Attachment Theory

SOLO 90 | Attachment Theory


Attachment theory has made its way into the public sphere with the help of the recent book Attached. The theory contends that people approach intimate relationships from one of three perspectives: secure, anxious, or avoidant. Peter McGraw and Iris Schneider are joined by Geoff MacDonald, a social psychologist and relationship scientist who is part of a small group of people doing research on singlehood. In addition to tackling the strengths and weaknesses of attachment theory, they discuss Geoff’s research on singlehood and how he has identified a small group of long-term singles with an adaptive approach to solo living.

Listen to Episode #90 here


Attachment Theory

Attachment theory has made its way into the public sphere with the help of a book, not surprisingly titled, Attached. The theory contends that people approach intimate relationships from 1 of 3 perspectives, secure, anxious, or avoidant. We’re joined by Geoff MacDonald, a Social Psychologist and Relationship Scientist who is part of a small group of people researching singlehood. In addition to tackling the strengths and weaknesses of attachment theory, we discuss his research on singlehood and how he’s identified a small group of long-term singles with an adaptive approach to solo living.

As always, please rate and review the podcast and go to PeterMcGraw.org/solo to sign up for the bi-weekly Solo newsletter and our Slack channel, which is getting super active, discussing these episodes and a variety of other topics. Some discussions have focused on solo travel, how people hate family discounts, and topics I should be covering when I start hosting Solo events. Yes, Solo events are coming. I hope you enjoy the episode. Let’s get started.

Our guest is Geoff MacDonald. Geoff is a Social Psychologist and Relationship Scientist whose research examines attachment, intimacy, sexuality, and singlehood. He completed his PhD at the University of Waterloo and is now a full professor at the University of Toronto. Welcome, Geoff.

Thanks for having me.

We are joined by returned guest co-host, Iris Schneider. Iris is a Behavioral Scientist from the Netherlands. After obtaining her PhD in psychology, she lived and worked in the US before starting her academic position at the Social and Economic Cognition Research Group at the University of Cologne in Germany. She studied mixed feelings and conflict in judgment and choice. You know her from being a guest co-host on an episode with Kinneret Lahad, in which we talked about time and singlehood. Welcome back, Iris.

It’s good to be back. Thank you.

Geoff, I am thrilled to have you here. You are doing incredibly interesting work focused on singlehood, which is a small field at this point. Most people who say relationships study the other side, if that’s fair to say, they study partnerships, marriage, and so on. How did you end up becoming a singlehood researcher, part of a small pool of people? How many people do you think in the world study singlehood?

In psychology, it’s 3 or 4 outside of that. It’s not a lot. It’s growing though, for sure.

As is the number of single people, how’d you turn your attention to this?

In a way, it was a bit of a happy accident, as Bob Ross would say. On my postdoc, I met with a PhD student there. He happened to contact me out of the blue several years later. I had been doing all kinds of research on attachment theory, as had he. He was in an unfortunate situation where his advisor passed away. He was looking for someone more senior to mentor him on the project. He had started looking at attachment and singlehood. That’s Chris Pepping, who has done some fantastic work on this and was my entry into it.

Once I started doing it, I was influenced by the work of Bella DePaulo. She made some important criticisms about what the relationship science field is done. I took them seriously and, at the same time, had some of my perspectives on them. I thought that there was some value that I had to add to all of that. It didn’t hurt. I had been single for a long time myself and I felt like I had some personal insights like she was doing, too, that may be different from her experiences and worth bringing to the table.

Where was this postdoc?

He was at the University of Queensland when he was a PhD student. He’s a professor now, a lecturer as they call it in Australia, at one of the universities in Melbourne. I always get them confused, so I’m not going to say which one.

SOLO 90 | Attachment Theory
Attached: The New Science Of Adult Attachment And How It Can Help You Find – And Keep – Love

I’m trained as a psychologist but what I bring to the table for Solo is mostly personal experience. We’re here to talk largely about attachment theory and some of the work that you’ve done more broadly. This theory has made its way into the public sphere. There’s a well-known book called Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love. All single people were desperate for love. We can’t find it. We can’t keep it. Here comes Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller to help us solve our problems from the lens of attachment theory. Geoff, could you tell us a little bit about attachment theory and what are its roots? Is it the dominant theory of relationships?

It’s one of the dominant theories. It’s highly influential. It started back in the ‘50s when John Bowlby, who was a developmental psychologist, recognized some patterns amongst the kids that he was working with. He developed attachment theory out of his experiences. For the record, I call him the original hipster. He was doing evolutionary psychology before it was a thing. It was interesting bringing together a bunch of different ideas. The fundamental idea behind it all is that his developmental theory is focused on children and the children need to do something when they feel upset.

From an evolutionary point of view, children need some resources that they can go to because human kids are vulnerable. Attachment theory was based around the idea that what kids do when they’re upset is seek out an attachment figure. The attachment system is, in theory, what switches on when a kid is upset. They get upset and that creates this attachment system switching on and when the attachment system is switched on, you want to go out and seek closeness and comfort from your attachment figure, like your mother, your father, or caregiver.

What Bowlby talked about is the idea that a lot of times, when you’re a kid and when you’re upset and you go seeking out your mother or your father. What this means is that you’re going to get trial after trial of being upset, going and seeking your mom or your dad or whoever, and then finding out what happens. Do they comfort you and make you feel better? Do they ignore you? Do they abuse you in some way? His idea was that, in childhood, you eventually develop what he called working models, which is these deeply held beliefs about, “Am I a lovable person? When I turn to the people that I care about and want comfort from them, do I get it? Do people find me lovable or not?” Also, “Can I trust people? When I do open up to other people, are they good at making me feel better? Are they able to respond to my needs?”

Out of this, Bowlby said that kids develop the sense of like, “Can you trust other people and are you lovable?” This is going to influence. If you think that you’re lovable and you can trust other people, you’re probably going to be a lot more open to connecting with people and you’re going to be a lot more defensive if not. They characterized kids into different types depending on what their characteristic reactions to these situations are.

Mary Ainsworth was a University of Toronto graduate student and professor. She developed something called The Strange Situation. I always say that if I have a band, I’m going to call it The Strange Situation. I got a band and they didn’t want to call it that, which was upsetting. It was a way to test. Can you see regular patterns in kids? She identified three basic patterns. In The Strange Situation, what happens is you bring a kid in. Back then, it was usually a kid and their mother. We’ll talk in terms of kids and their mothers.

