It’s a universal fact, that relationships can make or break us. As human beings we’re programmed to have relationships and depend on people. This includes friends, family, and romantic partners. But have you ever noticed why relationships sometimes suck?
For whatever reason, (Just kidding I know) my therapist decided to recommend me a great book called, “Attached” by Amir Levine, M.D., and Rachel S. F. Heller, M.A. which focuses on Adult attachment styles and how they affect relationships.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced or helped someone through a breakup, being stood up on a date or worse, endured a conversation with someone who only talks about themselves. You might’ve been the one behind the phone, anxiously waiting for a text back from that special someone. You can’t focus, your heart accelerates, and you feel crazy. Or you might be turned off by the idea of relationships, slowly distancing yourself from people to keep your independence. And if you can’t imagine acting like this, you might just be secure.
So are relationships supposed to be hard? Not necessarily, according to the book you probably haven’t found someone with a secure attachment. Levine and Heller describe the different attachment styles including, Secure, Avoidant and Anxious. They explain why relationships go bad, the importance of finding someone with a secure attachment, and share examples to distinguish attachments for individuals. Attachment styles are described as, “stable but plastic” they are consistent but can change. Although attachment styles can be linked to interactions with our parents during infancy, there are other factors to consider like environment and genes.
- The Secure – are comfortable with intimacy
- The Anxious – crave intimacy but worry about being loved
- The Avoidant – constantly minimizes closeness
And MOST importantly if you’re an animal lover, just know your pets are great examples of secure role models. They destroy everything and yet we love them.
Being vulnerable and recognizing your behavior and needs can be embarrassing for some but Levine and Heller emphasize the importance of communication. Effective communication can prevent unnecessary arguments while addressing your concerns. When I read this I thought, “Isn’t this common sense?” and perhaps it is, but for anxious and avoidant attachments this can be challenging in the moment.
Although this book is helpful in finding your attachment style, the advice given is focused on acceptance of an anxious or avoidant attachment style and showcases a secure attachment as the savior. This black and white thinking undermines the relationship issues secure attachments might develop due to the effects of anxious attachments. Further, this does not isolate the root of the problem for everyone because people are very complex. As you read this book, remember that attachment styles are patterns found in people but they are not identities. Overall, it’s a great book to help decipher your patterns and improve relationships.