In this groundbreaking book, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Amir Levine and psychologist Rachel S. F. Heller reveal how an understanding of attachment theory-the most advanced relationship science in existence today-can help us find and sustain love. Attachment theory forms the basis for many bestselling books on the parent/child relationship, but there has yet to be an accessible guide to what this fascinating science has to tell us about adult romantic relationships-until now.
Attachment theory owes its inception to British psychologist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby, who in the 1950s examined the tremendous impact that our early relationships with our parents or caregivers has on the people we become. Also central to attachment theory is the discovery that our need to be in a close relationship with one or more individuals is embedded in our genes.
In Attached, Levine and Heller trace how these evolutionary influences continue to shape who we are in our relationships today. According to attachment theory, every person behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways:
*ANXIOUS people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner's ability to love them back. *AVOIDANT people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness. *SECURE people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.
Attached guides readers in determining what attachment style they and their mate (or potential mates) follow. It also offers readers a wealth of advice on how to navigate their relationships more wisely given their attachment style and that of their partner. An insightful look at the science behind love, Attached offers readers a road map for building stronger, more fulfilling connections.
Dr Amir Levine, MD, is an adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist and neuroscientist. He has been conducting neuroscience research at Columbia University, New York, for several years under the mentorship of Nobel Prize laureate Eric Kandel.
I'm convinced that all the 5 star reviews must be from anxiously attached people because this book offers nothing for anyone else lol. I knew something was up when the chapter dedicated to explaining anxious attachment was twice as long as the chapter dedicated to avoidant attachment. The glorification of anxious types only increased from there. The whole book is really filtered through an anxious lens.
The little bit I learned about the importance of having a secure base and deactivation techniques and protest behavior was overshadowed by the negative way they portrayed people like me. Another reviewer mentioned subconscious bias and I have to agree. The authors are very sympathetic towards anxious types who are portrayed as victims throughout the whole book while avoidant types are portrayed as cold, selfish, and abusive. Secure types are put on a pedestal and declared naturally good at relationships. All readers are encouraged to stay FAR away from avoidant types which, as you can imagine, made me feel great as someone with an avoidant attachment style who only bought this book to learn more about avoidant attachment styles.
It's interesting how the authors' bias limits this book. There are actually two avoidant types: dismissive and fearful. This book doesn't acknowledge either one. They're simply lumped together and that's that. Disorganized types (anxious & avoidant!) are mentioned like, once, and never revisited again. If their intent was to introduce all the attachment styles to a mainstream audience and explain how it can foster or inhibit loving relationships, they failed miserably.
All of the stories/illustrations of couples are anxious/avoidant and the anxious person is good and the avoidant person is bad. When a secure person appears, they are good too and the anxious person is just misunderstood or behaving poorly - never a bad person. I happen to be an avoidant type dating an avoidant type, but the book swiftly dismissed and denied the existence of two avoidant people in a relationship. We're even at one point viewed by the authors as a scourge on the dating scene, making it harder for anxious people to find love. It's almost as if they can't imagine anything beyond anxious = good, avoidant = bad.
A relationship with an avoidant type is seen by the authors as being inherently toxic because "avoidants" - as they refer to them in the book multiple times, funny how their isn't a similar pejorative for anxious types - do not want intimacy. This is not true, but this book doesn't even see avoidant types as worthy of understanding so I wasn't shocked that they would oversimplify in this way. There's actually A LOT of oversimplifying and generalizing that only serves anxious types.
In all the stories the anxious one is usually a woman and the avoidant one is usually a man, even though they say attachment styles know no gender (eye roll). There was one gay couple I can remember, the rest are all hetero. No mention of race or class. There's one particularly long story about an anxious woman who dates and marries an abusive man, who is avoidant OF COURSE, and it serves as one giant cautionary tale for why anxious types are sympathetic angels and why "avoidants" are toxic to the bone. Again, a clear bias from the authors and not nearly enough research to back-up all the claims they make.
My conclusion is that "Attached" is one big contradictory mess. Anxious types are told over and over that there is nothing wrong with them being co-dependent because that's just their natural need for intimacy and no one should shame them for that. HOWEVER, the authors don't acknowledge (or rather, they don't believe) that avoidant types emotional needs are just as valid or worthy of respect. Secure types are just wonderful from the jump, so there's no specific focus on them either.
They make no effort to understand why avoidant types are the way they are. There's little sympathy for what an avoidant type wants and needs in a relationship. Avoidant types are actually encouraged to change where anxious types are told to don't settle for a partner that wants you to change. THEN both types are told that a secure type will make them better and that they should actively search for that person who will help transform them into a secure type. Cause it's your partner's job to make you secure. It's ridiculous.
The authors cannot fathom that most people don't fit into these neat little boxes. Any relationship type that didn't align with the sparse amounts of research they referenced in this book was ignored or invalidated. It's actually alarming that these two people who seem to only communicate effectively about anxious and secure partnerships decided to write a book about ALL the attachment styles for mainstream audiences. Fail, fail, fail, fail.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I read this. Not because it wasn't good, but because I have this thing about posting relationship-y self-help books on here. I don't want people to know that I spend time thinking about my relationship status. I want to seem cooler than that.
This book is better than most relationship books I have read. The author describes how attachment theory can be applied to romantic relationships. There are three types of attachment: secure, anxious, and avoidant. According to the authors, 50% of the population is securely attached, 25% is anxious, and 25% avoidant. Luckily for me, I am anxious. Which is so much fun. They don't make you feel any shame for the category you fall into. Rather, they help you understand yourself and guide you in the direction you would like to go.
I liked this book because I felt like it really helped me understand why a lot of the relationships I have stop working the way I want them to. The book provides a lot of examples and checklists and inventories so that you can figure out what's going on in your relationship, how you might be exacerbating the problems, and give suggestions about how you could respond instead. A REAL eye opener!
One of the biggest things I liked about this book is that the authors didn't suggest that we should all go around acting uninterested and like we don't want serious relationships, when we do. Or that a woman should play hard to get and make a man "chase" her. This seems to be the prevailing wisdom of most dating books out there. But, as the authors point out, it would make no sense, especially if you are anxiously attached. By pretending that you don't care about being in a serious relationship, you are just attracting the wrong people for you (avoidants, if you are anxious). Hooray for honesty!