The kid and the mother are in this room and there are all these cool toys for the kid to play with. The test is what happens if the mother leaves and then comes back? This is a situation that should stress little kids. We’re going to find out how they manage their upsetness in that situation. With scared kids, what happens is mom leaves the room and when she comes back, the kid is upset while she’s gone and goes to mom for comfort. The mom hugs the kid or whatever and then the kid is like, “Everything’s cool now. There are toys over there. I’m going to go play with them.” The kid stops getting focused on mom and starts playing with the toys.

There are then the anxious kids who are upset when the mom leaves the room. When the mom comes back in the room, the kid goes to mom for comfort but can’t be calmed down. The kid is still upset and crying. What you see is this characteristic combination of upsetness and anger. The idea here is that this is a kid who’s had unreliable caregiving from their mom. It gets clingy when mom comes back, presumably, because the kid is not certain that mom is going to stay. Their mom’s behavior is unpredictable. The upsetness is there and also the anger. Mom is both the solution to the problem of being abandoned but is also the one doing the abandoning. They call it anxious ambivalence because they have this ambivalent feeling towards their caregivers.

There are the avoidant kids who might be upset or might not when mom leaves the room. When mom comes back in the room, they’re not particularly emotional. They look like they don’t care. There’s some evidence that suggests that if you hook the kids up to physiological recording equipment, the avoidant kids are buzzing physiologically. There is arousal. There’s upsetness under the surface but they may be protecting themselves by not displaying any emotion. The idea here is these are the kids who’ve learned not to trust their caregiver. Their caregiver is going to be insensitive in the way that they deal with them. The way to avoid them being insensitive and treating you badly is to not reveal that you’re upset in the first place. That’s the avoidant kids shutting down in these emotional situations.

The reason people like Amir Levine are writing these books about romantic relationships is that in about the ‘80s, there were some romantic relationship researchers who started to look at adult romantic relationships. Also, they’d be like, “These patterns that Bowlby was identifying these kids, if you look at the way that couples deal with one another, there are analogous things going on.” There was one study that was done by Chris Fraley. Back in the day, you could go to the airport gate to see your love went off. He did this observational study where he sat there watching couples as they separate and identified these same patterns. Some of them were upset but able to be calmed down. Some of them had this clingy and angry reaction. Some of them were indifferent about the whole thing.

That launched this whole line of research into the idea that maybe attachment theory in adults comes from the same system as that attachment system that was active in childhood. Those lessons that you learned as a kid carry into your adult relationships and affect you the same way where if you don’t feel like you’re lovable, you’re going to feel uncertain and clingy towards people in your adult life. If you feel lovable and you can trust other people, you’ll be happy to open up and connect with other people. If you feel like you can’t trust other people because you couldn’t trust mom or dad, you’re not going to trust your romantic partner and maybe even be disinterested in relationships. That’s it in a nutshell.

Before we get into it a little bit more, I want to say, yes, I remember those days at the airport. Whether you took the person you were dating to the airport or you met them at the airport also said a lot about supposedly how much you were into this relationship. Thankfully, now we have Uber.

I was wondering, Geoff, when you were talking about this, is the assumption that the working models from when people were little are transposed into adulthood? Is it a use of the same system and different working models that can develop over time?

When you say working models, what do you mean?

The working models of whether I am a lovable person and how my caregiver/loved ones react when I seek support in a stressful situation.

Originally, Bowlby’s idea was that these are ideas about relationships that crystallize to some extent in childhood. He hedged on this a little bit. He would say that they’re changeable, but there’s a core of them that crystallizes. When I talk to my students about this, I always use the example of an accent. Up to a certain age, your accent is malleable. I lived in Australia for four years and people started telling me that they thought that I lived in Ireland. I developed a little bit of an Australian accent, but I only made it as far as Ireland. That would have been his argument, it can change to a certain extent, but it’s going to solidify.

For whatever reason, this has fallen out of fashion now. Several relationship researchers have thought not just in terms of maybe you’ve got these central core ideas of lovability and trust that go across all of your relationships, but maybe there’s an extent to which it’s relationship-specific. You might have trouble feeling lovable and trusting one partner, but somebody else brings a different part out in you and so you have a different relationship with them. There’s is not great evidence on it. I don’t know why we don’t do this stuff anymore because it’s an obvious question.

Some of the best work that I’ve seen on it suggests to me that the part about trusting people can be changeable from relationship to relationship. In technical terms, the working model that involves trust is called the model of other. It’s like, “How are other people going to treat me?” Of course, that’s the thing that changes from relationship to relationship. How lovable am I is what will be called the model of self and it’s what do you think you’re bringing to every relationship? That’s the constant. The data that I’ve seen suggests to me that your feeling of lovability is the more constant part from relationship to relationship. Your feeling of trust is the part that’s more changeable from relationship to relationship.

We’re getting a little wonky. I want to pull back a tiny bit. We’re already leaning into some of the critiques of this. It sounds like one of the critiques is what you described as this idea of adult attachment style. These are the adult versions of those childlike behaviors and they are being used within romantic relationships, someone that you are having ongoing sexual romantic interactions with.

One of the critiques is you might be avoidant with one person, anxious with another person, secure with another person, or something like that. It may change. It’s not constant. If I hear you correctly, there’s not great evidence for that. My guess is that’s not easy to study. You need it within-subjects design. You need the same person having multiple romantic relationships that take on different things. That intuitively makes some sense. I’ve had relationships with women who describe themselves as jealous people, but they’re not jealous within our relationship because the way I behave towards them never brought out any jealousy.

Anecdotally, a lot of people can say, “I felt secure in this relationship. I felt anxious in this relationship.” I want to get into some of the other critiques but let’s talk a little bit about maybe some of the value and usefulness of this theory first. Before I throw it into a dumpster and light the dumpster on fire, let’s talk a little bit about how it’s been useful in psychology and then how it might be useful for an everyday person who’s read this book and understands that these concepts.

In terms of how it’s been useful for psychology, it’s a useful way to organize and describe what people do in relationships. For example, personality is an important factor in how you relate to people. In a way, attachment theory is it’s a theory of personality, particularly about relationships. What is the type of person you are in a relationship with specifically? For me, that’s its value in the industry. This is one of my favorite things to lecture about. You stand in front of a group of people in their early twenties and they’ve been trying to date and they haven’t even noticed their patterns yet. They haven’t even been in enough relationships yet to be like, “Do you know how in every relationship we’re always fighting? That might be me.” You’ve got to be in enough relationships to do that.

