- File Size: 2212 KB
- Print Length: 304 pages
- Publisher: TarcherPerigee; Reprint edition (December 30, 2010)
- Publication Date: December 30, 2010
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0049H9AVU
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
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- #8 in Love & Romance (Kindle Store)
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find--and Keep-- Love Kindle Edition
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1,233 customer reviews
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The deeper issue is that the book, perhaps in an effort to present an oversimplified version of attachment theory to the layperson, does not make it clear that “avoidant”, “secure” and “anxious” are patterns of relating *between people* rather than something that lives within people as an essential identity. These are dimensions, not categories, so people can locate their responses along a continuum on the avoidant and anxious dimensions depending on many contextual and relational factors. It is common, perhaps expected, for relationships to suffer from maladaptive patterns over time (it's like a car that needs maintenance) and these are fixable when both partners own their piece and do the work. Unfortunately, this book discourages partners who have taken on a more anxious role in a pattern from locating any internal ownership and suggests that if they roam the world and find one of these magical partners called “secures”, all their problems will be resolved. This is not any different than the trite self-help advice we have heard before about finding a partner with x,y,z characteristics as a solution to internal problems, just dressed up in the sexy, recently prominent language of attachment theory. Rather than locating the problem in the pattern and suggesting that changing your relationship to a partner is possible with ownership on both sides, the book suggests that the problem lives in the partner.
I have sat with many couples during therapy where one partner has taken on a more anxious strategy and the other a more avoidant strategy. Many of these couples love each other deeply and are able to fix the pattern between them. This book seems to suggest that these roles are somehow essential traits rather than strategies that can be modified, and discourages a focus on fixing the pattern. This book further seems to suggest that the attraction between such partners rests on a confusion of chaotic feelings that come from attachment distress with genuine love, which is very misleading and does not do justice to the meaningful and deep connection partners in this pattern have to each other.
Another very puzzling and simplistic suggestion in the book is that through conscious intention, you can somehow cause yourself to be interested in partners who do not register to your unconscious mind as exciting or familiar in any way. Every person has an early imprint or working model of what they find attractive and exciting, based on experiences with those closest to them. People who register as boring and unexciting to us do so for an important reason—they are people whose “crazy” does not fit our “crazy” in a way that has the potential to heal us and teach us the most important lessons about ourselves that we need to learn. For example, if one tends to take on anxious roles in relationships with partners who then respond more avoidantly, there are a host of important questions to work through that won’t be resolved, but simply replicated, by switching partners. Such a person, to grow, needs to own that connecting to loving and desiring emotions is only possible for them at a distance, and they need to look inward to figure out what that is all about in order to stop acting in those ways. Could such a person take in affection and care when a partner tries to come close to them, or will such a person in turn react avoidantly themselves? How many times have we seen an anxious person turn avoidant when caring and available partners come their way? In this way, the book fails to address that there are deeper dynamics responsible for attraction that cannot be resolved by switching partners and that “anxious” and “avoidant” are surface presentations of underlying dynamics that need to be worked through to be resolved. For example, if one felt unloved and constrained by a controlling parent, happiness for that individual comes from finding a partner who at once resembles that familiar parent yet who is willing to expand and offer autonomy. What’s crucial is that the person in question does not simply desire autonomy from any random person— they desire autonomy from someone whom they experienced as controlling. And you can bet your life that this individual will keep reenacting this scenario by picking controlling partners and then struggle to twist autonomy out of them. Both pieces are important— the familiar and the missing quality. The best chance for growth and contentment comes when partners who are excited by a familiar unconscious bond both own their part of the pattern and agree to do the work together, something this book barely encourages.
Was I wrong.
And I hate to be wrong. Thanks, Dr. D.
General Information: This book is an easy read. It's not that stuff you need to be a rocket-scientist to figure out - in layman terms it briefs you on the broader different styles of attachment: secure, anxious and avoidant. The book helps you determine what kind of attachment styles you have via reading examples of others attachment styles and there are also some quizzes if you're still not sure, all of which I found useful. I really liked that the authors presented examples of scenarios of attachment styles and encouraged the reader to read through the scenarios and guess the kind of attachment styles that were presented based on the knowledge we had already been given in the earlier part of the book. I find that a helpful way to learn.
