Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help YouFind – and Keep – Love PDF AZW3 EPUB MOBI TXT Download

“Over a decade after its publication, one book on dating has people firmly in its grip.”—The New York TimesWe already rely on science to tell us what to eat, when to exercise, and how long to sleep. Why not use science to help us improve our relationships? In this revolutionary book, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller scientifically explain why why some people seem to navigate relationships effortlessly, while others struggle.Discover how an understanding of adult attachment—the most advanced relationship science in existence today—can help us find and sustain love. Pioneered by psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950s, the field of attachment posits that each of us 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 mate) follow, offering a road map for building stronger, more fulfilling connections with the people they love.

Amir Levine
January 5, 2012
304 pages

File Size: 53 MB
Available File Formats: PDF AZW3 DOCX EPUB MOBI TXT or Kindle audiobook Audio CD(Several files can be converted to each other)
Language: English, Francais, Italiano, Espanol, Deutsch, chinese

“Over a decade after its publication, one book on dating has people firmly in its grip.”—The New York Times”Amir Levine and Rachel Heller have written a very smart book: It is clear, easy to read and insightful. It’s a valuable tool whether you are just entering a relationship with a new partner or-as in my case–even after you’ve been married 21 years, and had thought you knew everything about your spouse.” –Scientific American “Anyone who has been plagued by that age-old question—’What is his deal?”—could benefit from a crash course in attachment theory.” –Elle “The authors have distilled years of attachment theory research on the nature of human relationships into a practical, highly readable guide.” –John B. Herman, M.D., Associate Chief of Psychiatry and Distinguished Scholar of Medical Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School “Based on twenty-five years of research, laced with vivid and instructive examples, and enriched with interesting and well-designed exercises, the book provides deep insights and invaluable skills that will benefit every reader.” –Phillip R. Shaver, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology,  University of California, Davis and Past President, International Association for Relationship Research “Chock-full of tips, questionnaires, and case studies, this is a solidly researched and intriguing approach to the perennial trials of looking for love in all the right places and improving existing relationships.” –Publishers Weekly “A practical, enjoyable guide to forming rewarding romantic relationships.” –Kirkus Reviews “This book is both fascinating and fun. Attached will help every reader understand whom they are attracted to as partners, why, and what they can do to reach fulfillment in love. I enjoyed every moment.” –Janet Klosko, PhD., co-author of the bestselling Reinventing Your Life”A groundbreaking book that redefines what it means to be in a relationship.”–John Gray, PhD., bestselling author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are  from Venus About the Author Amir Levine, M.D. is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist and neuroscientist. He graduated from the residency program at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University and for the past few years Amir has been conducting neuroscience research at Columbia under the mentorship of Nobel Prize Laureate Eric Kandel. Amir also has a passion for working with patients and it is in this context, while working with mothers and children in a therapeutic nursery, that he first discovered the power of attachment theory. His clinical work together with his deep understanding of the brain from a neuroscientist’s perspective contribute to his appreciation of attachment theory and its remarkable effectiveness in helping to heal patients. Amir lives in New York City.Rachel Heller, M.A. studied at Columbia University with some of the most prominent scholars in the field of social psychology. She now works with families and couples as a psychologist in private practice. Rachel lives in Israel. Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. The New Science of Adult AttachmentDecoding Relationship Behavior• Only two weeks into dating this guy and already I’m making myself miserable worrying that he doesn’t find me attractive enough and obsessing about whether or not he’s going to call! I know that once again I’ll manage to turn all my fears about not being good enough into a self-fulfilling prophecy and ruin yet another chance at a relationship!• What’s wrong with me? I’m a smart, good-looking guy with a successful career. I have a lot to offer. I’ve dated some terrific women, but inevitably, after a few weeks I lose interest and start to feel trapped. It shouldn’t be this hard to find someone I’m compatible with.• I’ve been married to my husband for years and yet feel completely alone. He was never one to discuss his emotions or talk about the relationship, but things have gone from bad to worse. He stays at work late almost every weeknight and on weekends he’s either at the golf course with friends or watching the sports channel on TV. There’s just nothing to keep us together. Maybe I’d be better off alone.Each of these problems is deeply painful, touching upon the innermost core of people’s lives. And yet no one explanation or solution fits the bill. Each case seems unique and personal; each stems from an endless number of possible root causes. Deciphering them would require a deep acquaintance with all the people involved. Past history, previous relationships, and personality type are just a few of the avenues that a therapist would need to pursue. This, at least, is what we, as clinicians in the field of mental health, were taught and believed, until we made a new discovery—one that provided a straightforward explanation for all three problems described above and many more. The story of this discovery, and what came after it, is what this book is about.IS LOVE ENOUGH?A few years ago, our close friend Tamara started dating someone new:I first noticed Greg at a cocktail party at a friend’s house. He was unbelievably good-looking, and I found the fact that I caught his eye very flattering. A few days later we went out for dinner with some other people, and I couldn’t resist the glimmer of excitement in his eyes when he looked at me. But what I found most enticing were his words and an implicit promise of togetherness that he conveyed. The promise of not being alone. He said things like “Tamara, you don’t have to be home all by yourself, you can come and work over at my place,” “You can call me any time you like.” There was comfort in these statements: The comfort of belonging to someone, of not being alone in the world. If I’d only listened carefully, I could have easily heard another message that was incongruent with this promise, a message that made it clear that Greg feared getting too close and was uncomfortable with commitment. Several times he’d mentioned that he’d never had a stable relationship—that for some reason he always grew tired of his girlfriends and felt the need to move