This is why Amir’s book, Attached, is a good book and a great starter for people. I was thinking about it, like, “Why did I end up doing so much attachment research myself?” One of the big factors for me is that a lot of the research I do, I leave it open to the students to let them choose the path. Students love this stuff. Watch their faces when you see them learning about attachment theory for the first time. That experience that we’ve all had of recognizing things that we’ve been doing our whole life, but we don’t have a map for it. Why people resonate with attachment theory so much is that relationships are important to many people. As soon as you realize that there’s a pattern that you’re acting out, you can start to do something about it. You can maximize the good parts of it and start to do something about these things that are causing you so much grief. There are relatively useful pictures that you can get.

Can you go through the three major categories, secure, avoidant, and anxious?

Let’s start with the secure people.

The good people, we all should be like those people.

The thing is that you jest, but they do have some good outcomes in their lives. On average, these are the people who tend to have the highest levels of life satisfaction. They trust people and feel good about themselves. At least if you’re using the success of relationships, it’s the thing that you want to know what the outcome for. They have satisfying relationships. They have long-lasting relationships. One of the things that they do well is they handle negative emotion well because they are able to sit with it and they feel like, “If a problem gets too big, I’ve got people that I can turn to deal with this.” It’s not just branding. They have a lot of advantages to them.

They’re comfortable with intimacy. They’re warm.

Closeness is something that they enjoy and they’re able to get a lot of pleasure out of it. It’s understandable why they’ve been put on pedestals. The anxious people would be the clingy or needy types in relationships.

Iris dated some of those people.

I know them. They always come to me because I’m avoidant, so they always want to be around me because I’m a challenge. It freaks me out.

They have this clingy or needy style. They have this tricky internal tension. What it comes down to is that they want to be loved. My sense is that it’s not their motivation to be in a relationship. It’s not so much because they love the joy of connecting, but they feel like it’s going to heal them. It’s a way to feel better about themselves at the end of the day.

There’s a narrative, which is love cures all and love conquers all. If you can manage to do this, everything will start to fall into place. You complete me.

This is why you can understand why, for example, there are relatively high levels of conflict in their relationships. When they get into a relationship, they’re expecting that this is going to be the magic elixir and then they continue to feel bad even when their partner is there. The partner is the one who’s supposed to be making them feel better. Who wouldn’t get angry at the person who’s supposed to make you feel better, making you feel worse?

God forbid, that person spends a lot of nights in the lab like Iris and they’re not around.

They’re mostly women, though. I was going to ask you about friendships because these patterns also turn up in friendships. I got this from female friends who then became a little bit clingy.

I haven’t studied friendships very much per se. This whole dynamic should be around wherever the places that you go to get emotional comfort. That’s the person who you’re going to have the most intense feelings about. We study that a lot in terms of romantic relationships because for a lot of people, that’s where they put their chips. That’s where they’re going to go when they’re feeling down and feeling most vulnerable. There’s some work by Alexandra Fisher that came out, for example, that showed that single people start calibrating this stuff to their friendships. Those become the most important relationships to them. Friendships start to push their buttons, start to trigger them because that’s where their expectations for connection and comfort are.

I’m going to return to friendships as we get to some of the critiques if I can. You can see the parallels with regard to anxiousness. The last one is this idea of avoiding.

These are the avoidantly attached people. The story that they’ll tell you is that relationship isn’t that important to them, that they’ve got other things that are the higher priorities in their life, and that they’re not that concerned about closeness. They have this identity built around independence and self-sufficiency. You buy a box at the hardware store that says, “Needs two people to lift.” The avoidant person is going to be the person lifting that by themselves because they don’t want to need anybody else.

Why do I say this is the story they tell themselves?

I don’t want to get too nerdy about this, but this is the big debate in the literature. Where does avoidance come from? Does it come from you wanting this closeness, but you’ve got some defensive mechanism to stop you? Remember when I was talking about the avoidant kids? When mom comes back in the room, some of the data suggests that it’s not that they’re not worked up. If you measure them physiologically, they are worked up. The old attachment theory story would be that they’re hiding that, “If I show mom how upset I am, I’m going to get in trouble.” We’ve got some work in my lab that suggests that maybe it’s not that they’re scared of opening up because they’re afraid that they’re going to get hurt, but maybe they’re genuinely disinterested. It’s hard to distinguish between those two. That’s the trick.

I cite this data a lot and I’m going to do it again. In the United States, the adult singles, half are not interested in dating or relationships at the moment. The top two reasons are they have other things they want to do and there was something else that is a positive one. It’s not that these people can’t make it happen. They have other stuff happening. It’s not a priority for them at this stage. That goes a little bit with this other perspective. There are other important things to do. There are other values that they have.

I want to talk about this as my overarching critique. I want to get your reaction and I want to hear what Iris thinks about this. There is an underlying belief and that is that relationships do solve problems. Having a close intimate relationship is better for you than not is the idea. There are two problems with that and one is the data don’t support that very much. The work by Bella DePaulo, for example, suggests that when you look at married people versus single people, married people are happier. It’s not a marriage effect. It’s rather the opposite. It’s that happy people tend to get married and stay married. Unhappy people are the ones who get divorced.

There’s this idea that’s like, “We’re supposed to be doing this and if you’re not, there’s something wrong with you.” Moreover, there is a certain amount of skepticism that can be healthy because while relationships can be incredibly uplifting, wonderful, growth-oriented, fun, delightful, and great companionship, they also can be abusive. They can be unsettling. They can inhibit growth. Throughout history, we know that they have been associated with oppression, especially of women.

We find that the more egalitarian the world becomes, the more women are opting out of this path. In some ways, I question the premise that this is a good thing. There is a certain amount of cautiousness that should go along with the deep attachment that can happen with regard to a relationship. That’s my first critique. I don’t even like the term avoidant because it’s relative to the idea of attaching. I want a fourth category, which is the securely single category. What is your reaction to that perspective?

I have a lot. First of all, in terms of the premise of, is it better to be in a relationship or not? Here’s maybe where I take a little bit of a heel turn in terms of your audience, but that’s cool. I see the data a little bit differently than Bella does. The broad critique is right that the benefits of relationships have been oversold. My read of the data is still that even when you compare people who’ve never been married, Bella would say that you’re going to get more of the single-at-heart people in that group. The average effect is that there’s still more evidence in my mind that married people are happier than never-married people. Look at divorced people, for example. Divorced people consistently have the worst outcomes.

