Sexual relations do not stop being a particular type of relations. And where do we learn what the world is like and what we can expect from others? Especially in childhood… Once the association is established, it remains to be seen what we can do with it.

Sex is part of our natural ecosystem . However, the fact that it is in our nature, in the sense that we have really sophisticated mechanisms for this function, does not imply that it is an expeditious act of difficulties.

What the studies tell us is that the problems often have their origin in unhealthy attachment styles , which directly attack trust and complicity in the development of sexual relations, as well as in expectations or in the interpretation of what happens.

Attachment is ‘the fondness for something or someone’ and sexual desire is ‘the impulse or root of the most diverse manifestations of psychic activity’ or ‘the desire for sexual pleasure’. Both concepts are related, in fact, we can see it evidenced in our day to day.

For example, when a person depends on another, even though they know it is not convenient for them, or when someone has a partner with whom they suffer when having a sexual relationship, but pretends to please the other.

“There is no love without sexual instinct. Love uses this instinct as a brutal force, as the brig uses the wind.

The way we have learned to relate to each other influences how we do it in the sexual field.

Types of attachment

The ability to establish links can occur in different ways, depending on the experiences we have had and our personal characteristics, among other variables.

John Bowlby, an English psychoanalyst, developed the attachment theory, emphasizing that there are different types and that these are essential in the behavior and development of the human being. Also, Mary Ainsworth, an American psychologist, contributed to this theory, who added, the study in the laboratory to see how the interaction between the main caregiver of the child and a stranger occurs in a familiar environment.

Thus, attachment theory arose from the analysis of how a child relates to his caregiver . There is a certain consensus when it comes to talking about the following types of attachment:

  • Secure attachment . The child learns to create trusting relationships with others.
  • Anxious and ambivalent attachment . The child learns that he has no influence on the behavior of others. Her parents are attentive or indifferent without the little one being able to establish an association with her behavior.
  • Avoidant attachment . The parents are not available and the child learns that she cannot count on others.
  • Disorganized attachment . It is a mix between anxious and avoidant attachment and is caused by insecure or negligent parental behavior.

Attachment and sexual desire, how are they related?

How we have learned to relate influences how we do it on a sexual level. In this sense, Attaky, Kok & Dewitte (2021), studied the differences in desire and its association with sexual satisfaction; in addition, they also tried to understand how these relationships are sensitive to the type of attachment.

They studied 100 couples and the findings suggested that higher levels of sexual desire were associated with lower scores of avoidant attachment.

On the other hand, when the identified attachment style was anxious, there was greater desire . The findings of this study suggest that people with higher avoidant attachment have less interest in sex as a way to avoid intimacy, while those with higher anxious attachment use sex for connection or comfort.

Other studies also support this idea, proposing that avoidant attachment is related to intimacy problems and self-sufficiency behaviors, which cause sexual problems in the relationship; and lower sexual desire. Therefore, people with this type of attachment may be more dependent on masturbation and pornography.

While anxiously attached people need to be validated by the other, so they will tend to please their partners to satisfy their own acceptance needs. Therefore, they usually present greater sexual desire related to that need. So, people with avoidant and anxious attachment can have problems in the sexual relationship.

What about people who are securely attached?

Because they have developed skills to identify that everyone can have different perspectives, be with their own emotions, and have strong boundaries, they tend to trust their instincts and be more assertive with sexual desire.

So, securely attached people can develop less or more sexual desire, taking their intentions into account and reading those of others.

Securely attached people develop their sexual desire with not only themselves but also others in mind.

Attachment and sexual desire: establishing a healthy path

By affirming that the bond we develop with our primary caregiver in childhood conditions our sexual desire, it can project the idea that  we are destined to forge toxic or healthy relationships depending on the type of attachment we have developed. However, it will not always be so.

The good news is that we have some tools with which we can act on this potential relationship. They would be the following:

  • Learn to regulate emotions. If you are more avoidant, it may be favorable to increase the intensity of emotions. If you are anxious, learn to decrease the emotional intensity.
  • Control impulsivity. Learn to delay taking action, and to pause before initiating or agreeing to have sex.
  • Communicate. Asking questions to have a greater perspective and understanding of the other’s point of view.
  • Separate emotions from perceptions. From those of the dating partner.

In short, the type of attachment can determine sexual desire. People with insecure attachment tend to have more problems, for example, those with anxious attachment fearing abandonment want to fully merge with their partner, which causes them to crave space and a higher sexual desire.

While avoidantly attached people, fearing rejection, have difficulty expressing their feelings and avoid intimacy; therefore, they will have less sexual desire. Incredible true?

Identifying our type of attachment will help us to know what patterns we fall into and set our will. In addition, being attentive to self-knowledge will help us to establish healthy sexual relations, taking into account our authentic sexual desire and without leaving the other aside.

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