on.Though I could identify these issues as potentially problematic, at the time I didn’t know how to correctly gauge their implications. All I had to guide me was the common belief that many of us grow up with: The belief that love conquers all. And so I let love conquer me. Nothing was more important to me than being with him. Yet at the same time the other messages persisted about his inability to commit. I shrugged them off, confident that with me, things would be different. Of course, I was wrong. As we got closer, his messages got more erratic and everything started to fall apart; he began telling me that he was too busy to meet on this night or that. Sometimes he’d claim that his entire work week looked “crazy” and would ask if we could just meet on the weekend. I’d agree, but inside I had a sinking feeling something was wrong, but what?From then on I was always anxious. I was preoccupied with his whereabouts and became hypersensitive to anything that could possibly imply that he wanted to break up. But while Greg’s behavior presented me with ample evidence of his dissatisfaction, he interspersed pushing me away with just enough affection and apologies to keep me from breaking up with him.After a while, the ups and downs started to take a toll and I could no longer control my emotions. I didn’t know how to act, and despite my better judgment, I’d avoid making plans with friends in case he called. I completely lost interest in everything else that was important to me. Before long the relationship couldn’t withstand the strain and everything soon came to a screeching halt.As friends, we were happy at first to see Tamara meet someone new that she was excited about, but as the relationship unfolded, we became increasingly concerned over her growing preoccupation with Greg. Her vitality gave way to anxiousness and insecurity. Most of the time she was either waiting for a call from Greg or too worried and preoccupied about the relationship to enjoy spending time with us as she had done in the past. It became apparent that her work was also suffering, and she expressed some concern that she may lose her job. We had always considered Tamara to be an extremely well-rounded, resilient person, and we were starting to wonder if we were mistaken about her strength. Although Tamara could point out Greg’s history of being unable to maintain a serious relationship and his unpredictability, and even acknowledged that she would probably be happier without him, she was not able to muster the strength to leave.As experienced mental-health professionals, we had a hard time accepting that a sophisticated, intelligent woman like Tamara had so derailed from her usual self. Why was such a successful woman acting in such a helpless way? Why would somebody whom we’ve known to be so adaptive to most of life’s challenges become powerless in this one? The other end of the equation was equally puzzling. Why would Greg send out such mixed messages, although it was clear, even to us, that he did love her? There were many possible complex psychological answers to these questions, but a surprisingly simple yet far-reaching insight into the situation came from an unexpected source.FROM THE THERAPEUTIC NURSERY TO A PRACTICAL SCIENCE OF ADULT LOVEAt about the same time that Tamara was dating Greg, Amir was working part-time in the Therapeutic Nursery at Columbia University. Here, he used attachment-guided therapy to help mothers create a more secure bond with their children. The powerful effect that attachment-guided treatment had on the relationship between mother and child encouraged Amir to deepen his knowledge of attachment theory. This eventually led him to a fascinating discovery: as research findings first made by Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver indicated, adults show patterns of attachment to their romantic partners similar to the patterns of attachment of children with their parents. As he read more about adult attachment, Amir began to notice attachment behavior in adults all around him. He realized that this discovery could have astounding implications for everyday life.The first thing Amir did, once he realized the far-reaching implications of attachment theory for adult relationships, was to call his longtime friend Rachel. He described to her how effectively attachment theory explained the range of behaviors in adult relationships, and asked her to help him transform the academic studies and scientific data he’d been reading into practical guidelines and advice that people could use to actually change the course of their lives. And that’s how this book came to be.THE SECURE, THE ANXIOUS, AND THE AVOIDANTAttachment theory designates three main “attachment styles,” or manners in which people perceive and respond to intimacy in romantic relationships, which parallel those found in children: Secure, Anxious, and Avoidant. Basically, secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving; anxious people crave intimacy, 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. In addition, people with each of these attachment styles differ in: • their view of intimacy and togetherness• the way they deal with conflict• their attitude toward sex• their ability to communicate their wishes and needs   • their expectations from their partner and the relationship   All people in our society, whether they have just started dating someone or have been married for forty years, fall into one of these categories, or, more rarely, into a combination of the latter two (anxious and avoidant). Just over 50 percent are secure, around 20 percent are anxious, 25 percent are avoidant, and the remaining 3 to 5 percent fall into the fourth, less common category (combination anxious and avoidant).   Adult attachment research has produced hundreds of scientific papers and dozens of books that carefully delineate the way in which adults behave in close romantic ties. These studies have confirmed, many times over, the existence of these attachment styles in adults in a wide range of countries and cultures. Understanding attachment styles is an easy and reliable way to understand and predict people’s behavior in any romantic situation. In fact, one of the main messages of this theory is that in romantic situations, we are programmed to act in a predetermined manner.   Where Do Attachment Styles Come From?   Initially it was assumed that adult attachment styles were primarily a product of your upbringing. Thus, it was hypothesized that your current attachment style is determined by the way in which you were cared for as a baby: If your parents were sensitive, available, and responsive, you should have a secure attachment style; if they were inconsistently responsive, you should develop an anxious attachment style; and if they were distant, rigid, and unresponsive, you should develop an avoidant attachment style. Today, however, we know that attachment styles in adulthood are influenced by a variety of factors, one of which is the way our parents cared for us, but other factors also come into play, including our life experiences. For more, see chapter 7.  