I’ve said this to Bella on Twitter, “Do you know what the number one predictor of divorce is? It’s getting married.” Divorce does seem to have some stable negative effects on people. At the very least, if you decide to get into a long-term relationship or get married, you’re rolling the dice. You might have some good outcomes and you might have some not-so-good outcomes. The perspective that I’ve tried to take on is you’ve got to think about there’s no one size fits all here. There are some people for whom relationships are genuinely going to make them happier and healthier people.

One of the things that we need to be thinking about is what outcome are we talking about? Are we talking about happiness? That’s important. There are some people in various situations whose main goal for getting married or getting in a relationship is because they don’t have a lot of money, for example, and partnership. We also need to be thinking that maybe happiness isn’t the only reason why a relationship can have benefits for people. Bella and I see it a little bit differently in terms of, is there an advantage to being in a relationship or not? At the least, for sure, if it is an advantage, it’s a lot smaller than people thought. We need to be thinking about different types of people.

With Chris Pepping, when we’ve been doing this attachment stuff, we’ve been looking at these different classes of attachment in singlehood. We’re working on a paper on this. We did find a group of securely attached singles. They’re single and they have good life outcomes. They’re happy with their life, not depressed, and all that kind of stuff. It is going to be important to distinguish between secure singles and avoidant singles.

In our data, what we get with the avoidant singles, my read of their data is they’re saying, “I’m not unhappy being single, but I am less happy with my life overall.” I don’t think that we should leave the avoidant people be and say, “You’re happy being single, so everything is fine.” There’s something going on with avoidant people, but it’s not dissatisfaction with being single. Where they differ from the secure singles is that the secure singles will tell you, “I’m happy being single. Overall, my life is fine.” It’s important to distinguish between the two.

Bartholomew and Horowitz have this relationship questionnaire, which adds the category that we want.

They had the category that we don’t want, which is the fearful category. Those are the people who are anxious and avoidant at the same time.

They have an item, which is, “I’m comfortable without close emotional relationships. It’s important for me to feel independent and self-sufficient. I’d prefer not to depend on others and have others depend on me.” That’s the avoidant one. There’s not a great way to have this secure single one measured yet.

What we’ve done so far is we give the regular attachment scale to single people, and we see what secure single people like are. They seem to be fine. To be honest, for me and both my personal and professional philosophy on all of this, we need to deprioritize the question of are you in a relationship or not? What we need to prioritize is, are you taking care of yourself? For my money, the people who do well single, in many ways, are the same people who do well in relationships because they regulate their emotions well or they’re conscientious and so they can take care of themselves.

That’s what we’ve talked about with Kinneret as well. Can you parent yourself? Can you take care of yourself properly? It is maybe a more important question. There are two things that stood out to me and one is that we talk about close relationships, but what you mean is close romantic relationships and it’s only one kind of relationship. Of course, the focus on that is it often sold a little bit as the most relevant evolutionary relationship and it is.

We also know that other types of relationships, for instance, with grandparents, mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends are also important. Broadening it a little bit, can people have healthy relationships or not? Instead of focusing only on, can people maintain this particular romantic relationship style that we all value and want to have? It’s formalized in marriage versus other stages in society. I don’t think that’s helpful in understanding it. You also alluded to people’s well-being.

What they say about vegetarians, people are vegetarian but usually not all of the time all of their lives. That’s the same with relationships. Single people are probably not single all their lives. There are a few people who are single all their life, who are never in a relationship. We can’t categorize them permanently, only temporarily, I would suggest. That’s a little bit difficult to talk about yourself, which is why attachment theory is now taking off and also popular because it’s an easy way to convey to somebody, “This is what I’m like,” without having to put your soul under the table. It’s like, “By the way, I’m avoidant, just so you know.” It’s like this lightheartedness. If it’s only focused on romantic relationships, sometimes you’re in them and sometimes you’re not. It’s probably true for most people.

There’s this thing about what gets measured, gets managed. I like this idea of, are you good at life? If you’re good at life, now you’re likely to have more stable relationships. I often think that the arrow is headed in the other direction. Rather than those people who have the false narrative of, “You complete me. You’re going to solve all of my problems.” Instead, you’re like, “I’ve got my problem solved. I’m a better partner.” It’s already hard enough to parent yourself and then you have to parent your partner on top of it. All the downstream negative effects of that, who wants to have sex with the person you’re parenting? I want to echo that point.

The other one is people are often single on the other side of relationships. One group that says that they’re not interested in dating or relationships at the moment tends to be older women. These are women who already had a marriage. They’re like, “I don’t want to have to deal with that again. I have other things that I want to do with my life.” They often have rich friendships and connections with children, family, community, church, and so on. I don’t know how to classify those people because they’re not even seeking that relationship. They would probably fall into an avoidant or secure single. A lot of people would say, “That’s too bad.” I don’t see anything about their lives that’s too bad.

It’s going to vary from person to person. Lots of people find themselves in that situation and they’re perfectly content and some people struggle with that. One thing that the pandemic has made me think a lot about is that even if you’re single, it doesn’t mean that relationships aren’t important to you. That’s what you’re saying, Iris, even if it’s a romantic relationship, that you’re not putting all of your chips on. We finished one study in my lab where we’re trying to figure out what’s the big priority for people when they are thinking about what their ideal single life be. The first thing that they said before dating or sex was family. There are all kinds of other relationships that people can tap into. Some single people got a bit of a rude awakening during the pandemic. People build these relationship infrastructures in their life and that got disrupted for a lot of people. Mind you, a lot of people in relationships got too much of their partner and that’s another issue on the other side.

They’re like, “I understand what it means to be a parent now because I have to do it all the time.”

“I should have done it better so far.”

The broad point for me is that we have been in a particular time in the recent past where a lot of relationships have been available to people. Sometimes, I do think, “Why is it that romantic relationships have been put on such a pedestal?” From my perspective, I assume that there are good historical reasons for that. A hundred years ago, you didn’t have meetup groups to get together with regularly. It would have been harder. The idea here is that single people want relationships but want relationships that are relatively easily accessible. I assume. I’m not a historian; I’m telling a total just-so story here.

I want to push back on that. That’s the story that we find. First of all, this is a relatively new invention, the love marriage. Maybe it is superior to an arranged marriage, which preceded it. It’s hard to take gender out of this in the sense of the history of marriage is incredibly oppressive to women. Women were owned by their husbands for much of the history of marriage. As much as we enjoy a Jane Austen novel, I want to say, “Hmm.” Also, throughout all of human history, marriage is a relatively new invention. Also, we know the rates of infidelity. People sought out other types of relationships, perhaps for intimacy, good sex, support, or whatever it is. I’m a little bit cautious about the premise of all of this stuff, which is there is this one type of relationship.