Bleh. This book had a promising premise and while the underlying theory has some merit, I found the explanations too simplistic, and the examples too stark (almost caricature-like) to capture the nuances of human personalities and relationships. So, while the book had several “A-ha!” moments, the suggestions of what to DO with this information was lacking.
Also, as someone who fell into the Secure/Avoidant category, this book was a let down. There was little acknowledgment that some (most?) people do not fit neatly into a box. While the authors were exceedingly sympathetic to Anxious types, and congratulatory of Secures, the recurring theme was that Avoidants are toxic, cold, emotionally unavailable, and generally crappy partners and everyone else should steer clear. Not really helpful or productive if you are somewhat/entirely Avoidant, particularly one who is proactive enough to pick up this book and read it in the first place.
The first (and maybe only) thing to understand about attachment theory, is that attachment is simply a fancy word for love. Plain and simple. Once you understand that, the rest of the theory makes perfect sense.
The next thing to know is that our patterns of bonding and repairing are conditioned i.e. learned, beginning in relationship between caregivers and infants, and continuing into adulthood.
The last thing to know is that our relational conditioning i.e. attachment style can be problematic, but it can also change for the better over time, particularly with intentional therapeutic work. And understanding attachment theory can be an instrumental part of that process of therapeutic change.
So what exactly is attachment theory?
I'm glad you asked.
Attachment theory began in the 1940's as a way to describe patterns of infant and caregiver bonding. It is one of the first psychological theories to integrate evolutionary theory. As such, it represented a radical departure from the dominant psychological theories of the time e.g. Freudian and Behaviorist orientations. Attachment Theory survived (in part) due to its simplicity and profound explanatory power.
The creators of attachment theory (John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth) posited that mammals (particularly humans) evolved the capacity to deeply, emotionally connect with their young due to the relatively long period of infant dependence, circa 50 years (and counting) if one were to use my case as an example.
Attachment theory asserted that if mammals (particularly humans) and their young fail to bond (i.e. attach), than the young are very likely to not survive, and the parents would then have failed to pass on their genes. Based on this assertion, the theory predicts that (a) infants will feel distressed at separation from their primary care giver, and (b) the infants will be motivated to reduce the distress by seeking proximity and emotional attunement upon reunion. And this is of course the case, with some interesting caveats.
Mary Ainsworth created an experimental paradigm known as The Strange Situation, that systematically distressed infants and toddlers by briefly separating them from their care giver, in order to observe their reunion behavior when the pair (typically mother and child) were eventually reunited.
Strange situation researchers have determined that attachment behavior strategies can be generally classified in four categories. (1) Secure Attachment, in which the infant easily reconnects with care giver (2) Anxious Attachment, I which the infant is overly concerned or "preoccupied" with the task of getting the care givers attention, (3) Avoidant Attachment, in which the infant is unconcerned or "dismissive" of the task of getting the care givers attention, and (4) Disorganized Attachment in which the infant displays fearful, preoccupied and dismissive behaviors and lacks an "organized" attachment strategy.
NOTE: The Disorganized style typically comes as a result of exposure to childhood trauma, neglect and or abuse and therefore occurs infrequently (around 2-5%) except for in low SES communities with high violent crime, or in war zones etc. where it is observed at a much higher rate.
Later resurch found that (surprise surprise) people cary these attachment styles into their adult relationships, sometimes resulting in relational problems depending on which attachment styles are paired.
The book particularly takes critical aim at couples in which an anxious pairs with an avoidant. I actually didn't "need" a book to tell me how bad those are, but it sure is nice to finally have some valid tools to deconstruct (and ideally defuse) toxic relationship patterns.
Adult attachment theory is really fun and useful, to a point. And then it's use value breaks down necessarily due to it's simplicity. It's hard to imagine a 4 quadrant grid being able to entirely explain the rich complexity of human bonding.
Maps are, out of necessity, simplifications. That's what makes them effective. Attachment theory is a fantastic map to the rocky, maze like terrane of human love and commitment, but it's important not to relate to the map as if it were the territory it's self.
That being said. Try to find your way around Los Angeles with out a map. Maps are really really good things.
I personally like to use a lot of maps. I like to supplement the attachment theory map with neuroscience (especially psychnuroendocrinology) Danieal Siegel does a good job of integrating the neuroscience with attachment theory for a broad popular audience. I love Robert Sapolsky's work too.
For those new to adult attachment theory, this is pretty crucial reading. I'm unaware of any other popular treatment of the subject.
Sue Johnson's Hold Me Tight covers some of the same ground, but is much more oriented towards explaining her particular take on couples therapy i.e. Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples.
This book is more general, and (in my opinion) much more informative and helpful than Hold Me Tight.
One of the things I loved (LOVED) about this book is it doesn't assume it's necessarily worthwhile to salvage every relationship. In fact, the authors attempt to inoculate the reader from certain fundamentally flawed pairings. Yes! I love the commonsensical message that breaking it off, or avoiding a bad one altogether may be the best move.
I also love that the book is brief. Not overly brief, just direct and to the point. Lean and mean. Unlike this epic review ;)
So anyway, read it. It's well done and chock full of useful life tools and insights. Well worth the price tag.
Do not read this book. It may be comforting for someone to affirm that being needy or aloof is just your attachment style, but you're doing yourself a disservice. As someone with a degree in psychology, I disagree with the conclusions the author draws from the research. An distant or anxious "attachment style" is an unhealthy way to approach relationships, and likely a sign that there are deeper issues to work through. The worst thing you can do is to put on one of their labels, and use that as an excuse not to take a deeper look at your actions. This is a harmful book that will mislead you on your quest for a healthy, loving relationship.
I was not a fan of this book. It has some good basic information about attachment styles, but it could have been communicated in about 20 pages. The rest of the book takes the form of advice on how to have fulfilling relationships, and it is saturated with the mononormative bias of the author.
The traditional lifelong monogamous pair-bond, throughout the entire book, is held up as the shining pinnacle of relationships and is assumed to be everyone's goal. Any desire for autonomy is evidence of an avoidant attachment style and should be resisted. Ditto for any outside sexual interest (which is experienced by almost everyone). Codependence is encouraged as the mark of a secure attachment.