TAMARA AND GREG: A FRESH PERSPECTIVE   We revisited our friend Tamara’s story, and saw it in an entirely new light now. Attachment research contained a prototype of Greg—who had an avoidant attachment style—accurate down to the last detail. It summarized how he thought, behaved, and reacted to the world. It predicted his distancing, his finding fault in Tamara, his initiating fights that set back any progress in their relationship, and his enormous difficulty in saying “I love you.” Intriguingly, the research findings explained that though he wanted to be close to her, he felt compelled to push her away—not because he wasn’t “into her” or because he thought “she’s not good enough” (as Tamara had concluded). On the contrary, he pushed her away because he felt the closeness and intimacy increasing.   As it also turned out, Tamara wasn’t unique either. The theory explained her behaviors, thoughts, and reactions, typical for someone with an anxious attachment style, with surprising precision as well. It foresaw her increasing clinginess in the face of his distancing; it predicted her inability to concentrate at work, her constant thoughts about the relationship, and her oversensitivity to everything Greg did. It also predicted that even though she decided to break up with him, she could never muster up the courage to do so. It showed why, against her better judgment and the advice of close friends, she would do almost anything to try to be close to him. Most important, this theory revealed why Tamara and Greg found it so hard to get along even though they did indeed love each other. They spoke two different languages and exacerbated each other’s natural tendencies—hers to seek physical and emotional closeness and his to prefer independence and shy away from intimacy. The accuracy with which the theory described the pair was uncanny. It was as though the researchers had been privy to the couple’s most intimate moments and personal thoughts. Psychological approaches can be somewhat vague, leaving plenty of room for interpretation, but this theory managed to provide precise, evidence-based insight into a seemingly one-of-a-kind relationship.  Although it’s not impossible for someone to change his or her attachment style—on average, one in four people do so over a four-year period—most people are unaware of the issue, so these changes happen without their ever knowing they have occurred (or why). Wouldn’t it be great, we thought, if we could help people have some measure of control over these life-altering shifts? What a difference it would make if they could consciously work toward becoming more secure in their attachment styles instead of letting life sway them every which way!  Learning about these three attachment styles was a true eye-opener for us; we discovered that adult attachment behavior was everywhere. We were able to view our own romantic behaviors and those of people around us in a fresh new light. By assigning attachment styles to patients, colleagues, and friends, we could interpret their relationships differently and gain much more clarity. Their behavior no longer seemed baffling and complex, but rather predictable under the circumstances.   EVOLUTIONARY TIES   Attachment theory is based on the assertion that the need to be in a close relationship is embedded in our genes. It was John Bowlby’s stroke of genius that brought him to the realization that we’ve been programmed by evolution to single out a few specific individuals in our lives and make them precious to us. We’ve been bred to be dependent on a significant other. The need starts in the womb and ends when we die. Bowlby proposed that throughout evolution, genetic selection favored people who became attached because it provided a survival advantage. In prehistoric times, people who relied only on themselves and had no one to protect them were more likely to end up as prey. More often than not, those who were with somebody who deeply cared about them survived to pass on to their offspring the preference to form intimate bonds. 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.   Imagine hearing news of a plane crash in the Atlantic on the evening your partner is flying from New York to London. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and the accompanying hysteria you’d feel would be your attachment system at work. Your frantic calls to the airport would be your protest behavior.   An extremely important aspect of evolution is heterogeneity. Humans are a very heterogeneous species, varying greatly in appearance, attitudes, and behaviors. This accounts to a great extent for our abundance and for our ability to fit into almost any ecological niche on earth. If we were all identical, then any single environmental challenge would have the potential to wipe us all out. Our variability improves the chances that a segment of the population that is unique in some way might survive when others wouldn’t. Attachment style is no different from any other human characteristic. Although we all have a basic need to form close bonds, the way we create them varies. In a very dangerous environment, it would be less advantageous to invest time and energy in just one person because he or she would not likely be around for too long; it would make more sense to get less attached and move on (and hence, the avoidant attachment style). Another option in a harsh environment is to act in the opposite manner and be intensely persistent and hypervigilant about staying close to your attachment figure (hence, the anxious attachment style). In a more peaceful setting, the intimate bonds formed by investing greatly in a particular individual would yield greater benefits for both the individual and his or her offspring (hence, the secure attachment style).   True, in modern society, we are not hunted by predators as our ancestors were, but in evolutionary terms we’re only a fraction of a second away from the old scheme of things. Our emotional brain was handed down to us by Homo sapiens who lived in a completely different era, and it is their lifestyle and the dangers they encountered that our emotions were designed to address. Our feelings and behaviors in relationships today are not very different from those of our early ancestors.   PROTEST BEHAVIOR IN THE DIGITAL AGE   Armed with our new insights about the implications of attachment styles in everyday life, we started to perceive people’s actions very differently. Behaviors that we used to attribute to someone’s personality traits, or that we had previously labeled as exaggerated, could now be understood with clarity and precision through the lens of attachment. Our findings shed a new light on the difficulty Tamara experienced in letting go of a boyfriend like Greg who made her miserable. It did not necessarily come from weakness. It originated, instead, from a basic instinct to maintain contact with an attachment figure at all costs and was amplified greatly by an anxious attachment style.   For Tamara, the need to remain with Greg was triggered by the very slightest feeling of danger—danger that her lover was out of reach, unresponsive, or in trouble. Letting go in these situations would be insane in evolutionary terms. Using protest behavior, such as calling several times or trying to make him feel jealous, made perfect sense when seen in this light.   