Geoff, what you said about the pandemic, what stood out to me most is that you start to see which people can take care of themselves and which people cannot. They rely a lot on external structures but also the satisfaction that they get from being at their job, in their jacket, in their role, and with their status. Now they’re on the kitchen table constantly. This was interesting for me to see how people coped with being by themselves.

I haven’t been too focused on the pandemic. People are like, “It’s going to change everything.” It was illegal to go on a date in San Francisco during the pandemic. You were forced into isolation as a single person because you were not allowed to spend time with someone who wasn’t a family member or part of your household. We have this view of single people as being alone a lot, but that’s not necessarily the case. We know from the literature that single people are more connected, have more friends, and are more involved in the community. That had this isolating effect. I push back on the notion that if you had a family, it would be okay. The solution isn’t to have a family. The solution is to have a more progressive way to deal with not having people be isolated, locking them down in that sense.

This is going to be true for people in relationships and people who are single. My sense was that it was something that was sometimes more acutely felt by single people. There is a greater level of social dependence that we all have as individuals. In some ways, it was masked by things like the economic system. You could hire somebody to come in and clean your house as one example. There’s an option that’s taken away from you. You have a sense of independence because you can do all of these things. When those levels of connections with other people were broken and you find yourself having to take care of yourself in an even more intense way, it made clear that all of us are dependent on each other. We don’t always think about that. That might have been something that had been made more salient.

We’ll also see what happens to divorces also. The issue is probably it’s a magnifier. If you have challenges, they become magnified whether you’re in a relationship or not in a relationship. The overarching idea here is that there’s no one path or one place developmentally that is the case. I want to return to a couple of the critiques of this before we get into some more of your research. You told the story about children and adults. The theory connects the two. You learn a style as a child and it then persists into adulthood. I don’t want to say naive, but I’m suspicious of that.

In my estimation, you should be. Somebody said, “Why is it whenever you encounter a psychological theory of anything, it starts with the premise that this started in childhood?” This person’s point was, “Freud got there first.” We’ve all been correcting from Freud the whole time. It’s like, “An evolutionary psychologist or someone from a different perspective or a geneticist had gotten there first.” That’s what we would be moving away from. Bowlby was a psychoanalyst. That was going to be where he was going to start from. His founding assumption was going to be that this came from childhood.

It’s hard to test this idea. The data that you need is you need to get kids in their childhood and you need to look at how they interact with their caregivers. You then need to come back to them 20, 30, 40 years later and then get an assessment of how similar they are in terms of their security or their insecurity from childhood to adulthood. When you think about it, people only started paying attention to this stuff in adults in the mid-‘80s. Even if you start that research in 1985, your first data set isn’t going to be ripe until 2005. There’s not a lot of good data on this issue of how much this is a childhood thing. Chris Fraley is the guy who has done the absolute best work on this stuff. There is consistency between how your parents treat you and the security that you have as an adult, but it’s a lot smaller than you would think it is. In statistical terms, it’s a correlation of .15, which is not nothing.

To get anything that’s consistent over a 20 or 25-year period, that’s impressive. If you’re hardcore, like, “The way that my mom treated me is one to one.” The way that I am as an adult, you’re not going to expect it to be that small. There’s a little bit of evidence that if your parents treat you sensitively, you’re more likely to grow up to be secure. Even that doesn’t prove that your parents treating you sensitively caused you to be secure. It could be that you’ve got a parent who’s low in neuroticism and they’re an emotionally stable person. You inherit their emotionally stable genes and then you grow up to be emotionally stable. I wouldn’t say that the evidence for the childhood part of it is super strong.

When I started doing attachment research, I was zealous about it. I was that guy who you put the map in front of me and it’s like, “I see the way, the truth and the life, finally.” I remember somebody early on said that there are good feminist critiques of attachment theory. The argument was what you’re doing is taking people’s problems and unfairly blaming mothers for them. I remember I was deep in this stuff at the time that I was dismissive of that, but it makes a ton of sense. There’s been tons of blame that have been heaped on parents and mothers in particular without a lot of solid data that’s where these attachment styles come from. There’s not no influence of childhood, but it’s a lot less than people think it is in my business. That’s my sense of it.

It’s much less is the way I think about it. To me, there’s also a more proximal thing. I’ve talked about this from my personal experience and I’m curious what you think, Iris. My parents had a terrible relationship. They should never have married. They weren’t good at it and they weren’t good after it. Thankfully, they did produce my sister and me, so I’m not going to hold it against them too much. There was never a model of a loving, close, and intimate relationship for me. I never saw that even as the solution in that sense.

I’m sure that has led, at least in part, to my comfort and desire for single living or the fact that I see a close, intimate relationship as optional for me. I’m not against it. That’s why I don’t like that idea of avoidant. I also don’t think that it’s in any way necessary. I don’t see it as a better path. I see it as a different path. Is there evidence for that? That’s the connection to childhood that might be interesting.

I haven’t seen any evidence directly on point with that. I talked to people about this stuff a lot. I’ve heard that narrative and I’ve heard exactly the opposite narrative. I saw that my parents had a difficult time and that’s when I vowed to have a relationship that was exactly the opposite of that.

You’re going to work that much harder.

For me, we have our goals and motivations and then we tell stories that support that those are the right goals and motivations to have.

That’s maybe also how and why it’s attractive. This attachment theory, people love it. They see something that they do and they realize, “There’s a name for that. There’s a label for that.” There are other people who also do that and some people might resign themselves in that, “I’m sorry. I’m avoidant. Deal with it.” Maybe one way to have this childhood influence in there is it depends a little bit on what values you develop as a child.

As with you, Peter, I developed a strong need for autonomy. That was always there. That’s one reason why my parents weren’t together because they both also had a strong need for autonomy. I also developed this later in life. I don’t have such a strong goal in a relationship but rather in things that satisfy this autonomy desire and value. Relationships are difficult to maintain if you don’t have somebody who can appreciate the same types of values. Somebody with strong autonomy needs to find somebody who also has this strong autonomy needs to get along and be interested enough.

Let’s wrap up the attachment stuff. My last critique of it is I lament the fact that there is not a positive term for people who are not pursuing a close intimate relationship. It’s not that they’re avoiding it. It’s just that they’re secure in their singlehood. To me, the issue is there’s a pinnacle in which everything is being evaluated relative to that versus a security dimension that falls along with a relationship and non-relationship continuum.

