If you want a book that helps explain how you view relationships, Attached – The New Science of Adult Attachment by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, is a good read. It will help you put your relationships, past and present, into a comprehensive perspective by which you can then predict how your future relationships will work out. When you can predict the outcome, within a reasonable certainty, you can then control it. And if you can control it, you will have a much happier relationship.
This book came to me by way of a friend, whose counselor had recommended it to her. At first I was skeptical, not reading it for many months. But the book kept staring at me and I slowly felt the need to see what this book had to say.
The introduction has a good overview of the situation – people feel trapped in a dead-end relationship, whether just starting out or locked into one through marriage.
It then discusses the main thesis of the book: we all have one of 3 main attachment styles, or a mixture of 2 of them.
- Secure: 50% of all people; “feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving”
- Avoidant: 25% of all people; “equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness”
- Anxious: 20% of all people; “crave intimacy, are often preoccupied with their relationships, and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back
- Disorganized: 3% – 5%
Are attachment styles dictated by nature, nurture or both? That is, are we born with this disposition, learn it through childhood or is it a blend? The authors contend that it was initially thought to be nurture, but that research has shown it to be a mixture.
There are plenty of real life anecdotes to illustrate the book’s main points and demonstrate quite well that attachment theory has great explanatory power. Thoughts, behaviors and and reactions can be explained and predicted.
Once you understand the 3 attachments types, you see in each story how one type interacts with another type, which is the source of the conflict, then read on to see how to resolve it and prevent it from becoming a problem.
What do people do when they are anxious or avoidant? Protest behavior. These are actions that are intended to punish the offending partner, such as ignoring someone for extended amounts of time in retaliation for being hurt. That would be the avoidant type.
An anxious type would do the opposite. In return for being ignored, an anxious type would call or message repeatedly to the point of being a nuisance to get the person’s attention.
This book aims to bring about greater satisfaction, reconciliation and even prevention: avoiding a relationship that does not work well due to type incompatibility.