There is also a clear favoritism toward a secure attachment style, which is to be expected as it is generally viewed as the healthiest style (and evidence supports this view). But there is also a favoritism toward anxious attachment style over avoidant. Partners of people with anxious attachment style are encouraged just to accommodate their partner's clinginess, constant need for reassurance, possessiveness, and jealousy, while partners of people with avoidant attachment style are encouraged to leave the relationship or else accept that they will never be completely happy. There is very little advice given on how to make an avoidant partner feel safe experiencing intimacy. Most advice regarding avoidant style is on how to change it.
I was also unhappy with the presentation of each attachment style being unique to a person instead of unique to a relationship. That is not my experience of attachment styles. With some partners, I have a secure attachment style. With others, I can be anxious or avoidant. It's not because any one of these is my innate attachment style. It is because I am reacting to my partner's feelings and behavior. I have noticed this with other people also. My experience is that people do not have a discrete attachment style that gets implemented with every partner. My experience is that each *relationship* has a certain dynamic where each partner plays out one of the attachment styles, but that the exact same person can have a different attachment style in a different relationship.
If you're avoidant, I hope you're ready to feel REALLY REALLY guilty because you will feel like a shit heel after reading this book.
Source: I feel like a shit heel
What I enjoyed about it the most was that feeling of "YES! That IS exactly what happens! Someone else finally gets it!"
It's a very heteronormative, monogamous book, so it was really interesting to read it through the polyamory lens. They put forward the idea that people can learn to become more "Secure" in their attachment. I hereby declare: if you want to become "Secure," become polyamorous, and you'll be FORCED to figure your shit out.
Interesting read on the theory of adult attachments in romantic relationships. While the categorisation of every human relationship into 3 categories of Secure (50% of the population), Anxious (21%), and Avoidant (25%) may not be all inclusive and exhaustive for those with a discerning and scrutinising disposition; however, it does offer a useful insight into your relationships, if you can relate to one of the 3 categories.
What I liked about the book is that it doesn't tell you which is the best category to belong to, or how you should change in order to be more Secure (the category ideally suited for all relationships - the O Negative of relationships). The lessons in the book are more about understanding the 3 categories and feeling comfortable with yours in order to avoid the negative emotions that come associated with relationships between people belonging to different categories; especially ones that arise from Anxious-Avoidant relationships, which tends to happen most frequently despite the inherent incompatibilities.
Given their nature, this book is more likely to be read by people belonging to the Anxious category, and much less by the Avoidants, who could possibly benefit the most from it.
Don’t be fooled by the title. The title is like wishy washing voodoo magic to suddenly make a sparkly relationship appear. And that’s bullshit of course. The actual content of the book is not bullshit though. It opened my eyes, and so many puzzle pieces finally came together.
The premise is that your childhood, but also any experience you had afterwards with intimate relationships, lead to certain attachment patterns. If you’re lucky, you’re securely attached. If you’re slightly less lucky you might be avoidant or anxious. So many things I read in the testimonies nearly brought me to tears because they were so real to me. It felt like the author had opened my own head and take a peek of what’s inside.
I finished this book a few weeks ago, and it has helped me tremendously. First, to understand what it is I struggle with, and to know that I’m hardly alone. Second, to identify my behaviours and realizing when I’m doing something “off” (protest behaviours, overanalysing, thinking just a sentence can ruin things) so I don’t go sabotaging yet another good thing without wanting to.
But what I also like about it is that it is acknowledging these attachment patters without saying that there’s something wrong with you. They come from the cards we got dealt in life, and these patterns also make us who we are. Yes, getting yourself to a more secure stage will help, but until you get there, accept who you are, and try to slowly get yourself on the right path.
I'm interested in adult attachment theory, and how adults develop attachments to support persons. I am not interested in heteronormative, dyad-enforcing, pathologizing, or reductionist guidebooks to finding "that special someone."
I would like to read a book that shows the research surrounding attachment theory as applied to community- not just monogamous relationships between straight folk. This book just doesn't cut it.
I’ll admit it. I am totally attached to _Attached_. But, not in an unhealthy way, really. I’ve read my fair share of books on relationships (including textbooks during my clinical training as a therapist), and I can honestly say that this book provides the most elegant framework for organizing, explaining, and rescuing relationship problems that I’ve seen.
It clearly delivers on the hope that the authors have for this book: “We hope that you will use the relationship wisdom distilled in this book, from more than two decades of research, to find happiness in your romantic connections and to soar in all aspects of your life. If you follow the attachment principles we have outlined, you will be actively giving yourself the best shot at finding—and keeping—a deeply gratifying love, instead of leaving one of the most important aspects of your life to chance!” (pp. 272-273)
Based on the science of attachment, the book looks at the three basic types of attachment: avoidant, anxious, and secure. In a nutshell: if you’re avoidant, relationships feel like a threat to your independence; if you’re anxious, relationships feel like a lifeline that is going to be yanked away from you at any moment; if you’re secure, relationships provide you with peace of mind. Early on, the book helps you determine your style of attachment, and the style of your partner as well.
After helping to determine attachment styles, the book takes a closer look at how these three different attachment styles present themselves in everyday life, and when they are most likely to clash. Not surprisingly, the most clash-likely relationship is between a person with an avoidant style of attachment and one with an anxious style. (Can we say distancer and pursuer?) The authors provide both insight and hope for helping avoiding the needless suffering often accompanying this attachment style mis-match:
“People have very different capacities for intimacy. And when one person’s need for closeness is met with another person’s need for independence and distance, a lot of unhappiness ensues. By being cognizant of this fact, both of you can navigate your way better in the dating world to find someone with intimacy needs similar to your own (if you are unattached) or reach an entirely new understanding about your differing needs in an existing relationship—a first and necessary step toward steering it in a more secure direction.” (p. 270)
The book provides tools and communication strategies that use attachment principles to help you avoid the traps of mismatched relationships (and/or help you free yourself and survive one you may have fallen into), and shows you how to focus your energies on building secure relationships. Even if you’re not the secure type (only about 50% of people are), it still is possible to be in a secure relationship—it just takes a good mix of self-awareness and ongoing work. Think of this book as the guidebook for doing that work.