That’s one of those things that we might be watching change in real-time. One problem that those of us in psychology have is that we think that we’re studying unchanging eternal aspects of the human condition. What we’re doing in sociology studies is we do a study at one point in time and we’re not paying attention to the fact that it’s embedded in a particular social context. Alexandra Fisher has done some stuff on this, too. Compared to other identities that you can have, the average person doesn’t have it as a particularly strong identity. I suspect that’s something that’s changing.

Stuff like this show is bringing people together around an identity of singlehood. As communities develop like that, those terms and labels just inevitably come out of that as a way to make sense of the way that people like your community are thinking about this stuff. That’s coming, but that’s a product of where we’ve been as a society so far. We’re sitting here watching the change. We’re participating in the change.

We’re making the change, Geoff.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

I talked about this as a movement. That’s right. Let’s talk a little bit about your work because you have done some work on these different forms of attachment. You also look at what you call long-term singlehood. You look at it in a way that is having an adaptive set of behaviors associated with it. Can you talk a little bit about your work in this way?

Sure. I feel like people talk about single people as if there’s one type of single person. I’m interested in individual differences. Different strokes for different folks, as it were. I was interested in what are some of the different types of single people out there. This is one of the reasons that this started with attachment theory. If the question is, “What are different types of people,” attachment theory is one way of thinking about, “Here’s one way to categorize different types of people.” In general, what we’ve been interested in is if the single life is for some people and not for other people, what can data tell us about who single life is for and who it’s not for?

In what my field has been doing, we’ve been thinking a lot about where single people get social support. How good is your relationship with your friends? How good is your relationship with your family? It’s that kind of thing. That’s a little bit Victorian. What about sexual needs? Sexual needs are important to people, but there wasn’t a whole lot of literature around what’s the importance of people satisfying their sexual needs?

One way that you make marriage an appealing institution is as follows. You can only have sex if you’re married. What ends up happening is you go, “I want to have sex.” You’re like, “This is the way to do it.” Thank you. What I’m saying is, you read Jane Austen. I pick on Jane Austen a lot. You’re like, “This romantic fulfilling banter field thing.” Some people are like, “I am horny and I have no other way to satisfy this, so here’s how we go. Here’s how it happens.” I’ll stop there. Recognizing the multiple motivations by which someone might couple up. We’ve already acknowledged one earlier. I can’t pay the bills, so there are many ways that people either reason they pursue partnership and reasons why they pursue singlehood. I’m sorry to go on a rant, but it’s a great observation.

That’s a more passionate way than the way I was going to put it. I don’t know how much it’s been structured in that way to meet particular goals. There was a study by Amanda Castleman a couple of years ago, and it was asking single people what they thought the life of people in relationships was like and what people in relationships thought the life of single people was like. According to that study, people in relationships think that single people are having this wild sexual time when the data are consistent with what you’re saying. The majority of sexual activity is happening in the context of committed relationships. It makes sense that one of the reasons why single people might be motivated to get into a relationship is exactly what you’re saying. That’s where the more consistent sexual opportunities are. That was the thing in the study that I did with my amazing grad student, Yoobin Park, that I found interesting.

When people were happy with their friendships, that was related to being happier with being a single person but it wasn’t related to whether you want it to get into a relationship or not. In our data, it was the single people who are happy with their sex lives who said, “I’m happy being single and I’m less interested in getting into a relationship.”

That’s the first time I ever heard that.

That’s because I made it up.

I’m going to put that on my dating profile, “Looking to add people to my sexual infrastructure.”

My royalty rates are reasonable. You can afford to do that comfortably.

I’m not sure you want it cited, “MacDonald, 2021,” after that phrase.

If that’s the only thing on my Wikipedia page when I die, I can live with that. If you’ve got a way to satisfy your sexual needs outside of a romantic relationship, it seems to take the edge off of wanting to be in a relationship. It’s exactly in line with what you’re saying. Sexual people go where sexual opportunities are. A lot of our data we collected during the pandemic, and I’m not sure how much this is going to be the case when the pandemic wears off. In our data, 70% of single people were not having sex at all. There was a lot more sex going on and relationships. The attraction in that sense is understandable. Mind you, I will say the one asterisk I’ll put up next to that is that we had a little bit of data in that study suggesting that the single people who were having the most sex said were least interested in having a relationship but were the most likely to end up getting into committed relationships.

Sex is a gateway to love. I call it the genital heart connection.

I would have a more parsimonious explanation. If they are meeting people to have sex with, they’re probably meeting more people. That’s more likely that they meet.

The thing is you start having sex with someone, you start spending time with that person, then you end up liking that person. Instead of the opposite, which is you like them and you get to have sex with them later, in a sense. I have a friend, and she’s like, “I have sex with the man as quickly as possible if I like him. I want to figure out is the sex any good. Why spend all this time figuring out whether we like each other or not and then find out he’s terrible in bed?”

There are a lot of things to get wrapped up. What you’re describing, Geoff, is we have these assumptions. They tell a story and also, there are a lot of judgments around things like casual sex. That, for example, is seen as a bad thing. I don’t know how much you’re familiar with this term that we use on the show a lot from Amy Gahran about the relationship escalator. Any time there is some deviation from one of the hallmarks of the mainstream relationship escalator, people see it as wrong, weird, and strange. Each of those hallmarks serves a particular purpose, whether it be sociologically, culturally and so on. One of those things, for example, is monogamy. Monogamy is good and now monogamy is bad. Why is monogamy so good? It helps to know that child is my child and it helps because it tries to crowd out other people who might threaten the relationship.

In a sense, the point that I’m making from this sexuality point of view is that they are also convenient. You don’t have to go that far. You don’t have to work that hard.

You no longer have to buy dinner. I’m being cheeky, but you know what I’m saying. You’re already in the same bed. I’m getting a little punchy already. What other things have you found? First of all, I want to commend you for saying, “Let’s look at other things that predict happy singlehood.” Even starting with the premise that singlehood, for some people, is seen as a good and positive opportunity, and so on. What else is there?

We haven’t been doing this for too long, so in terms of what have we published? The sexuality stuff is most of what we’ve been publishing. One of the big questions that we’re thinking about singlehood researchers is what makes somebody want to choose to be single? Both in informal discussions, when you look through the literature, that’s the assumption. It’s all about, is singlehood a choice for you or not. If you’re choosing it, you’re probably going to be a happier single person than if you’re not choosing it.

