Are You A Needy Or Anxious Partner? This Might Be To Blame

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If you haven't read up on attachment theory, it's time to start! Identifying your attachment style can be a game-changer, expanding your self-awareness and drastically improving your relationships.

Attachment theory is mostly rooted in the idea that the way you learned to love determines how you love now. It has everything to do with your childhood, your parents' parenting style, and the experiences you've had in love thus far. And now, a new study shows that your attachment style—and your likelihood of staying happily married for life—can be traced even further back than your childhood, all the way to your DNA.

To find this connection, researchers at the Yale School of Public Health examined genetic variations in 178 married couples. Both partners filled out a survey that helped researchers analyze their marital security and satisfaction, and they also provided saliva samples for the researchers to conduct a DNA test. Published in the journal PLOS ONE, the results showed that if one partner had a specific genetic variation, they reported being happier. This genetic variation is known as the GG genotype, and it's located within the oxytocin gene receptor. If you're not familiar with oxytocin, it's known as the "love hormone" and courses through our veins during various "bonding situations," like right after sex or during breastfeeding.

Interestingly, they also found that individuals with this GG genotype have a less anxious attachment style, meaning they were more secure in how they approached relationships. To compare, people with an anxious attachment style are often described as "needy" or "overanalyzing" as a result of their past relationship experiences. But this study suggests that their need to constantly validate the relationship and stay close to their partner might not be all learned behavior; it might have a genetic component as well.

So what does this all mean? According to the study's lead author and associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health, Joan Monin, Ph.D., "This study shows that how we feel in our close relationships is influenced by more than just our shared experiences with our partners over time... In marriage, people are also influenced by their own and their partner's genetic predispositions."

The good news is that reading up on attachment styles and understanding how yours is influencing your behavior can help you pick a better partner, communicate more efficiently with your partner, or even help you realize it's time to move on from a relationship that was always doomed due to extreme attachment style differences.

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