But, basically we are thinking about attachment figures who are people that we feel connected to that we turn to for acceptance, belonging, comfort and safety. Those are the things I think of when I think of attachment: acceptance, belonging, comfort and safety.
G: Awesome. Okay, let’s hear the next part of our interview with Dr. Shaver.
R: OK, here we go.
G: I would love a good definition of an attachment figure. Because, again, there’s the mother/child – that’s what everyone knows. What else?