The cherry on top of this deliciously satisfying book comes in the form of the authors’ simple, but profound, summary of the key essentials for finding and keeping (secure) love: ***Your attachment needs are legitimate. ***You shouldn’t feel bad for depending on the person you are closet to—it is part of your genetic makeup. ***A relationship, from an attachment perspective, should make you feel more self-confident and give you peace of mind. If it doesn’t, this is a wake up call! ***And, above all, remain true to your authentic self—playing games will only distance you from your ultimate goal of finding happiness, be it with your current partner or with someone else. (p. 272)
_Attached_ should seriously be required reading for anyone who has been, is, wants to be, or will be in a relationship. Yep, it is that good. And, so can be your relationships if you take this book to heart!
Don’t even bother wasting your time with this book.
The examples are way too simplistic and the author tries to link every behaviour a person might have to attachment style, which may not always be the case. For example, he uses the example of Tamara and Greg at the beginning of the book where their relationship seems to start off normal until Greg starts to pull away and gives mixed signals. The author concludes that if you start to get bothered and clingy from the sudden change of behaviour to mixed signals, then you definitely have an anxious attachment style. But if you look at the behaviour in itself, it seems like that’s just a natural reaction to someone who initially seemed interested in you to begin with and then starts to pull away randomly. Same goes as a reaction to anxious behaviour - If someone is too clingy then it almost seems like a natural reaction to pull away to maintain some sort of space instead of automatically jumping to the conclusion that pulling away is avoidant. There should be multiple indicators to fully confirm your attachment style, but the author just simplifies it too much and makes it into a generalization. As a secure style, I’ve personally exhibited behaviour from both anxious and avoidant attachment styles as well. So, one particular behaviour shouldn’t be the be all end all to determining attachment style, which is what the author does a lot in the book.
The author also tends to put secure people on a pedestal and in certain examples just makes them seem too “perfect”. For example, Chloe and Trevor in Chapter 5 (where Trevor is secure) - Of course Trevor just “happened” to be in med school, attractive, had a great sense of humour and athletic. The people he uses in most of his examples just seem completely made up to fit the mould of the stereotype of each attachment style. Not to mention, putting secures on a pedestal makes it seem like dating one of us would be the solution to all relationship problems for anxious/avoidants - This is the idea that comes across from his constant over simplifications even though relationships are way more complicated than that.
The author also pushes the idea that it is up to the secure individual in the relationship to be bearing most of the work, while enabling potentially toxic behaviour from anxious or avoidants. Why is it up to us to always “be available” and “provide behind-the-scenes support for their endeavours” if the action isn’t reciprocated? He doesn’t actually give any advice to anxious or avoidants on how to be good partners, so a lot of this book is just one-sided and has many missing pieces. Relationships go both ways and both parties should be working together to support each other - Not just one constantly providing support to the other due to their attachment style.
Lastly, it’s clear that the author is just completely biased towards anxious types and against avoidant types. The author to anxious types: “It’s okay sweetie, you just need to find someone who can fit YOUR needs!” vs. to avoidant types: “Until you go to therapy, your love life is f*cked so you better change ASAP”. Like, who hurt you? If this is supposed to be based on science, the author did a horrible job of staying impartial and unbiased, which makes me question the validity of anything that’s even written in this book.
Honestly, if I needed further proof about why I needed to toss my wanker of a boyfriend to the curb him recommending this book to me would be it. So basically the book just lumps people based on so called attachment styles and has a clear bias to the anxious folk. My boyfriend (soon to be EX) is in the secure section and boy aren't they put on a pedestal whilst not to either of our surprise, I am an avoidant and according to the author, all avoidants are bad! bad! bad! Cold SOBs who should be burnt at the stake. Miss me with this nonsense!
Attached is about the science of adult attachment, in the context of love and relationships. Authors Amir Levine and Rachel Heller dive into attachment theory and three behavior styles: Anxious, Avoidant, and Secure. The book details each of these relationship styles, how to identify your own, and provides suggestions on how to best engage with each. I found myself agreeing with a lot, but not all, of the information in this book. I also found myself thinking about my own attachment style and how it’s changed over time. Attached was interesting to listen to and offers a lot to think about — 3.5 stars
While sharing the occasional snippet of relationship wisdom, this book far from delivers what I hoped for. It is full of rhetorical questions and long introductions that waste the readers time (have you ever heard of citation? Or APA style? Footnotes?). Additionally, it makes people's relationships out to be nothing more than a reflection of one of three (or four) attachment styles - which, by the way, means that no one has a "unique" attachment style. Much of the book reads more like a Cosmopolitan quiz than a pop psychology book based on the latest studies in adult attachment. The "unique" attachment styles that are described are posed as the sole indicator of whether a relationship will succeed or fail. The authors presume that any action someone takes is indicative of their attachment style and not possibly of their current situation. There are too many blanket statements and subtle judgments about the "insecures" being less-than.
An actual excerpt: "Before we learned about attachment theory, we took the secures of the world for granted, and even dismissed them as boring. But looking through the attachment prism, we've come to appreciate secure people's talents and abilities. The goofy Homer Simpson-like colleague whome we barely noticed was suddenly transformed into a guy with impressive relationship talent who treats his wife admirably, and our get-a-life neighbor suddenly became a perceptive, caring person who keeps the entire family emotionally in check. But not all secure people are homebodies or goofy. You are not settling by going secure! Secures come in all shapes and forms. Many are good-looking and sexy. Whether plain or gorgeous, we've learned to appreciate them all for what they really are - the "super-mates" of evolution - and we hope that you will too."
... anyone who think Homer Simpson is in any way an ideal relationship role model has never watched the Simpsons and is delivering inaccurate relationship advise... Also, "super-mates"?!?!?!
I find this book to be further proof that MDs are not cut out to be authors.
This book is so simplistic that it reads like a personality quiz in a women's magazine. It complexity ignores issues of gender, simply stating that most people of both genders fall into the "stable" category rather than the "avoidant" or "anxious" groups. What would have been more interesting would have been an exploration of why women are perceived as falling more often into the "anxious" category. This book also seemed to ignore the importance of other personality traits that make one person attracted to another and attribute the entirety of a persons choice in mate to their attachment style. Attached was very self-helpy and quite thin on hard science.