What we really liked about attachment theory was that it was formulated on the basis of the population at large. Unlike many other psychological frameworks that were created based on couples who come to therapy, this one drew its lessons from everyone—those who have happy relationships and those who don’t, those who never get treatment and those who actively seek it. It allowed us to learn not only what goes “wrong” in relationships but also what goes “right,” and it allowed us to find and highlight a whole group of people who are barely mentioned in most relationship books. What’s more, the theory does not label behaviors as healthy or unhealthy. None of the attachment styles is in itself seen as “pathological.” On the contrary, romantic behaviors that had previously been seen as odd or misguided now seemed understandable, predictable, even expected. You stay with someone although he’s not sure he loves you? Understandable. You say you want to leave and a few minutes later change your mind and decide that you desperately want to stay? Understandable too.   But are such behaviors effective or worthwhile? That’s a different story. People with a secure attachment style know how to communicate their own expectations and respond to their partner’s needs effectively without having to resort to protest behavior. For the rest of us, understanding is only the beginning.   FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE—DEVELOPING SPECIFIC ATTACHMENTBASED INTERVENTIONS   By understanding that people vary greatly in their need for intimacy and closeness, and that these differences create clashes, adult attachment findings offered us a new way of looking at romantic relationships. But while the research made it easy to understand romantic liaisons better, how can we make a difference in them? The theory held the promise of improving people’s intimate bonds, but its translation from the laboratory to an accessible guide—that people can apply to their own lives—didn’t exist. Believing that here lies a key to guiding people toward better relationships, we set out to learn as much as we could about the three attachment styles and the ways they interacted in everyday situations.   We started interviewing people from all walks of life. We interviewed colleagues and patients, as well as laypeople of different backgrounds and ages. We wrote summaries of the relationship histories and romantic experiences they shared with us. We conducted observations of couples in action. We assessed their attachment styles by analyzing their comments, attitudes, and behaviors and at times offered specific attachment-based interventions. We developed a technique that allowed people to determine—in a relatively short time—someone else’s attachment style. We taught people how they could use their attachment instincts rather than fight them, in order to not only evade unhappy relationships but also uncover the hidden “pearls” worth cultivating—and it worked!   We discovered that unlike other relationship interventions that focus mostly either on singles or on existing couples, adult attachment is an overarching theory of romantic affiliation that allows for the development of useful applications for people in all stages of their romantic life. There are specific applications for people who are dating, those in early stages of relationships, and those who are in long-term ones, for people going through a breakup or those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The common thread is that adult attachment can be put to powerful use in all of these situations and can help guide people throughout their lives to better relationships.   PUTTING INSIGHTS INTO ACTION   After some time, attachment-related lingo became second nature to the people around us. We’d listen to them during a therapy session or at dinner saying, “I can’t go out with him, he’s clearly avoidant,” or “You know me, I’m anxious. A short fling is the last thing I need.” To think that until recently they weren’t even aware of the three attachment styles!   Tamara, of course, learned everything there was to know about attachment theory and about the new discoveries we’d made—she brought the subject up in nearly every conversation we held. She finally had summoned the strength to break off her loose ties with Greg. Shortly afterward, she began dating again with a vengeance. Equipped with her newly acquired attachment knowledge, Tamara was able to elegantly dodge potential suitors with an avoidant attachment style, who she now knew were not right for her. People whom she would have spent days agonizing over in the past—analyzing what they were thinking, whether they would call or whether they were serious about her—fell by the wayside effortlessly. Instead Tamara’s thoughts were focused on assessing whether the new people she met had the capacity to be close and loving in the way that she wanted them to be.   After some time Tamara met Tom, a clearly secure man, and their relationship developed so smoothly she barely discussed it. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to share intimate details with us, it was that she had found a secure base and there were just no crises or dramas to discuss. Most of our conversations now revolved around the fun things they did, their plans for the future, or her career, which was in full swing again.    GOING FORWARD   This book is the product of our translation of attachment research into action. We hope that you, like our many friends, colleagues, and patients, will use it to make better decisions in your personal life. In the following chapters, you’ll learn more about each of the three adult attachment styles and about the ways in which they determine your behavior and attitudes in romantic situations. Past failures will be seen in a new light, and your motives—as well as the motives of others—will become clearer. You’ll learn what your needs are and who you should be with in order to be happy in a relationship. If you are already in a relationship with a partner who has an attachment style that conflicts with your own, you’ll gain insight into why you both think and act as you do and learn strategies to improve your satisfaction level. In either case, you’ll start to experience change—change for the better, of course. Read more <div id="

  • Updated review with additional thoughts and reading recommendations:Keep in mind that this book is written to address a person who is in the anxious role, so it has a reassuring and quelling tone that may not be relatable for a partner who is using de-activating strategies and shutting down. The unfortunate cost of this tone in the book is also that it inadvertently condones or, at least, doesn’t sufficiently take a stance on abusive behaviors. The book omits a critical perspective on the intersection of attachment patterns and gender. Put simply, while attachment styles themselves aren’t gendered, the strategies available for expressing these styles have a socially determined component. For example, when a male-identified individual who is in an anxious role in a relationship resorts to strategies such as controlling behaviors, name-calling, yelling and demanding, etc, there is a gender violence element here that has a social dimension and needs to be named. Attached takes no stance on this and, in the wrong hands, can be quite harmful for this reason rather than empowering.In my view, the reason for this failure is that Attached treats all anxious-avoidant attachment style mismatches as problematic and doesn’t make a clear distinction between when these patterns are abusive versus when they are