Attached: Are you Anxious, Avoidant or Secure? How the science of adult attachment can help you find – and keep – love
by Dr Amir Levin and Rachel Heller
In the Drawing Down the Moon office copy of Attached, on the inside cover, there is a scrawled note to all its future readers: ‘Essential reading for all DDM matchmakers!’
Well, I’ve certainly never been one to refuse homework!
Written by Dr Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, Attached uses the psychology of attachment theory to help the reader examine their adult relationships and the way they behave within them. One can reflect past relationships or current ones, and better prepare for future ones.
To oversimplify a complex book and thesis, here is the crux of Levine and Heller’s argument. People, and therefore the relationships they have, can be split into three categories on a spectrum. You can be anxious, where you blame yourself for relationship woes and feel needy for wanting more intimacy. You can be secure, where you are comfortable with the level of intimacy you require from a partner. Finally, you can be avoidant, where you value independence over intimacy and resent a partner who might ‘trap’ you in a relationship. (There is also a rare classification of ‘anxious-avoidant’, but since the authors don’t go into that in too much detail, neither will I.)
It helps that Levine and Heller anecdotal evidence to explain sometimes complex theories. It’s a way of using these theories in real life and showing scenarios that we otherwise might not think to apply them to, like arguments over dishwashers or holidays or ex-girlfriends on Facebook. There are also charts and quizzes, which help the reader identify which attachment style they or their partners are.
This book goes beyond our stereotypes of ‘needy partners’ or ‘commitment-phobes’ and tries to remove blame from the equation, whether directed at the self or the partner. Attached argues that the desire for intimacy is not a weakness, and it is the responsibility of each partner to ensure that their emotional needs are met.
It’s far from a perfect piece. More sympathy seems to be given to Anxious people than Avoidant – which I suspect may be because, since the Anxious partners are more likely to attempt self-development in the quest for love, Levine and Heller assumed their readers were more likely to be Anxious. The book also seems to suggest that Secure partners are near-perfect in a relationship, something which I certainly doubt! The truth is that attachment theory, and this book does so helpfully explain it, is a vital part to understanding our adult relationships – but just one part.
It’s a valuable book, in that it forces its readers to re-examine their relationships. It’s not a perfect fix – there are plenty of relationships issues that won’t be solvable just by identifying their attachment styles – but it goes to the core of our human interactions. It’s well-written, easy to understand, and sometimes uncomfortable in its accuracy.
Attached certainly is essential reading – I would only argue for everyone, not just for our Drawing Down the Moon office!