ARIZONA —To be anxiously attached in a relationship is to desire closeness and display signs of clinginess. An avoidant person in a relationship, on the other hand, seeks independence and repels that closeness offered by an anxiously attached partner. Each style may sit on two different sides of the romantic spectrum, but a new study shows they come together to create parallel financial issues.
Researchers from the University of Arizona used data from 635 young, college students in romantic relationships. Students who exhibited either avoidant or anxious styles reported low satisfaction in relationships, as well as in their lives. The authors say romantic attachment style also leads to irresponsible spending.
How Attachment Impacts Spending Habits
Anxiously attached partners spend a lot of money to get their partner’s attention, the authors say. A clingy person may constantly feel the need to shower their partner with gifts, in hopes of making their partner satisfied. Conversely, the avoidant partner spends money on themselves to prove they are better than others and mark their independent territory.
“Some researchers have found that people with high attachment avoidance place a high value on materialism,” says researcher Xiaomin Li, a doctoral student at the university, in a statement. “Therefore, they may engage in compulsive buying or make expensive purchases as a way of showing that they are better than others. … People who are high in attachment anxiety may use money to get attention from other people. For example, they might buy expensive gifts to try to win a partner’s love.”
While both spending habits for both attachment styles are clearly irresponsible, the reasons vary. Li says it could be that the avoidant partner may not value their significant other so much. Clingy individuals may struggle with their ability to trust their partners because they don’t feel their relationships are stable.
Nonetheless, there’s an effect on the well-being, due to the constant need to prove their worth to another — never being able to reach a level of satisfaction.
In the grand scheme of things, both attachment styles are driven by one’s ego and the need to fill a void that sadly results — to some degree — a financial downfall.
Li and her research team hope for the continued study of attachment styles and the effects it has on a romantic partnership.
This study is published in Journal of Family and Economic Issues.