But these forces do not operate in some either/or fashion.
Humans have evolved as cultural animals, born to be shaped and to learn from our cultural heritage.
My mentor Professor Garth Fletcher has a new book out, co-written with three of the other smartest minds in relationships research.
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Second, attachment styles are relatively stable, but are also exquisitely sensitive to relationship experiences.
As a child or as an adult, relationship experiences (good or bad) can slowly shift people from secure to insecure attachment styles, and vice versa.
I am constantly struck by the high proportion of marriages that go the course in modern, western settings, given the relatively recent introduction of no-fault legislation, the more relaxed norms concerning divorce, and the increasing economic independence of women. Alice: Attachment theory and ideas developed by John Bowlby have had a huge impact on relationship therapy and our understanding of romantic relationships.
The powerful roles of culture and the interpersonal context also need to be taken into account.
Conversely, the equally popular good management model posits that regularly expressing your negative feelings and thoughts has corrosive effects on the relationship and you should perhaps stifle your negative feelings and learn to live with the problem, or drop some diplomatic hints.
After a lot of research, the general answer emerging – too messy and complex to sell many self-help books – is that the worst thing to do is to adopt one approach as an automatic default option.
Thus, it is hardly surprising that there is a tight connection between human nature and human mating and family life.
There is considerable evidence, for example, that romantic love between adults is an evolved device for producing the kind of powerful commitment required for parents to stay together for many years, thus facilitating the enormous investment required for the care, provisioning, teaching, and protection of offspring across the relatively stretched childhood and adolescence of modern humans.