a normal part of the differences in a relationship (after all, to some extent, all relationships have some degree of attachment style mismatch). The cost of erasing this distinction is that abusive behaviors aren’t named and, on the flip side, relationships that are salvageable and hopeful are treated as a dead-end that will probably always have problems; the book makes a lackluster note about how to use communication to try to improve an anxious-avoidant relationship but its resounding message is clear: you will probably “always” have these problems and the gold star solution is to find a partner with a “secure” attachment style.As a therapist—and as a therapist who uses attachment theory in my work—I found this overarching message in the book bizarre. There already exists a method of couple’s therapy based on attachment called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and it has a high success rate helping couples in anxious-avoidant patterns. So, I was quite surprised by the overriding message in Attached about finding a “securely attached” partner as the solution to relationship mismatches. The very premise of attachment-based couple’s therapy from day one is that the problem is not one’s partner–it’s the painful pattern both are stuck in and the pattern can be modified. The communication strategies in Attached fall short of how to address the attachment mismatch because the book is overly focused on helping one leave a relationship and find a “securely” attached partner.If you are in an anxious-avoidant relationship pattern, and want a more hopeful, effective approach, I recommend instead that you try reading Sue Johnson’s “Hold me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love”. I also recommend reading/watching more about EFT—there is a great YouTube channel by Anabel Bugatti, for example, and many others. When you look for a couple’s therapist, interview them to see if they know about attachment and, if you can, find someone versed in EFT.There is a clear method for helping anxious-avoidant couples and it’s pretty straightforward but there is an order to it: the “avoidant” partner has to be engaged first (in EFT, this step is called “withdrawer re-engagement”), and then the “anxious” partner is able to communicate more clearly and listen with less blame, once they hear a non-defensive version of their “avoidant” partner’s attachment needs (this step is called Blamer Softening in EFT); the cycle is repeated several times until the couple integrates a new, less defensive pattern. Attached, though, flies right in the face of what we know about attachment itself when it recommends to an anxious partner (to whom the book is addressed) that they can try to apply healthy communication strategies to try to improve the relationship. This is probably an impossible emotional feat for someone caught up in the more intense mismatches (fears of abandonment, need for reassurance, etc)— at least not without individual therapy and without couple’s therapy whose interventions are applied in the correct order. There is an interview somewhere online with Sue Johnson where she says that once partners are activated in an argument, they can’t just easily apply communication strategies to calm down (I’ll share it when I find it). That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless or that the solution is to externalize the problem and look for a “securely attached” partner or to become resolved to always having such problems, as the book seems to suggest.That being said, as I mentioned in the beginning, there are times that it’s important to make a distinction between a difficult relationship dance and unacceptable abusive behaviors that warrant leaving. I don’t think Attached is much help with this distinction. In addition to being mum about abusive relationships, the book is also pretty mum about trauma and its impact on relationships. Down-regulating behaviors that look like shutting down and withdrawal can be responses to trauma. There is next to no empathy in Attached toward such down-regulating behaviors and no acknowledgement that they are understandanble and protective responses to trauma triggers. On the other hand, control, name-calling and blame can be expressions of anxious attachment and also signs of abuse and gender violence. Keep in mind, something can be both abusive *and* anxious attachment at the same time. Similarly, something can be both a response to trauma *and* avoidant attachment at the same time. Attachment patterns are a surface presentation—they can be a very useful lens to look through if you and your partner are willing to work through the problems together and look for couple’s counseling. But, there are times when it is also important to name that something more than attachment is at play— abuse, trauma, etc.On this last note, as in my original review, I want to say a little bit about going beyond attachment in order to understand one’s relationship choices better. Attachment patterns are the surface and they don’t speak to underlying dynamics. Attached makes a puzzling and simplistic suggestion that, through conscious intention, you can somehow train yourself to be interested in partners who do not register to you as exciting or familiar. There are issues that cannot be resolved simply by switching partners. For example, if one tends to take on more “anxious” roles in relationships with partners who act more “avoidantly”, there are a host of important questions to understand there that will not be resolved, but repeated (or simply inverted), by switching partners. Growth for a person in such a role could come from owning that connecting to loving/desiring emotions is only possible for them at a distance and working through what that is all about. A person in this role might very well react avoidantly themselves when faced with a partner who is trying to be closer.There is an idea in an approach called Imago Therapy that every individual has an early imprint or working model of what they find attractive based on experiences with those closest to them. Attraction, on this view, comes from finding a partner who at once resembles a familiar trait that felt problematic in a parent/caregiver but also that carries hope of a solution to the problematic trait. For example, if one felt constrained by a controlling parent, a hopeful match for that individual might be a partner who resembles the parent in some way yet who is willing to expand and offer autonomy. What’s crucial is that the person in this basic example does not simply desire autonomy from just any partner—they desire autonomy from someone who they experience as controlling. Both pieces are important— the familiar and the missing quality. On this view, the best chance for growth and contentment comes when partners who are excited by a familiar unconscious bond both own their part of their pattern and agree to the work together, something Attached barely encourages.Unconscious dynamics are something to focus more on in one’s individual therapy— I still think attachment theory, when applied correctly, is the most hopeful lens we have when it comes to couple’s therapy. For anyone struggling in an anxious-avoidant relationship pattern, I highly recommend looking into Emotionally Focused couple’s therapy for a more hopeful and effective approach than in this book. Good luck and thanks for all the comments/questions about my original review!