This book was incredibly insightful & helped me figure out my own attachment style & ways I cope with issues in relationships. It also made me aware of the reasons why friends & family stay with the people that they do even if they know the relationship doesn’t serve them. This book is a study on the relationships we hold & how they make us react to issues when they arise. It dissects the secure, anxious, & avoidant attachment styles. It was incredible well-researched & provided significant resources, stories for reference, & workbooks to use to analyze your own attachment style. It made me realize that at the beginning of Finley & I’s relationship, I was anxiously attached to him because of the ways I’d been treated by romantic partners in the past. I now consider myself secure with anxious MOMENTS when I am overwhelmed by emotions (lol). I’ll include a story as example below. . One day, Fin was going to his friend’s aunt’s house to meet her & have dinner with them. He invited me to the dinner part & I got an uber to head over there. It was in a different part of town I wasn’t familiar with, so I texted him I was on the way so he could meet me when I got there & sat back for the hour or so long drive. When I got to the large apartment complex, I texted him I had arrived, but realized he hadn’t replied to my text that I was on the way or that I was there. I began to panic because I had gone a very long way & there were hundreds of apartments they could be in. I sat in the apartment lobby & panic-called him nearly 10 times, each time it went to voicemail. I didn’t know the aunt’s name to ask the front desk attendant what unit she was in, so I just paced around the complex waiting. I began to cry because I didn’t know what to do. Wasn’t he expecting me? Why hadn’t he checked his phone? I began to spiral. I thought about heading home, but didn’t want to spend the money to immediately head back, so I just sat there panic-crying for another half hour. When I finally heard from him, he explained that he wasn’t connected to the internet in her apartment & had no service, so he hadn’t seen any of my messages or calls. He came to find me with his friend & the aunt’s husband & I was so embarrassed. I had red puffy eyes & had so clearly been crying that everyone just felt so bad for me & I felt uncomfortable that I had reacted so anxiously. Looking back, I could’ve called someone to pass the time until he called me back, read my book, or simply gone back home & called it a miscommunication. I realize now that I was actually just so anxious he’d forgotten about me that I reacted the way I did. Back then, I did a great deal of explaining to him that “being forgotten” was a big fear of mine. Now, I don’t even consider that a fear of mine at all because I know he never could forget me & in fact on that day, he never had. It was just a simple internet issue. . Anyways! This was a great & informative read. It helped me a lot. Very insightful! 10/10!
It was a interesting and thought-provoking book. However, it's very simplistic and basically says the solution is to date a secure partner and then everything will be fine. Unless you already are secure, and then you can date almost anyone and everything will be fine. I don't think things are ever that neat. Also, a weird omission was that they never talked about a partnership with two anxious style people. They at least mention a few times that two avoidant people rarely get together and why, which explained why they didn't talk about that pairing, but not a single word about anxious-anxious relationships. Why would those be unlikely to form? Would that be a disaster, or could it be better because both people understand what the other needs and why they act out, and be better at supporting each other than other relationship styles?
I think this book is a good start, but I'd like to read a book that goes into more complicated situations as opposed to this book's simple views and situations.
Wasn't quite what I was expecting, there was less science and more practical advice. I don't think I got as much out of it as some people might (omg if you actually try to make your partner jealous and you are not in middle school, read this book asap), but I think the overall framework they presented is a useful concept.
By classifying folks as anxious, secure and avoidant and not attaching any value judgments to those relationship styles, I think that is helpful for everyone. Sort of like how recognizing that there are introverts, extroverts and more balanced people means not using one to measure the worth of the others; they are just different ways of being. (And one of the things I appreciated was that the book noted that there is no correlation between relationship style and introversion; introverts can have secure attachment styles.)
The thing I personally liked most was the idea of a partner providing a "secure base." I always function better when I have a partner; it makes me feel more able to go off and do things. It always seemed irrational, if the partner is not doing these things with me, why should it matter if I have someone to go home to? But they provide evidence that this is just how we're wired and having that security does make us more able to explore the world independently. Cool.
But the best part is that it acknowledges that humans do need connection and there's nothing shameful about that. Complete self-sufficiency is sometimes promoted as the ideal, but that doesn't mesh with the reality of what humans need.
I don't even know how to express how life-changing this book was/is for me. I read it in two days, devoured it. I think every person on earth should read this book, it would make all relationships and interactions better, giving us all a common language to use to talk about how we act, what we fear and what we need.
I'm starting to put the lessons into practice, and it's scary. Terrifying! But, I know I'm on the right path and with lots of practice and a little time, I'll be successfully managing relationships with my best interests in mind.
Please read this book! Especially if you have struggled in unhealthy relationships, find yourself running away from great people, or find yourself compromising everything you want to keep a runner around. This book will empower you to make changes but also honor what you need and ask for it in a healthy, emotionally mature way.
Looks fascinating, and I really want to read it, but it can't be renewed any more.
Picked the book up to take it back to the library and got completely sucked in. Finished with two days to spare!
This book proposes to explain the recurrent relationship disaster I've reenacted for most of my life ( with 1.5 exceptions). The idea is that there are basically three attachment styles, much like the styles babies have of attaching to their mothers: anxious, secure, and avoidant. The authors propose this as a 2-d graph sort of thing with four quadrants, but it seems more like one spectrum to me. Secure people are basically resilient, communicate clearly, trust each other, and develop emotional intimacy naturally. Avoidant people need a lot of space; if things get too intimate for them, they pull away. Anxious people easily get worried about the relationship and need a lot of closeness and reassurance. They can have great relationships and become more secure if they get that, but if they don't, they end up in a self-reinforcing biological spazz, much like the hot amygdala effect: the attachment system gets hypersensitive, and the braking systems of rationality get weakened.
Unfortunately, avoidant and anxious people tend to be attracted to each other because they each reinforce the other's existing worldviews about relationships. Do this enough, and you can actually start thinking the misery dance that results from these conflicting styles is what passion feels like. Argh! (Sounds like a biological explanation for the love potion.)
Main advice: be real from the beginning, quickly rule out anyone whose attachment style is too far from secure, and communicate your needs like a secure person would.
One thing I would have liked to see (and maybe it was in there but I missed it): what happens if two anxious people get together? Do they reassure each other so much that they morph into a secure relationship, or do they do an f'd-up dance and end up making each other miserable? The book explains all of the other diads: - anxious with secure or avoidant with secure, good--the secure person can anchor the relationship and help the other person become more secure. - secure with secure, obviously good. - anxious with avoidant, of course we know how that goes--the dance of misery. - avoidant with avoidant, doesn't happen--avoidant people need someone to pursue them or the relationship never blossoms into anything.
