Attached by Amir Levine is a book on attachment styles. It’s really great and a must read for anyone who wants to understand people and relationships.
- Bullet Summary
- Full Summary
- Real Life Applications
- Your happiness and well being will also depend on your partner, research proves it
- How well you will get along with your partner depends heavily on the attachment styles you both have
- Right alignment
Attached is based on the attachment theory, a very useful and still little known framework to understand relationship dynamics.
We’re Wired to Be Dependent
Most dating advice books saying you should not need a man or a woman are based on the wrong presupposition that we can function equally well on our own.
But that’s wrong.
The author cites John Bowlby work and says we have a genetically programmed need to be with someone. And that has nothing to do with how much we love ourselves or how fulfilled we are.
Once we get attached codependency kicks in automatically.
However, that doesn’t mean we become dependent and weaker. Quite the opposite.
The attachment systems is a patter of emotions and behavior that brings us close to our loved ones.
The attachment systems activates in children when their mother goes away and it stays active through crying and sobbing until she re-establishes contact.
The same happens with adults and their romantic partner.
All our pattern of emotions and behavior we utilize to get in touch again with our mother as children or to our partners are adults are called “protest behavior”.
The author says evolution shaped our attachment system and protest behavior because staying closer to our loved ones help us -and our children- to stay alive.
The Paradox: Dependency Makes Us Stronger
When we have a solid attachment with our romantic partner and we know they are there to support us and care for us, we become stronger.
A solid relationship is like having solid foundations.
We can reach out for the stars and go out in the world with more confidence. We feel more secure in taking risks and being more vulnerable.
And the opposite is true: if we are insecure about our partner, our relationship gobbles all our energies and fills us with with worries.
When we feel secure in our relationships, we feel more confident in our ourselves. A solid relationship allows us to take more risks
Types of Attachment Styles
50% are secure, 25% avoidant, 20% anxious, and the rest falls into a “disorganized” category (with unhealthy traits from both).
- Read here overview of attachment styles with examples
- Want and can be very close
- Fear partner doesn’t want the same
- Ge attached very (too) quickly
- Relationships takes lots of your energies
- Very sensitive to partner’s moods
- Spot moods early but are often wrong (but if they avoid overreacting they’re also more accurate)
- Experience many negative emotions
- Misbehave, say things you regret
- Feel there’s something wrong with them
It’s important to notice though that if your partner provides all the security and reassurance, anxious individuals will drop most of their insecurities.
That’s why anxious individuals are best with Secure.
- Naturally warm and loving
- Enjoy intimacy
- Not to worried about relationship up and downs
- Effectively communicate needs
- Good at support the partner
- Have a realistic view of blame
Read examples of secure attachment here:
- Puts independence and autonomy above all
- Want to be close but feels uncomfortable with too much intimacy
- Not worried about relationship up and downs
- Doesn’t open up
- Worried the relationship is “becoming a cage”
- Has an “ideal true love” they never meet
- Feel there’s something wrong with partners they’re with
- Tend to be less happy and satisfied in relationship
Here are examples of avoidant:
How Attachment Style Develop
Genes, life experience and how our parents raised us. Around 70-75% of adults remain the same attachment style during their life. But romantic experiences can change that.
Avoidant Deactivating Strategies
Studies suggest that it’s not true that avoidants don’t feel the emotions. Their attachment reactions still work under the hood, but they just are “better” at repressing them.
Indeed more studies reveal that when avoidants go through highly stressful events their defenses break and they seem to behave like anxious people behave.
These are the techniques avoidants use to avoid fully entertaining their feelings:
- Professing not being ready to commit but staying anyway
- Focusing on their partner’s imperfections
- Reminiscing about an ideal ex
- Flirting with others
- Moving away when things are going great
- Going into impossible relationships (long distance, married partners etc.)
- Keeping secrets
- Avoiding physical closeness
Once avoidants break up, they can sometimes see the truth and how good their relationship really was.
Attachment Styles in Relationships
Secure can date with both avoidants and anxious and help them overcome their limitations -as long as they stay secure-. Anxious become less anxious with secure partners indeed.
Anxious with avoidants is one of the worst and it’s very common. While there are less avoidants than secure, they are more often on the market because they have fewer long lasting relationship. And they bounce back sooner, so they go back to the dating pool much quicker.
Avoidants and avoidants don’t usually date each other. They lack the emotional pull to keep together (and, I might add: they don’t get the ego kick of being in control of their relationship).
How Different Styles Deal With Conflict
Only secure people approach conflict openly.
Anxious are wary of their partners’ response and can get scared about the whole relationship trajectory. When they engage in conflict, they exaggerate with strong accusations, crying or using an angry style of silent treatment.
Avoidants also fear their partner won’t be there when they need them. But to deal with these thoughts they distance themselves and find fault with their partners.
Real Life Applications
Learn your attachment
The example will probably help you to understand your attachment style. If not, here’s a quiz.
Notice your partner attachment
Notice what type of attachment your partners has. Unless you’re both secure it will make you understand where most of your conflict stem from.
Date with attachment in mind
If you’re single, look for a partner with a complementary attachment style (read Find Love for a summary of all the best dating books).
Understand your limitations and move towards a secure style as much as you can
Ask your partner to change
Explain to your partner attachment styles and what it means for your relationship
Pick a great relationship
Don’t be ashamed to “need” a great relationship. That’s what human biology is all about. Worry instead about finding a great partner
No Gender Data
The author says the stereotype of women being mostly anxious and men mostly avoidant is a stereotype. But it fails to provide numbers and that was a big question mark for me.
I researched it and numbers seem to say there are more avoidant men and more anxious women (read a study of middle school students here and overview of studies here).
I wonder if the author missed it in an access of political correctness? I do not know that..
What a fantastic book Attached is. It took me a while to finish it because I wanted to make sure I was absorbing everything out of it
With lots of studies and authors mentioned, Attached gives me the impression of a book I can trust
Great Examples / Workshops
Many good examples, great quizzes and
Amir Levine with Attached opened a new world of understanding for me.
I am deeply grateful to Amir for this book.
Allow me to gush for one more sentence: Attached goes straight into one of my favorite books of all times when it comes to people and psychology.
If you have never heard of attachment theory before, I recommend you grab the book, study it, and then further expand on it as well.