We’ve also taken a definitely a bit of a cue from Bella in all of this and thinking about what’s making people choose to be in relationships. Relationship researchers are such romantic people that, as a group, we tend to feel life is a bit of a Disney movie. The reason that people are going for relationships is we have this deep evolved need to belong, and it feels so good. That’s part of the reason why some people get into relationships, but one of the things that discourse around singlehood has made clear is that there’s a lot of societal pressure and family pressure to get in relationships. We’re starting to look at if you are single, what’s your motivation, both for being single and for staying in relationships?

That’s a work in progress. I don’t have a lot of results, but to me, that’s the big question at this point. What makes somebody choose to be single? What are the factors that play into that? That’s going to be important in figuring out. Bella’s point about the single-at-heart people, there are lots of those people out there and we want to understand the motivations of those people. We’re doing wonky, nerdy stuff to try to sort that out, but the findings are uncooked at this point, so we’re working on it.

Geoff, I was also thinking about the other side of this coin. We talked a lot about people being motivated to get into relationships, find relationships, and seek out relationships. We talked about this, Peter, over email. I’m interested in whether you think single people also differ to the degree that they stay in relationships. When you think about why people stay in relationships, I’m thinking about this commitment model that came from this question. I worked with Caryl Rusbult when I was a graduate student and she told us the story that she was on a road trip and her friend asked her, “You study relationships. Why do people stay in relationships?” This was basically the basis of a big chunk of her research. People stay in relationships not because they’re satisfied, but also because they have money and time invested or because they don’t have alternatives.

Peter, we were talking and especially if single people are well connected and maybe they are economically independent, especially for women is more and more important. If it’s not fun, you’re going to leave because it’s going to be about satisfaction or not. I was wondering if we consider that single people are not single their whole life, but they might have been in relationships and decided to leave them. Do they differ in how they commit themselves?

Geoff, before you answer that, we all know this model, but other people don’t, so I want to try to hit the highlights of it if I can. Rusbult essentially said, at the time, the common thinking was, if you’re happy with your relationship, you stay in it. If you’re unhappy, you leave it. Her contribution was, “No. There’s also this idea of what else might I do? What are the other relationships that I might enter? What do they look like? Are they good or bad? Are there opportunities? How much have I invested in this thing? How much time have I spent? How much of our lives come together? What do I have to give up as a result of that?”

We’ve got to sell the house. There’s all this thing. It’s why for example, the merging element of the relationship escalator ends up keeping people together. We now share bank accounts and a whole group of friends. Who gets the dog? I’ve had people who have to fight over who gets the dog when the relationship ends and so on. Her real contribution is this idea that it’s much more complex than, “Are you happy or not happy?”

The reason that this was so important is because people couldn’t understand. One example is battered women. Why do battered women stay in relationships that are abusive and can’t by no means be satisfying to them? She added these elements, these other factors that predicted the level of commitment which predicted relationship.

The last thing, I’ve told the story before and I’ll tell it again. I have an ex whose mom is mean to her daughter, sadly. When the mom met me, she said to the daughter, “He doesn’t need you.” Her view was that I’m going to be hard to keep around because it’s not enough for her daughter, my girlfriend, to be so delightful and such a wonderful human being. There needs to be something else that’s going to keep this man around, like, I can’t cook for myself or whatever it is that’s there. That is implicit a little bit in this model.

Iris, I didn’t realize you had worked with Caryl Rusbult. I’ve made a vow not to have heroes, but if I had heroes, Caryl would be one of them. She was an unbelievably amazing person. She was fun to be around. She was fantastic.

She kept a bottle of tequila in the drawer.

She took me and some people on a tour of Amsterdam coffee shops and it was a fun day. Relationships are sticky. For sure, that was one of Caryl’s contributions for investment reasons, relationships are sticky. Once you get in them, they can be. If you want to get out of them, it can still be hard to do. The relationship escalator points to that. I’m with my former student, Samantha Joel. We’re writing a paper on what she’s called The Progression Bias, which is that people tend to get swept up into relationships.

It occurs to me that maybe this is one of the benefits of society opening its mind a little bit. Maybe people aren’t supposed to be in relationships. If the default societal expectation is that you get in them, the thing that I keep thinking about is when I teach about sexuality in my class. A lot of people who are now in same-sex relationships have tried sex with people of the other sex. The reverse is much less often true than when the societal expectation is you’re supposed to be having sex with people of the other sex.

People tried that first because that’s what they’re supposed to be doing. It strikes me that there’s something analogous. Even if you are a person who’s single at heart, when the societal norm is like, “I’m supposed to be dating, so that’s what I’m going to be doing,” and you pair that with this investment model perspective of, “But it’s sticky,” it’s hard to get out of those. People who aren’t supposed to be in relationships, it’s not hard to imagine them finding themselves in the situation where 15 to 20 years down the road, they’re like, “This isn’t what I was supposed to do.” It’s so hard to extricate yourself because you’ve got to sell the house. You’ve got two kids with this person now and all of these different factors.

Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they’re getting divorced. Think about that. How difficult that must be to extricate yourself from that partnership? One that is not loving, but is also business. It has implications for whether people live and die with regard to this foundation and so on.

No prenup, I heard.

There always is a prenup. It’s whether the government has created it for you or you’ve created it for yourself. I’m quoting a previous guest on that. Anything else about the Rusbult model in terms of this idea of singlehood? I’m curious, either, Iris, were you bringing that up or Jeff, your observations with regard to the work?

The other thing that occurs to me about it is one of the things that I like about this investment model is that it’s broadly applicable. It was for something that was done in-work context. It’s like, “Why do you get stuck in jobs that you don’t want?” It’s not always because you’re happy with the job. It’s for the exact same things. It is. For people reading this, it’s a useful broad tool. The thing is, you could apply it to singlehood, too. You make investments in singlehood.

You can start a podcast on the topic.

Imagine, if all of a sudden, you got into a monogamous relationship. It’s not good for your brand is what I’m saying. It is a useful theory that way. There are things even if you love singlehood, there are also ways in which you’re committed to it in various ways. Things like friendship networks. It’s the alternatives part of it, that all of the debate is around. Society says that you’re supposed to think that you have better alternatives to being single. That’s what’s up for grabs. Some people don’t have better alternatives being single because they love it.

Some people can’t find someone.

I was thinking about reading your paper. We talked about single by choice but that single by choice or single not by choice, but for some people, it’s not a choice.