But what about anxious with anxious?
Notes: p. 12 Attachment is a biological drive--before modern times, people who teamed up were more likely to survive to pass on their genes. "In fact, the need to be near someone special is so important that the brain has a biological mechanism specifically responsible for creating and regulating our connection with our attachment figures (parents, children, and romantic partners). This mechanism, called the attachment system, consists of emotions and behaviors that ensure that we remain safe and protected by staying close to our loved ones. The mechanism explains why a child parted from his or her mother becomes frantic, searches wildly, or cries uncontrollably until he or she reestablishes contact with her. These reactions are coined protest behavior, and we all still exhibit them as grown-ups. In prehistoric times, being close to a partner was a matter of life and death, and our attachment system developed to treat such proximity as an absolute necessity." Even though it's not life and death any more, we still have these systems our brains evolved with. Needing someone isn't pathetic, it's a biological drive.
p. 14 In light of this, a lot of things start to make sense, including why it's so hard to break up with someone who makes you miserable. Evolutionarily, letting go would be insane, so we're driven to protest behaviors, like calling too many times or trying to make the other person jealous, to try to maintain the connection.
p. 20 The problem is not that you're too needy. "Research findings support the exact opposite. Getting attached means that our brain becomes wired to seek the support of our partner by ensuring the partner's psychological and physical proximity. If our partner fails to reassure us, we are programmed to continue our attempts to achieve closeness until the partner does." Early support, before things get out of hand, can short-circuit the process and prevent a lot of strife. "Attachment principles teach us that most people are only as needy as their unmet needs. When their emotional needs are met, and the earlier the better, they usually turn their attention outward. This is sometimes referred to in attachment literature as the 'dependency paradox': The more effectively dependent people are on one another, the more independent and daring they become." -- a supportive partner can provide a secure base for daring in the rest of your life.
p. 26 "Numerous studies show that once we become attached to someone, the two of us form one physiological unit. Our partner regulates our blood pressure, our heart rate, our breathing, and the levels of hormones in our blood. We are no longer separate entities. The emphasis on differentiation that is held by most of today's popular psychology approaches to adult relationships does not hold water from a biological perspective. Dependency is a fact; it's not a choice or a preference."
Study: women told they were about to receive a mild electric shock. "Normally, under stressful conditions the hypothalamus becomes activated."
Three groups of women in this study: alone, holding a stranger's hand, or holding husband's hand. The women who anticipated the shock alone had their hypothalamus light up, as expected. The women holding a stranger's hand had less activity in the hypothalamus, and the women holding their husband's hand had very little. The better they rated their marital satisfaction, the less stress reaction they had.
"The study demonstrates that when two people form an intimate relationship, they regulate each other's psychological and emotional well-being. Their physical proximity and availability influence the stress response. How can we be expected to maintain a high level of differentiation between ourselves and our partners if our basic biology is influenced by them to such an extent?"
p. 33 "When our partner is unable to meet our basic attachment needs, we experience a chronic sense of disquiet and tension that leaves us more exposed to various ailments. Not only is our emotional well-being sacrificed when we are in a romantic partnership with someone who doesn't provide a secure base, but so is our physical health.
"It seems, then, that our partners powerfully affect our ability to thrive in the world. There is no way around that. Not only do they influence how we feel about ourselves but also the degree to which we believe in ourselves and whether we will attempt to achieve our hopes and dreams. Having a partner who fulfills our intrinsic attachment needs and feels comfortable acting as a secure base and safe haven can help us remain emotionally and physically healthier and live longer. Having a partner who is inconsistently available or supportive can be a truly demoralizing and debilitating experience that can literally stunt our growth and stymie our health."
p. 79 "If you have an anxious attachment style, you possess a unique ability to sense when your relationship is threatened. Even a slight hint that something may be wrong will activate your attachment system, and once it's activated, you are unable to calm down until you get a clear indication from your partner that he or she is truly there for you and that the relationship is safe. People with other attachment styles also get activated, but they don't pick up on subtle details that people with an anxious attachment style do."
p. 86 Protest behavior (misguided attempts to gain partner's attention and re-establish contact) - excessive attempts to reestablish contact (calling, texting, etc. too much, waiting for phone call) - withdrawing - keeping score ("He hasn't called me back in three hours, so I won't call again until he does") - acting hostile/shunning/picking fights - threatening to leave while hoping s/he will stop you - manipulations, like acting busy or pretending to have plans when you don't - making him/her feel jealous
p. 89 "The brains of people with an anxious attachment style react ore strongly to thoughts of loss and at the same time under-recruit regions normally used to down-regulate negative emotions. This means that once your attachment system is activated, you will find it much harder to 'turn it off' if you have an anxious attachment style."
p. 92 An anxious person dating an avoidant person leads to the dance of misery. "After living like this for a while, you start to do something interesting. You start to equate the anxiety, the preoccupation, the obsession, and those ever-so-short bursts of joy with love. What you're really doing is equating an activated attachment system with passion." Having a secure base doesn't feel that way--it feels calm and safe. That's what to look for if you want to be happy, even if it seems boring at first.
p. 97 Secure people: - "are comfortable with closeness and don't push you away" - are consistent and reliable. No mixed signals. Willing and able to reassure you if you get distressed. - "see your well-being as a top priority and do their best to read your verbal and non-verbal cues" - "feel comfortable telling you how they feel, very early on, in a consistent manner" - are stable and aren't afraid of commitment
p. 98 Dating books that tell you to play games, act unavailable, don't call first, etc., are right in a way: they do make you more attractive... to avoidant people!
p. 99 how to pick a good partner - face reality, acknowledge your needs, and recognize them as valid - eliminate avoidant types early on--they can't meet your needs. -- mixed signals -- looking for someone perfect or the perfect relationship -- disregards your emotional well-being -- says you're too needy, too sensitive, over-reacting -- doesn't take your feelings seriously as a real concern - Be real and communicate effectively, including your needs - Remember there are plenty of good people out there (date lots so you don't get attached too quickly to the wrong person) - Look for secure people
p. 136 characteristics of secure people - don't feel defensive in fights, so good at de-escalating and resolving conflicts - willing to see different viewpoints - good at communicating, expressing needs without attacking - don't play games - like closeness - give the benefit of the doubt and forgive quickly - see emotional intimacy and sex as linked together - lavish their inner circle with love and respect - believe they can improve the relationship - feel responsible for their partners' well-being, and expect the same from partners
p. 141 The best of how secure people behave - be available to your partner: support them, check in to see how they're doing, comfort them, be sensitive to their distress - don't interfere: don't take over partner's stuff or micromanage--leave them to handle their own responsibilities, take initiative, have power, do things their way. Just be there behind the scenes. - encourage: cheer them on and facilitate their learning and growth
p. 143 Don't take things personally--if someone plays games or whatever, assume that reflects the way they are, not something about you. If you're not sure, be straight about your feelings and see what they do. If the person shows concern and looks for middle ground, great; if they flake out, good riddance.
p. 163 To fix mis-matched relationship, work to become more secure yourself. If you need help, designate a friend with a secure attachment style to help you make sense of things and see how to act like a secure person.
p. 168 Relationship inventory List all relationship partners, then answer other questions column by column (answer #2 for all relationship, then go on to #3, etc.) 1. Name of partner 2. What is/was the relationship like? What recurrent patterns can you recall? 3. Situation that triggered activation or deactivation of attachment system 4. My reaction (thoughts, feelings actions) 5. Insecure attachment working models and principles 6. How I lose out by succumbing to these working models/principles 7. Identify a secure role model who is relevant to this situation andsecure principles to adopt. HOw is s/he relevant?
p. 170 Common Anxious thoughts, emotions, reactions - mind-reading - worry that it was too good to be true or you'll never find anyone else - all-or-nothing thinking - "I'll show him/her!" - gloom and doom
Actions: pick a fight, call too much, wait for them to make the first move, threaten to leave, act hostile, withdraw, manipulate
p. 173 Avoidant actions: leave, belittle your partner, act hostile, look disdainful, withdraw mentally or physically, minimize physical contact, minimize emotional sharing, stop listening to your partner, ignore your partner
p. 174 Secure principles: " - Be available. - Don't interfere. - Act encouragingly. - Communicate effectively. - Don't play games. - View yourself as responsible for your partner's well-being. - Wear your heart on your sleeve--be courageous and honest in your interactions. - Maintain focus on the problem at hand. [Don't dig up other shit.] - Don't make generalizations during conflict. - Douse the flame before it becomes a forest fire--attend to your partner's upsets before they escalate."
p. 190 If you're with an avoidant partner, by understanding this stuff, at least you can realize that all the perceived rejection is not because you're defective. It's just a mismatched attachment style.
p. 192 What to do if it doesn't get better but you want to stay? - Face reality: this will probably never change - Don't take personal offense at being pushed away--that's just how s/he is - Find other ways to get your needs met. Do stuff with friends, have fun on your own. - Find gratitude for partner's good points, accept the bad.
p. 207 What it's like in a secure person's inner circle "- Your well-being comes second to none. - You are confided in first. - Your opinion matters most. - You feel admired and protected. - Your need for closeness is rewarded with even more closeness."
p. 222 "People's response to effective communication is always very telling. It either allows you to avoid getting involved in a dead-end relationship... or it helps bring the relationship to a deeper level."
p. 224 response shows how important your well-being is to the other person: "- Does s/he try to get to the bottom of your concerns? - Does s/he respond to the issue at hand or does s/he try to dodge you? - Does s/he take your concerns seriously or does s/he try to belittle you or make you feel foolish for raising them? - Does s/he try to find ways to make you feel better is is s/he only busy acting defensive? - Is s/he replying to your concerns only factually (as in a court of law) or is s/he also in tune with your emotional well-being?"
p. 225 "Studies show that people with a secure attachment style don't react so strongly, don't get overwhelmed as easily, and can thus calmly and effectively communicate their own feelings and tend to the needs of their partners. Secure people also believe that they are worthy of love and affection, and expect their partners to be responsive and caring. With these beliefs, it's easy to see why they don't let negative thoughts take over, how they can stay calm and collected and assume the other person will react positively. In fact, this attitude can be infectious."
p. 233 when to use effective communication? Always! Or at least when you're about to use protest behavior (if you're anxious) or bolt (if you're avoidant). Use effective communication instead.
p. 235 5 principles of effective communication: "- Wear your heart on your sleeve. [genuine, honest, open, emotionally brave] - Focus on your needs. ["I need...", "I feel...", "I want...."] - Be specific. ["when you X, I ..."] - Don't blame. - Be assertive and non-apologetic. Your relationship needs are valid--period."
p. 245 5 secure principles for resolving conflict "- Show basic concern for the other person's well-being. - Maintain focus on the problem at hand. - Refrain from generalizing the conflict. - Be willing to engage. - Effectively communicate feelings and needs."
p. 272 "Don't lose sight of these facts: - Your attachment needs are legitimate. - You shouldn't feel bad for depending on the person you are closest to--it is part of your genetic makeup. - A relationship, from an attachment perspective, should make you feel more self-confident and give you peace of mind. If it doesn't, this is a wake-up call. - And above all, remain true to your authentic self--playing games will only distance you from your ultimate goal of finding true happiness, be it with your current partner or someone else."
Leave aside for a second that "Attached" by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller slots everyone into 3 relationship attachment categories: secure (50% of the population), anxious (25%), and avoidant (25%) (I'm as suspicious of GUT paradigms as the next wannabe scientist).
However, the authors are both experienced and practicing psychotherapists, and use case after case to provocatively and persuasively put forth their theory, and explain how recognising your own category (and/or sub category) can help you in your love life, whether you're single or coupled up.
Leave aside as well that the examples are overwhelmingly heterosexual (I think I only read about one (tragic) gay couple): the situations, perceptions, strategies, manipulations, reactions, and aftermaths - all of it - can be translated into just about any kind of relationship.
I was startled to see so many aspects of my various relationships over the years (and their breakdowns) described, but most shocking was my realisation that though I think I'm basically secure, I exhibit far more anxious characteristics than I knew or have ever admitted to myself before.
