Out of all the respondents, 116 were women and 95 men, aged between 20 and 65, with an average age of 37.36. Some 44.3% of these people were single, while 46.7% were married, 4.9% in a relationship and 4.1% divorced. Out of the sample, 88.7% described themselves as heterosexual, 5.6% homosexual and 5.6% bisexual.
Out of the whole sample, 89.5% had a stable partner at the time of the study, with the average length of their relationships being 13.52 years. "It was very important for us that the people taking part should have an affective bond within a couple that had existed stably for a minimum period of time", adds Gmez Zapiain.
The most conflict-ridden couples anxious vs. avoidant
The combination of different styles of affection in a couple can explain the degree of conflict within it. "Each partner must have the ability to support the other when they are feeling down and need emotional support. Similarly, they must be able to place themselves in what we call a 'position of dependency', in other words they must be able to recognise their own need for support and to express this in times of anxiety", the expert explains.
An individual who is psychologically healthy can change flexibly from one position to another. The experts hypothesise that people who display security in their affection are able to do this, but that insecure types (anxious-ambivalent or avoidant) are clearly incapable.
"It is very interesting, from the perspective of a couple, to see how styles of affection combine within the relationship. The most explosive combination occurs when one of the partners in the couple is anxious and the other avoidant. This combination has more likelihood of ending up with the couple seeking help, or even breaking up", says Gmez Zapiain.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology