Different people have different approaches to romantic relations and these approaches affect their finances, suggests a new study. Everyone approaches romantic relationships differently.On one end of the spectrum are people who crave closeness so much, they may come across as “clingy”. On the other end are those who value their independence so deeply that they avoid getting too close to anyone else.
Those two extremes of romantic attachment orientation — known as attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance — can both have negative consequences for well-being due, at least in part, to financial reasons, a study led by the University of Arizona found.
The study, based on data collected from 635 college-educated young adults in romantic relationships, found that people with high attachment anxiety and people with high attachment avoidance both reported low life satisfaction and low relationship satisfaction. Those with attachment anxiety also reported low financial satisfaction.
In addition, the study found that those with high attachment anxiety and those with high attachment avoidance engaged in more irresponsible financial behaviours. They also perceived their partners’ financial behaviors as being irresponsible.
“This study suggests that romantic attachment orientation can affect financial behaviours and perceptions of partners’ financial behaviours,” said the lead researcher Xiaomin Li.It’s well-established in the scientific literature that finances play a significant role in well-being. Li’s study highlights how attachment orientation can affect well-being via finances.
“People’s own less responsible financial behaviours and their perceptions of their romantic partners’ less responsible financial behaviours were associated with multiple life outcomes,” said another researcher, Li.
A person’s attachment orientation usually develops in early childhood and persists throughout a person’s lifetime for all different types of relationships, including romantic ones, Li said. Attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance are both considered “insecure attachment orientations.”
Li and her colleagues found that for study participants with attachment anxiety, the participants’ own irresponsible financial behaviours were associated with low financial satisfaction and low life satisfaction.
Participants’ negative perceptions of their partners’ behaviours were also associated with low financial satisfaction and low life satisfaction, as well as low relationship satisfaction.For participants high in attachment avoidance, their negative perceptions of their partners’ financial behaviours — but not their own irresponsible financial behaviours — were associated with low relationship satisfaction.
Li said those with high attachment anxiety and those with high attachment avoidance may engage in irresponsible financial behaviour for different reasons. They may engage in compulsive buying or make expensive purchases as a way of showing that they are “better than others,” she said.
There may also be different explanations for why anxious and avoidant study participants both perceived their partners’ behaviours as irresponsible. Those high in attachment avoidance simply may not value their partner very highly, Li said. On the other hand, those high in attachment anxiety might distrust their partners as the result of their own insecurity in the relationship.
Li hopes future studies will continue to explore how nonfinancial factors, such as attachment orientation, may affect financial behaviours and perceptions and, in turn, well-being.