Attached – Amir Levine and Rachel SF Heller

This book taught me so much. I have always known that I have an anxious attachment style but the authors reveal how an understanding of attachment theory can help find and sustain love. There is a lot to learn about yourself, your partner, your relationships, and your friendships from this book. Levine and Heller offer readers advice on how to navigate their relationships more wisely given their attachment style and that of their partner.

This book takes an incredibly insightful look at the science behind love. It offers readers a road map for building stronger, more fulfilling connections. Though the book is filtered through the Anxious lens as the authors are sympathetic to Anxious types, congratulatory of Secures, and perhaps a little cold towards Avoidants, I still think everyone could benefit from reading this. If nothing else, it will give you perspective on your relationships and how you can better handle and understand them.

Highlights

  1. People with each of these attachment styles differ in: their view of intimacy and togetherness, the way they deal with conflict, their attitude towards sex, their ability to communicate their wishes and needs, their expectations from their partner, and the relationship.
  2. People with a secure statement style know how to communicate their own expectations and respond to their partner’s needs effectively without having to resort to protest behavior.
  3. 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.
  4. Getting attached means that our brain becomes wired to seek the support of our partner by ensuring the partner’s psychological and physical proximity. If our partner fails to reassure us, we are programmed to continue our attempts to achieve closeness until the partner does.
  5. Attachment principles teach us that most people are only as needy as their unmet needs. When their emotional needs are met, and the earlier the better, they usually turn their attention outward.
  6. The more effectively dependent people are on one another, the more independent and daring they become.
  7. We live in a culture that seems to scorn basic needs for intimacy, closeness, and especially dependency.
  8. Your happiness is something that should come from within and should not be dependent on your lover or mate. Your well-being is not their responsibility, and theirs is not yours.
  9. You should learn not to allow your inner peace to be disturbed by the person you are closest to.
  10. The ideal relationship is one between two self-sufficient people who unite in a mature, respectful way while maintaining clear boundaries.
  11. New patterns of behavior kick in regardless of how independent we are and despite our conscious wills. Once we choose a partner, there is no question about whether dependency exists or not. It always does.
  12. All three attachment styles are programmed to connect with a special someone.
  13. Avoidants have attachment needs but actively suppress them.
  14. It turns out that the ability to step into the world on our own often stems from the knowledge that there is someone beside us whom we can count on – this is the dependency paradox.
  15. If you want to take the road to independence and happiness, find the right person to depend on and travel down it with that person.
  16. And if we lack that sense of security? If we are unsure whether the person closest to us, our romantic partner, truly believes in us and supports us and will be there for us in times of need, we’ll find it much harder to maintain focus and engage in life.
  17. When our partner is unable to meet our basic attachment needs, we experience a chronic sense of disquiet and tension that leaves us more exposed to various ailments.
  18. Our partners powerfully affect our ability to thrive in the world.
  19. Not only do they influence how we feel about ourselves but also the degree to which we believe in ourselves and whether we will attempt to achieve our hopes and dreams.
  20. Having a partner who fulfills our intrinsic attachment needs and feels comfortable acting as a secure base and safe haven can help us remain emotionally and physically healthier and live longer.
  21. Having a partner who is inconsistently available or supportive can be a truly demoralizing and debilitating experience.
  22. All happiness or unhappiness solely depends upon the quality of the object to which we are attached by love.
  23. If you have an anxious attachment style, you possess a unique ability to sense when your relationship is threatened. Even a slight hint that something may be wrong will activate your attachment system, and once it’s activated, you are unable to calm down until you get a clear indication from your partner that he or she is truly there for you and the relationship is safe.
  24. People with an anxious attachment style tend to jump to conclusions very quickly, and they do, they tend to misinterpret people’s emotional state.
  25. If you just wait a little longer before reacting and jumping to conclusions, you will have an uncanny ability to decipher the world around you and use it to your advantage. But shoot from the hip, and you’re all over the place making misjudgments and hurting yourself.
  26. Protest behavior is any action that tries to establish contact with your partner and get their attention.
  27. Protest behavior and activating strategies can cause you to act in ways that are harmful to the relationship. It is very important to learn to recognize them when they happen.
  28. Even if your rational mind knows you shouldn’t be with this person, your attachment system doesn’t always comply.
  29. Once your attachment system is activated, you will find it much harder to “turn it off” if you have an anxious attachment style.
  30. Avoidant individuals actually prefer anxiously attached people.
  31. Anxious women are more likely to date avoidant men.
  32. People who seek closeness are attracted to people who want to push them away. Why?
  33. The anxious types find that their perception of wanting more intimacy than their partner can provide is confirmed, as is their anticipation of ultimately being let down by significant others.
  34. He/she can enjoy the thrill and closeness you naturally project when you are together without having to consider your needs for intimacy and togetherness the rest of the time. By being someone you’re not, you’re allowing another to be with you on his or her own terms and come and go as she/he pleases.
  35. Don’t let people make you feel guilty for acting “needy” or “dependent.” Don’t be ashamed of feeling incomplete when you’re not in a relationship, or for wanting to be close to your partner and to depend on him.
  36. Anxious thinking: You tend to assume that meeting someone suitable is an unlikely occurrence, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
  37. The more you meet, the greater the chances you’ll find the one who is a good, match for you.
  38. As you know, once your attachment system is activated, you begin to crave the other person’s closeness and will do anything in your power to make it work even before you really get to know him/her and decide whether you like that person or not.
