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A key aspect of attachment functioning is the secure base, which empowers people to explore their environments, though some individuals do this more effectively than others. While most researchers have focused on adult attachment dynamics in terms of stress and threat (safe haven), we argue that concerted attention should also focus on relational processes in times of optimal functioning. In this paper, we introduce a new theoretical concept: secure base sexual exploration (or sexploration). We define this as the degree to which individuals are able to effectively explore multifaceted dimensions of sexuality (e.g., behaviors, identity) as a function of secure attachment dynamics. Put another way, we posit that interpersonal attachment security, which is a function of individual and dyadic factors, may meaningfully predict the degree to which individuals are comfortable with sexual exploration. In the first section of our paper, we outline core tenets of attachment theory, followed by an explanation of the secure base construct. We then explain how the secure base construct can be useful in conceptualizing individual differences in sexploration, followed by domain-specific sexual outcomes (e.g., behavior, identity) that may stem from sexploration. Embedded in this discussion is a new approach for researchers to examine these links.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Personality and Individual Differences. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Personality and Individual Differences, volume 147, in date. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2019.04.049

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