I call it single by chance, by the way.

Some people are uncoupleable. There are people who can’t connect, who have something which makes them difficult to pair off with somebody. It’s a difficult group to study.

There are people who are so miserable. They’re miserable people and if they coupled up, they were going to make someone else incredibly miserable. We call it heterogeneity. It’s not clear that person is better off.

Certainly, the person next to them is not better off at the very least. When I talk about Bella and I coming from slightly different starting points on this, this is where attachment theory has informed my approach to studying singlehood. As much as I totally agree with a lot of what we’ve been talking about, it’s important to remember that there are lots of people who want to be single. I’m always mindful that there are lots of people who don’t want to be single. That’s the part that they struggle with and because they have emotional problems, they’re not attractive in various ways or whatever situation that we’re in. That’s a constituency that I always like to make sure that I’m keeping an eye on. There are lots of people who want to be in relationships and that’s not available to them in various ways. Those are single people, too and I want to make sure that my research pays attention to those people as well.

The issue is we don’t teach people the skills. Some of this stuff, there are some basics of how you make yourself, more A) attractive and more appealing. B) How do you go about the actual process of meeting people and improving that and how do you go about maintaining something once you have that’s there. These things are not always intuitive. Sometimes people want it, then they don’t want it, then they want it. They turn it on and off depending on what their situation is like and what they have going on with regard to their work, their artistic pursuits, the pandemic, etc., that’s there.

As we wrap up, what I’d like to do is a tiny extension of a little bit of what I would call editorializing. We’ve talked a lot about findings and some of the implications. I want to ask each of us to do a takeaway observation, either from this conversation or from the work more generally, that might be useful for a reader specifically. I’m willing to start, but I also would want to see if there’s a volunteer between the two of you who wants to begin with the takeaway. I’ll start then. This is building on what you said, Geoff, and this is not a show that is anti-relationship in any way. It is one that tries to get people to see their time on this planet as single people, which by the way, is a lot of time, as not in any way inferior to time on this planet in a partnership.

Whether that be that you are in pursuit of a partnership and going to change your status or you’re not and again, whether that be for now or forever that people recognize the advantages that exist within that. We’ve used this term story and the stories that we tell ourselves can shape not only our happiness or satisfaction with being single people but also can shape the way we approach relationships. The most intoxicating thing that a person can have is to be confident and to be comfortable with who they are.

Desperation is a terrible scent to have when you’re dating because what it does is it takes someone who may be interested in dating you and it introduces a question, which is, “Why is this person interested in me? If they’re interested in me because they need me to solve their problems, that’s not as pure an intention. They want me because I am a potentially good partner.” I don’t see much conflict in what we’re doing here because if we elevate single living, we elevate the chance for someone to partner in a way that is more healthy. It’s not an, “I’m going to solve a problem,” approach to relationships. That’s my bit of editorializing. Now, I need a real volunteer.

I’ll hop in there because that dovetails well with what is my general takeaway message from all of this. It goes back to what I’d said about the people who do best at being in relationships are the people who do best at being single. The interesting thing to me in relationship literature is there’s a whole bunch of data that’s coming back that seems to be showing that a lot more of your happiness and relationships isn’t about picking the right person, but it’s about being the right person. It’s about being someone who can be calm, emotionally stable, and as happy as possible for you.

There’s no quick fix for becoming that person. Secure people got randomly assigned to that. Congratulations. I hope that you’re enjoying it. For a lot of people, it’s a struggle to get to that place. There’s no quick fix. There’s no app that’s going to make you feel better this way tomorrow. There’s no relationship that’s going to take all of that and completely convert it to becoming the person who is a healthy person alone as and is a healthy person in a relationship. It’s like anything else. Would you expect to develop 26-inch biceps by going to the gym for one day? You would not.

If you want to be that person, you need to make long, slow investments in it. When you do that, you start deprioritizing the question of, “Am I single or am I in a relationship?” You start listening to what makes you happy and you follow whatever that path is and that might be being single or that might be being in a relationship. Hopefully, you get to a place where you’re content with or without basically. That is what I would say to my relationship class students, “Don’t focus on finding the right person. Focus on becoming the right person and that’ll help you no matter what you do.”

That’s such a beautiful phrase. I heard this at a wedding a few years ago. The father of the bride said, “To find the right person, you have to be the right person.” He was referring to his daughter as being the right person but also the husband, of course.

That guy, the prop in the wedding.

“My daughter’s accessory,” but they were both the right person. Geoff, you said that people take care of themselves ultimately, you can talk about categorizing people in terms of how they deal with their relationships. It’s basically more about being healthy or unhealthy and unhappy or unhappy with yourself and with your life. What is great about this show and what Peter is doing is saying, “This is not a waiting station. This is not a bus station where you sit until the next person. This is part of your life where you can work on discovering your values, living the life that you think is important and is remarkable and somebody will come along or not. It doesn’t matter so much.”

It’s not a bus station. A bus station sucks. It’s more of an airport lounge where it’s already great to be hanging out there.

I don’t know how you travel, but I need to upgrade my air travel.

You should. It’s worth the price of admission, typically. Iris, that’s super well said. Geoff, thank you for bearing with us in terms of holding back some of your nerdiness so we can celebrate our single readers. The work you’re doing is outstanding and important. I like your perspective that you are studying a moving target. In many ways, the research you’re doing is moving the target. It’s this idea that it’s pointing out that single life is, first of all, complex. There are lots of different people who are doing it. They’re doing it in different ways. They have different motivations and experiences. To validate those experiences by not overly judging them as being deficient is important, especially as your work finds its way into the real world, whether it be through podcasts and media and so on. I want to say thank you for that.

I appreciate that.

Iris, I love having you as a guest co-host because, as a fellow nerd, you read the papers and even know some of the people that we talk about. It’s cool that you know Rusbult. I appreciate having you on this show.

Thank you.

With that, we’re going to wrap up. As always, I like to say, “Cheers.”


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About Geoff MacDonald

SOLO 90 | Attachment TheoryGeoff MacDonald is a social psychologist and relationship scientist whose research examines attachment, intimacy, sexuality, and singlehood. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Waterloo and is now a Full Professor at the University of Toronto.




About Iris Schneider

Iris Schneider is a behavioral scientist from the Netherlands. After obtaining her Ph.D. in psychology, she lived and worked in the US before starting her academic position at the Social and Economic Cognition Research Group at the University of Cologne in Germany.


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