What was nice was how unjudgmental the authors were of each category. There's little to criticise with the secure personality, but the anxious and avoidants were treated with compassion and courtesy, and especially fascinating were the explanations given for why there might be a preponderance of avoidants in the dating pool (they keep breaking up and re-circulating), and why the anxious-avoidant combo is common - despite their inherent incompatibilities (the vicious confirmation of worst expectations). And as someone who is beholden to telling the truth sooner, I was glad to see this injunction repeated throughout - be honest and upfront (to yourself and your lovers) about who you are and what you want and need.
"Attached" is an easy read. I started and finished it on a cross-country flight. It's poppy but not pandering, and it's compelling enough to make you think twice about yourself and the way you think about love and relationships.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I read this. Not because it wasn't good, but because I have this thing about posting relationship-y self-help books on here. I don't want people to know that I spend time thinking about my relationship status. I want to seem cooler than that.
However, I recently found myself dating a person who had me absolutely flummoxed. A friend suggested this book to me thinking it might offer some insight, and I read it rather quickly.
This book is better than most relationship books I have read. The author describes how attachment theory can be applied to romantic relationships. There are three types of attachment: secure, anxious, and avoidant. According to the authors, 50% of the population is securely attached, 25% is anxious, and 25% avoidant. Luckily for me, I am anxious. Which is so much fun. The guy I was dating? Avoidant. Apparently this is the worst combination ever. Most of the book seems to focus on the pitfalls of this particular combination. Or maybe that's just what I chose to focus on.
Anyway, I liked this book because I felt like it really helped me understand why this relationship wasn't working the way I wanted it to. The book provides a lot of examples and checklists and inventories so that you can figure out what's going on in your relationship, how you might be exacerbating the problems, and give suggestions about how you could respond instead.
One thing I liked about this book is that the authors didn't suggest that we should all go around acting uninterested and like we don't want serious relationships when we do. This is the prevailing wisdom of most dating books out there. But, as the authors point out, this makes no sense, especially if you are anxiously attached. By pretending that you don't care about being in a serious relationship, you are just attracting the wrong people for you (avoidants, if you are anxious). Hooray for honesty!
In a culture that scorns dependence and exalts self-reliance, Levine and Heller make the argument for the Dependency Paradox—that the more effectively dependent people are on one another in their inner circle, the more independent and daring they become in the greater world. Or the opposite of Kanye’s central thesis in The Life of Pablo.
The basic premise of Attached is to challenge present-day thinking that dependence is weak and that mastering and controlling our emotions is strong. Not only is effective dependency healthy, but in a secure union, it actually makes the dependents more individually effective than they otherwise would have been on their own.
The book then covers the three most common attachment types—avoidant, anxious and secure—and how to form a secure union among people with different attachment types (hint: secure is best). Basic overview is that secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are warm and loving, anxious people crave intimacy and are preoccupied with their relationships, and avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.
Best quote: People are only as needy as their unmet needs.
I read this book immediately following "Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents" and it did not hold up in light of what felt like a revelatory examination of emotional maturity and relationships.
A few things irritated me as I read this book. First, it's extremely heteronormative; all relationships examples given in the book were between straight, cis couples, and secondly, in my opinion most were stereotypical in their portrayal of the kinds of problems experienced between men and women.
This book has been recommended to me by several people, but I felt alienated by it. The three categories--anxious, avoidant, and secure--all felt too general. The behavior that was assigned into each of these three felt at times that it needed to be examined in a more nuanced way. Some behavior mentioned felt like it bordered on abusive and wasn't just an "attachment style".
Also the advice seems to generally be "find someone mature to partner with who will put up with your bullshit, and maybe get better at communicating" which seems a little unfair to all those emotionally mature people out there. It's not their job to heal the rest of us.
This is what I get for not properly vetting my interlibrary loan requests. Contrary to what I thought I was checking out, this is not a popular science non-fiction-type book about the psychology of adult attachment. This is a self-help book, which now that I re-read the subtitle, is clear before even opening the book. Mea culpa.
Ok, but dating sucks and is generally demoralizing and I can think of about a million other unpleasant activities in which I'd rather engage, so I gave it a quick read/skim. Like just the other day I went on a date with a *grown man* who proudly bragged about how he beat the shit out of his neighbor six months ago. And I'm reminded of Sally telling Harry (in the movie, the greatest, best movie) about how after dinner, her date reached over, plucked a hair out of her head, and started flossing with it. Honestly, I half expect that shit to happen at this point. Dating is terrible. Anyway. Things I already knew: I'm pretty good at communication! People open up to me! It's nice! I'm securely attached! But before my self-congratulations go too far, like most women in our culture, I have anxious tendencies. And since most dudes in our culture (even the securely attached ones!) have avoidant tendencies, like, there's the conflict, or something. I didn't learn anything new there that I didn't already know from (a) life and (b) friends who are smarter (and better researched in this area) than me.
I wouldn't not recommend this book though, if you think you're in need of a little self-reflection and maybe to hone in on the destructive patterns your relationships fall into. Adult attachment is really real, and it will really affect your relationships, and it's best to understand yourself and your behaviors, whenever possible, regardless of the situation, because both personal growth and feeling connected to others are really pretty important to leading a satisfying life. So check out this book if you think you should, and don't if you don't. Trust me, I'm a psychologist.
A life transforming book falls a little short of a solid 5 star material.
This is my first reading on marriages and relationships, obviously I want to get better, accept my limitations and become my better self as a partner and as a parent.
This book introduces to Attachment theory and it's types, barely reading the first chapter I got to know my attachment style and my partner's and that clearly explains the trouble in our marriage. Instead of getting disappointed, I started focusing on what this book was to offer and I was immensely satisfied upon finishing this book.
This book thoroughly covers the types of attachments, checklist to evaluate your attachment type and helps find out others' attachment type. The precautions in choosing a partner w.r.t. your current attachment style, If you're already in a relationship how to become better, the clash of attachment styles and most importantly why secure attachment style is the pivot for a long-lasting, happier and healthier relationship.
There are a lot of strategies and tips included to help becoming a secure in a relationship with conflict-resolution, effective communication and secure basic principles. That's being said I'm relieved that I gave this book a try and have a clear picture in my mind how to apply these to make my relation better.
The only downside I noticed in this book is that, not enough material covered on Avoidant attachment and ofter portrayed Avoidant as a villain and Anxious as a victim which is a bit biased which I'm happy to ignore when compared to the amount of knowledge I gained.