—– Original review below—-As a counselor, I give this book to people (most usually women) who are in abusive relationships where their physical and emotional safety is on the line and who need to empower themselves to flee, but I typically do not recommend it to anyone else. One of the main principles of therapy is that, in order to grow, a person first has to locate the problem as internal to the self, i.e. be able to take ownership. This book is in many ways simplistic and misleading in that it seems to confuse maladaptive relationships with abusive ones and reads as though it is helping a victim get out of a trap, reinforcing a lack of ownership that is a prerequisite for any form of personal or relational growth.The deeper issue is that the book, perhaps in an effort to present an oversimplified version of attachment theory to the layperson, does not make it clear that “avoidant”, “secure” and “anxious” are patterns of relating *between people* rather than something that lives within people as an essential identity. These are dimensions, not categories, so people can locate their responses along a continuum on the avoidant and anxious dimensions depending on many contextual and relational factors. It is common, perhaps expected, for relationships to suffer from maladaptive patterns over time (it’s like a car that needs maintenance) and these are fixable when both partners own their piece and do the work. Unfortunately, this book discourages partners who have taken on a more anxious role in a pattern from locating any internal ownership and suggests that if they roam the world and find one of these magical partners called “secures”, all their problems will be resolved. This is not any different than the trite self-help advice we have heard before about finding a partner with x,y,z characteristics as a solution to internal problems, just dressed up in the sexy, recently prominent language of attachment theory. Rather than locating the problem in the pattern and suggesting that changing your relationship to a partner is possible with ownership on both sides, the book suggests that the problem lives in the partner.I have sat with many couples during therapy where one partner has taken on a more anxious strategy and the other a more avoidant strategy. Many of these couples love each other deeply and are able to fix the pattern between them. This book seems to suggest that these roles are somehow essential traits rather than strategies that can be modified, and discourages a focus on fixing the pattern. This book further seems to suggest that the attraction between such partners rests on a confusion of chaotic feelings that come from attachment distress with genuine love, which is very misleading and does not do justice to the meaningful and deep connection partners in this pattern have to each other.EDIT: Many folks in the comments have asked about what books I would recommend instead. I highly recommend books about Emotionally Focused Couple’s therapy– it’s an approach developed by Sue Johnson and it’s based on attachment theory, too. But I find that the application of attachment theory in EFT’s approach isn’t oversimplified the way it is in this book and it offers a lot of hope to couples in anxious-avoidant patterns. EFT has a high success rate working with these dynamics and views them as a normal part of the dance of relationships. If you are struggling in such a pattern, I would recommend Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson.Another very puzzling and simplistic suggestion in the book is that through conscious intention, you can somehow cause yourself to be interested in partners who do not register to your unconscious mind as exciting or familiar in any way. Every person has an early imprint or working model of what they find attractive and exciting, based on experiences with those closest to them. People who register as boring and unexciting to us do so for an important reason—they are people whose “crazy” does not fit our “crazy” in a way that has the potential to heal us and teach us the most important lessons about ourselves that we need to learn. For example, if one tends to take on anxious roles in relationships with partners who then respond more avoidantly, there are a host of important questions to work through that won’t be resolved, but simply replicated, by switching partners. Such a person, to grow, needs to own that connecting to loving and desiring emotions is only possible for them at a distance, and they need to look inward to figure out what that is all about in order to stop acting in those ways. Could such a person take in affection and care when a partner tries to come close to them, or will such a person in turn react avoidantly themselves? How many times have we seen an anxious person turn avoidant when caring and available partners come their way? In this way, the book fails to address that there are deeper dynamics responsible for attraction that cannot be resolved by switching partners and that “anxious” and “avoidant” are surface presentations of underlying dynamics that need to be worked through to be resolved. For example, if one felt unloved and constrained by a controlling parent, happiness for that individual comes from finding a partner who at once resembles that familiar parent yet who is willing to expand and offer autonomy. What’s crucial is that the person in question does not simply desire autonomy from any random person— they desire autonomy from someone whom they experienced as controlling. And you can bet your life that this individual will keep reenacting this scenario by picking controlling partners and then struggle to twist autonomy out of them. Both pieces are important— the familiar and the missing quality. The best chance for growth and contentment comes when partners who are excited by a familiar unconscious bond both own their part of the pattern and agree to do the work together, something this book barely encourages.
  • I have been in therapy on and off with different providers for almost 3 decades, and been in many failed relationships. Yet not one therapist ever mentioned the words “adult attachment theory” to me until I decided to see a new therapist at age 55. My new therapist recommended this book in my first session and it opened my eyes to what really happens in relationships. However, it is a somewhat simplistic book. It is very accessible to a broad audience, but leaves a lot of unanswered questions, including why we are the way we are and what we might do about it. I read most of it in one day. For anyone craving more information, I highly recommend Mindsight by Dan Siegel, which is a much denser book about the science and complexities of adult attachment issues, how they play out in real life, and what can realistically be done to resolve them. It took me weeks to finish. In particular, I think Attached does a disservice to what it calls “anxious-avoidant” attachment types–with no information at all on this type. Siegel calls this type “disorganized,” and people with this type of attachment are in particular need of helpful, concrete information. To take the issue a step further for practical information for resolving relationship issues pertaining to attachment, I recommend Getting the Love you Want by Harville Hendrix.