Given that I was not into reading this in the first place - the fact that it was light reading, interesting and at times fun - made me very attuned to what this book had to say. I agree it wasn't super in-depth but I don't fault this book for that because if it was super in depth I would have not even read it. My psychiatrist knows what the heck she is talking about and she choose this book for a reason - so I have zero complaints. I think she was even impressed with how much I was able to take away after reading it in one day.
This book taught me a lot about myself. With women, I have anxious attachments - stemming from an unpredictable childhood. I pretty much tend to gravitate toward any one who acts maternal with me and cling to her. This isn't necessarily about romantic attachment for me, it spelled out a lot of patterns with all the people I have in my life: from friends, family members, partners and even my doctors.
I had started to notice that I was feeling unsettled in my relationship with my fiance. I was getting annoyed at everything he did. Little things, like the way he chewed. I would get annoyed when he would text me and completely ignore him for hours at a time. Until I read this book, I didn't realize the problem was me and that with men I have a very avoidant attachment style. I was able to take the criticism to heart without feeling persecuted because the book doesn't make you feel that way even though avoidants can come off as very very harsh and cruel and indifferent.
I'm now able to communicate more effectively, recognize my own patterns of behavior, identify that I am responsible for my own actions and feelings and now I feel a real sense of control and independence because I have that knowledge. I have that security. I can reciprocate with my fiance now and not be so dismissive of him and I'm able to be a bit more open without feeling that he's trying to stop me from being my own person or that he's suffocating me.
I highly recommend this book. If you want to delve super deep into this attachment thing - some other reviewers mentioned additions and alternatives but I wouldn't. I am a very learned person, a very intelligent person and I didn't need anything more in depth than this book to help me to start to recognize patterns that needed to change. I think this book is best served to people who can admit where they are on the attachment continuum. I happen to be at a place in my life now, thanks to my psychiatrist and therapist, where I am able to let my guard down a bit and accept things that are difficult for me to accept.. Maybe even just six months ago I wouldn't have been ready to admit this. But given my ability to be ready and my desire to make things right in my life now that I have a child - I didn't need a guide book to tell me how to figure out the things I needed to do to fix the areas that needed work in my life regarding my attachment styles.
I disagree with the reviews that claim this book doesn't offer us any insight as to why we are the way we are and what we can do about it. Several times this book mentions the theories of infant and other kinds of attachments but does say that it's not the purpose of this book to delve into that. That's good enough for me. I was able to discern from the minimal but powerful examples they give of the attachment styles of infants to their caregivers to know why I am the way I am and I wrote a whole essay about it to share with my psychiatrist.... thanks to this book.
As for what we can do about it - this was also something I didn't need a road map for. This is going to sound pretty darn simplistic but maybe that's just because it is. Kind of just do the opposite of what you're doing....???? That is how this has been working for me, anyway. But of course, I relied on the examples in the book to help direct my behavior without needing a "HOW TO" direction stamped across the page. You rely on your intuition. You rely on your knowledge. You rely on your empathy and most of all you rely on your willingness to enact change.
The examples in this book were definitely not apples to apples with how I am with my fiance - but it was enough of an eye-opening experience for me to say to myself: "Oh geez..... I do things like this all the time and this is how my fiance must feel. He's just reacting to my avoidance. If I start to try to be less avoidant and give him a little bit more security by acknowledging him maybe he won't feel so frustrated or taken advantage of or hurt."
And that's what I started to do. I started to recognize the behaviors I have that are avoidant and started to replace them with more healthy behaviors. At first this wasn't easy. I felt like I was losing a part of myself by giving in to him but then I realized that's silly and I went back to the book for guidance and reassurance and that's when I decided to feel more secure and in control. I'm far more independent by making the right, healthy choices for our relationship than I am being a slave to my fear of dependency. I really feel empowered by this and I thank the authors for putting this out there in a way that isn't complicated but that is so very helpful.