  39. Your system will no longer get so easily activated by one person because it will be busy evaluating the availability of a lot of different people, and you won’t be as likely to obsess about anyone in particular.
  40. You don’t have to tiptoe around or hide your true feelings. This allows you to see whether someone is able to meet your needs before you reach the point of no return.
  41. A deactivating strategy is any behavior or thought that is used to squelch intimacy.
  42. Avoidants have the need for closeness in a relationship but make a concerted effort to repress it.
  43. In addition to creating distance between you and your partner, it can also confuse him/her; when your partner hears how you miss your ex, or how long for the perfect soulmate, it leads him/her to believe that you’re craving true closeness and intimacy, when in fact you’re driving it away.
  44. Tapping into the secure mindset: Be available – allow them to be dependent on you when they feel the need, check in with them from time to time, and provide comfort when things go wrong. Don’t interfere – help in a way that leaves them with the initiative and the feeling of power. Allow them to do their own thing without trying to take over the situation. Encourage – boost their self-esteem and provide encouragement and be accepting of their learning and personal growth goals.
  45. Never take the blame for a date’s offensive behavior. When a partner acts inconsiderately or hurtfully, secures acknowledge that it says a lot about the other person rather than about themselves.
  46. If you are able to maintain your secure frame of mind. If you find yourself becoming less secure, not only do you lose a priceless gift, but you also experience less happiness and satisfaction in your relationships.
  47. If you’re secure, one of the reasons you’re able to maintain a satisfying relationship with someone who has an insecure attachment style is because he or she will gradually become more secure as a result of being with you.
  48. The good news is that people with a secure attachment style have healthy instincts and usually catch on very early that someone is not cut out to be their partner.
  49. The bad news is that when secure people do, on occasion, enter into a negative relationship, they might not know when to call it quits – especially if it’s a long-term, committed relationship in which they feel responsible for their partner’s happiness.
  50. Conflict is often left unresolved because the resolution itself creates too much intimacy.
  51. The anxious partner is usually the one who has to make concessions and accept the rules imposed by the avoidant partner.
  52. They have chosen to let go of the dream of being truly intimate with their partners and have found a way to live with limited togetherness. They compromise. But make no mistake: the compromise is in no way mutual; it is in fact wholly one-sided.
  53. They have decided to change their expectations and reduce conflict to tolerable proportions.
  54. Do we recommend this route? It depends. If you’re in an ongoing relationship riddled with intimacy clashes that you have not been able to resolve, and yet you want to remain in the bond for whatever reason, then yes, this is the only way to live in relative peace.
  55. Studies have found that the same areas in the brain that light up in imaging scans when we break a leg are activated when we split up with our mate. As part of a reaction to a breakup, our brain experiences the departure of an attachment figure in a similar way to that in which it registers physical pain.
  56. Only when every single cell in their body is completely convinced that there is no chance that their partner will change or that they will ever reunite will they be able to deactivate and let go.
  57. Your attachment system gets activated more when you feel bad about yourself and an activated attachment system means wanting to renew contact even more.
  58. Remind yourself that your attachment system is distorting your perspective on the relationship.
  59. Know that no matter how much pain you’re going through now, it will pass.
  60. Expressing your needs and expectations to your partner in a direct, nonaccusatory manner is an incredibly powerful tool.
  61. If the other person shows a sincere wish to understand your needs and put your well-being first, your future together has promise. If he or she brushes your concerns aside as insignificant or makes you feel inadequate, foolish, or self-indulgent, you can conclude that this person doesn’t sincerely have your best interests in mind and you are probably incompatible.
  62. Avoid protest behavior by taking a leap of faith and adopting effective communication.
  63. When you perceive the relationship as something fragile and unstable that can collapse at any moment; these thoughts and assumptions make it hard for you to express your needs effectively.
  64. When it comes to conflict, it’s not always about who did what to whom, how to compromise, or even how to express yourself more effectively. Sometimes, understanding the basic biology of attachment helps you prevent conflict before it even happens.
  65. The next time you decide to skip the Sunday morning cuddle in bed for a chance to catch up on your work – think again. This small act might be enough to immunize your relationship against conflict for the next few days.
  66. For the anxious, conflict can trigger very basic concerns about their partner’s responsiveness to their needs and about rejection and abandonment.
  67. Insecure assumptions interfere with conflict resolution. Specifically, being centered on your own needs and hurts can cause a lot of trouble. Fear that someone isn’t as emotionally involved as you or doesn’t want to be as close as you’d like to be, is understandable.
  68. Don’t assume that you understand what your partner means. When in doubt, ask.
  69. A single fight is not a relationship breaker.
  70. Don’t assume you are to blame for your partner’s bad moon. It is most likely not because of you.
  71. If you haven’t told him/her what’s on your mind, s/he doesn’t know.
  72. Relationships should not be left to chance.
  73. Relationships are one of the most rewarding of human experiences, above and beyond other gifts that life has to offer.
  74. The first misconception is that everyone has the same capacity for intimacy.
  75. After all, your most basic needs often go unmet, and love alone isn’t enough to make the relationship work.
  76. But when we’re in love and want to continue a relationship, we tend to ignore the contradictory messages we’re getting.
  77. We believe that every person deserves to experience the benefits of a secure bond. When our partner acts as our secure base and emotional anchor, we derive strength and encouragement to go out into the world and make the most of ourselves. he or she is there to help us become the best person we can be, as we are for them.
  78. You shouldn’t feel bad for depending on the person you are closest to – it is part of your genetic makeup.
  79. A relationship, from an attachment perspective, should make you feel more self-confident and give you peace of mind.
Attachment principles teach us that most people are only as needy as their unmet needs.
*I take no credit for any of these points.

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