  • My psychiatrist pretty much made me order this book even though in my mind I was dead set against, thinking it was going to be a waste of time, perfectly convinced I knew everything about myself and whatever kind of “attached” I was.Whoa.Was I wrong.And I hate to be wrong. Thanks, Dr. D.General Information: This book is an easy read. It’s not that stuff you need to be a rocket-scientist to figure out – in layman terms it briefs you on the broader different styles of attachment: secure, anxious and avoidant. The book helps you determine what kind of attachment styles you have via reading examples of others attachment styles and there are also some quizzes if you’re still not sure, all of which I found useful. I really liked that the authors presented examples of scenarios of attachment styles and encouraged the reader to read through the scenarios and guess the kind of attachment styles that were presented based on the knowledge we had already been given in the earlier part of the book. I find that a helpful way to learn.Given that I was not into reading this in the first place – the fact that it was light reading, interesting and at times fun – made me very attuned to what this book had to say. I agree it wasn’t super in-depth but I don’t fault this book for that because if it was super in depth I would have not even read it. My psychiatrist knows what the heck she is talking about and she choose this book for a reason – so I have zero complaints. I think she was even impressed with how much I was able to take away after reading it in one day.Personal Information:This book taught me a lot about myself. With women, I have anxious attachments – stemming from an unpredictable childhood. I pretty much tend to gravitate toward any one who acts maternal with me and cling to her. This isn’t necessarily about romantic attachment for me, it spelled out a lot of patterns with all the people I have in my life: from friends, family members, partners and even my doctors.I had started to notice that I was feeling unsettled in my relationship with my fiance. I was getting annoyed at everything he did. Little things, like the way he chewed. I would get annoyed when he would text me and completely ignore him for hours at a time. Until I read this book, I didn’t realize the problem was me and that with men I have a very avoidant attachment style. I was able to take the criticism to heart without feeling persecuted because the book doesn’t make you feel that way even though avoidants can come off as very very harsh and cruel and indifferent.I’m now able to communicate more effectively, recognize my own patterns of behavior, identify that I am responsible for my own actions and feelings and now I feel a real sense of control and independence because I have that knowledge. I have that security. I can reciprocate with my fiance now and not be so dismissive of him and I’m able to be a bit more open without feeling that he’s trying to stop me from being my own person or that he’s suffocating me.I highly recommend this book. If you want to delve super deep into this attachment thing – some other reviewers mentioned additions and alternatives but I wouldn’t. I am a very learned person, a very intelligent person and I didn’t need anything more in depth than this book to help me to start to recognize patterns that needed to change. I think this book is best served to people who can admit where they are on the attachment continuum. I happen to be at a place in my life now, thanks to my psychiatrist and therapist, where I am able to let my guard down a bit and accept things that are difficult for me to accept.. Maybe even just six months ago I wouldn’t have been ready to admit this. But given my ability to be ready and my desire to make things right in my life now that I have a child – I didn’t need a guide book to tell me how to figure out the things I needed to do to fix the areas that needed work in my life regarding my attachment styles.I disagree with the reviews that claim this book doesn’t offer us any insight as to why we are the way we are and what we can do about it. Several times this book mentions the theories of infant and other kinds of attachments but does say that it’s not the purpose of this book to delve into that. That’s good enough for me. I was able to discern from the minimal but powerful examples they give of the attachment styles of infants to their caregivers to know why I am the way I am and I wrote a whole essay about it to share with my psychiatrist…. thanks to this book.As for what we can do about it – this was also something I didn’t need a road map for. This is going to sound pretty darn simplistic but maybe that’s just because it is. Kind of just do the opposite of what you’re doing….???? That is how this has been working for me, anyway. But of course, I relied on the examples in the book to help direct my behavior without needing a “HOW TO” direction stamped across the page. You rely on your intuition. You rely on your knowledge. You rely on your empathy and most of all you rely on your willingness to enact change.The examples in this book were definitely not apples to apples with how I am with my fiance – but it was enough of an eye-opening experience for me to say to myself: “Oh geez….. I do things like this all the time and this is how my fiance must feel. He’s just reacting to my avoidance. If I start to try to be less avoidant and give him a little bit more security by acknowledging him maybe he won’t feel so frustrated or taken advantage of or hurt.”And that’s what I started to do. I started to recognize the behaviors I have that are avoidant and started to replace them with more healthy behaviors. At first this wasn’t easy. I felt like I was losing a part of myself by giving in to him but then I realized that’s silly and I went back to the book for guidance and reassurance and that’s when I decided to feel more secure and in control. I’m far more independent by making the right, healthy choices for our relationship than I am being a slave to my fear of dependency. I really feel empowered by this and I thank the authors for putting this out there in a way that isn’t complicated but that is so very helpful.
  • First of all, I really enjoyed reading this book. This is far more insightful than what I learned in my psych courses on attachment theory. I also appreciated the sheer number of examples used in the book, which helped to clarify the authors’ points.It was illuminating to see the many tendencies of different attachment types, especially when we see some attitudes that are prevalent in society. (E.g. The avoidant’s complaints that their partner is being needy, clingy, or demanding; the anxious partner’s apprehension towards the fate of their relationship if their mate takes too long to reply to their text messages.) Because such attitudes and beliefs are widely heard of in our society, we might believe that they are all true and valid beliefs. They are not. In fact, I recognize that they are the products of emotional reasoning—“I feel like this, therefore it’s true.”The self-assessment was helpful, as it uncovered some misunderstandings I had about myself. I thought I was mostly secure but with an avoidant bent, and that I was rarely anxious. However, in the test results, I am indeed predominantly secure, with a few anxious and avoidant tendencies—but I had more anxious than avoidant characteristics! This was quite a surprise. What’s more, I realized that I have fantasies about taking care of and comforting an anxious partner.In addition, I loved the special sections on the avoidant-anxious couple, and why they tend to attract each other. The chapter on effective communication was enlightening too.There are a few things that I would have liked to see in the book, though. For starters, I was struck by how all of the example couples were of the opposite gender (male-female). There was not a single same-gender couple. And there was only one potentially gay person, who was portrayed in a negative light. He was a guy figuring out his sexual orientation, and was depicted as a guy who was stringing women along, even though he was slowly discovering that he was not into females. He apparently had intentions to bring home a girlfriend to please his family too.Not that I think anyone should use someone of the opposite gender to pretend to be heterosexual to their parents. However, it felt disheartening as a gay person myself, to see the only explicitly queer person in the book perceived in such a poor light. It’s like reading those stories where the only gay character in the book is the main villain. It feels terrible.Also, I know most people are still unaware of this, but it bothers me that many books, including this one, are still using the phrases “he or she,” “him or her,” “his or her,” “(s)he,” etc. I would really appreciate it if they used the gender neutral “they,” “their,” “them” instead, since not all folks use “he” or “she” pronouns. Plus, some folks are nonbinary, i.e. neither “male” nor “female.”Secondly, the authors say that anxious men and avoidant women exist, so we shouldn’t assume that anxious and avoidant attachment styles are tied to gender. Yet, in this book, the vast majority of anxious people were women, and almost all of the avoidant people were men…I wish we could see more avoidant females and anxious males in the examples.As a matter of fact, I felt that there was a strong sympathy for anxious individuals, whilst the avoidants were often seen as the bad guys, the jerks, and the heartbreakers. Some examples of avoidants in the book, were downright emotionally and verbally abusive! (Being afraid of closeness, does not give anyone the excuse to belittle and insult their partner.) I don’t doubt that some avoidants treat their partners terribly, but surely there are other avoidants who are not that cruel, as well as some anxious and secure partners who are nasty too.Very many, if not most, of the avoidants in this book behaved so coldly and hurtfully, that this sample of avoidants inevitably demonizes them. Even some of the behaviors and attitudes listed for avoidants were quite atrocious, e.g. more likely to be unfaithful, denigrating and devaluing their partner, etc. It would be very nice if there was a more sympathetic perspective on avoidants, so we can understand their world more. Since most avoidants in the book were men, and there is already so much vilification of men in our society, the avoidants were made to look even worse. I don’t believe that all, or even most, avoidants are horrible and selfish romantic partners, though.There were some points made about avoidants that could be confused with aromantics. I know aromantics are generally unknown or misunderstood by the general population, but still, I wish there was more differentiation between aros and avoidants here.Furthermore, I would love to know more about how an anxious-avoidant couple could still work, aside from having the anxious partner lower their standards for closeness (a one-sided compromise). Couldn’t the avoidant partner make some compromises too?There was a section on finding and emulating secure role models, which sounds promising, but it was not as detailed or in depth as I hoped it to be. How can an avoidant partner make themselves more responsive and available to their partner? Is there any way they can become more comfortable with closeness over time? Instead of just making grudging accommodations for their anxious partner? On the other side of the coin, is there a way that anxious folks can become more comfortable with space and distance? Related to this last point, I’ve heard of one writer, who might have an avoidant attachment style, explain it like this (not the exact wording): “We need time away from our partner to rest and replenish our energy. Afterwards, we will be happy to engage with our partner again. Wanting to take a break from you doesn’t mean we don’t love you. It just means we need some time alone to recharge.” Isn’t this a much more positive and sympathetic portrayal of avoidants? This way, they don’t look like heartless, cold-blooded people.I would be quite curious to learn about secure-avoidant couples. From what I understood, secures do crave emotional closeness, so even though they don’t take their partner’s distance personally, would the secures still feel a little sad inside? Also, just because someone is avoidant, does that mean they can never give and receive emotional intimacy at all? My impression is that they do have some moments of closeness or emotional expressiveness. In fact, I recall one avoidant in the book who had no problems saying the words, “I love you.”In a similar vein, I would like to see more examples of an avoidant partner who uses effective communication to tell their partner their needs, where their partner (even an anxious one) accepts, and where it doesn’t sound like the avoidant is Mirandizing their lover, and absolving themselves of all responsibility. The relationship is not just about the avoidant’s needs and desires, after all. It’s also about their partners’ wants and needs.It would be very interesting to see how an anxious-anxious couple would be like. Would they fare better than the typical avoidant-anxious couple?Finally, there were two concepts that were briefly mentioned but not elaborated on: What is disorganized attachment? And how are people who are both avoidant and anxious like? I would be happy to know more about these two categories of folks.I loved this book very much, thus the five stars. There were just a few areas I described above that I thought the book could improve on.
  • Expected more explanation of how people come to have there ‘style attatchment’ in the first place, understanding background would have made this much more enlightening for me
  • I’m 33 and this is the first review I’m giving as it it beyond words how much I appreciate this book has been written.If I had to name one single thing that was most helpful in emotional hardship, it would be this book!I’m just out of another painful breakup; but reading this book was really soothing and healing me from the recent experience, also from past disappointments and hopefully it will protect me from future ones.I realised that this partner was completely unsuitable for me, I even got almost grossed-out and appalled by his confusing behaviour, finally understanding that every single characteristic of it is a symptom of avoidant attachment style.If I ever had a daughter, this book would be the first thing I’d give her “on the way” when she’s a young adult.Reading it made me finally understand why my past relationships with those people I “loved” very much were always so destructive. Eventually it turns out that it wasn’t love but rather some unhealthy dynamics, a lot of confusion and pain through mixed messages by the other part, that caused me to constantly doubt and dwell on someone excessively, even after breaking up myself because I was so emotionally drained already.If I had known earlier how to spot out and not attract these men that are unsuitable for me, I would probably not have wasted years with the wrong people and I’d be in a happy and stable relationship by now. It is so important to realise and understand these patterns.Don’t confuse feeling anxious about someone with “love” !Don’t let emotional unavailability turn you on!Don’t get hooked on the hight& lows, on inconsistency of someone’s affection.
  • I read this book as I am going through a divorce and it was recommended to me by my therapist. Similar to the book ‘He’s Not That Into You’, I found myself applying the attachment theory to more than just romantic relationships.The lengthy amount of examples to really show how easy it is to pick out secure, anxious or avoiders really helped stress the clues to figuring people out. Taking the test at the beginning for myself then taking the test for my ex partner really showed how it was easy for things to go wrong between us.Am I now an expert? No. However, I feel there are a lot of things I will be applying to all relationships going forward.I would recommend buying this book in a hard copy as it requires you to sometimes flip back and forth and that was a bit difficult to do on my Kindle.
  • I am anxiously attached and this has been an issue in almost all of my relationships. There were several times when I had lightbulb moments reading this book. I kept a journal while I read it and made notes throughout. I’m going to read it again so that I can better put the suggestions into practice. I wish that they discuss anxious-anxious relationships because I’ve been in a couple of those and found that I tend to get avoidant for whatever reason. But when I’m with an avoidant person (or even with a secure person in a long distance relationship, which I am at this moment) I become very anxious and preoccupied. I like how they include stories of other couples as examples. The entire book was very organized. That said, I feel that it could have been beefed up a bit with more examples of different situations. Otherwise, 5 stars.
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