Review: Attached by Dr. A. Levine, & R.S.F Heller

Attached was given to me by a partner whose opinion I truly value, and although it could be seen as self-serving for her to ask me to read it as we were going through challenging times, I could see that it was important to her so I did so anyway. Almost straight off the bat I felt triggered by what I was reading, like I was being targeted and the reason things weren’t working was purely because of me.

Attached breaks down the way you approach relationships down into three types; Secure; Anxious; and Avoidant. At the start of the book I felt like the personality type of Avoidant was speaking directly to me, like I was solely to blame for things not working. It wasn’t until I got further in, and more real-life examples were used, that I felt I was more a mixture of the personality types. Interestingly, later in the book they go on to say that every few years we move between these types, which more-or-less disproves their argument, who’s to say how many other external factors were influencing your actions.

I’m not entirely convinced that the book is of any real value as I don’t think any one person can be painted with one brush, but I do think the signs to pay attention to in future partners was beneficial, as well as their advice for defusing situations. Believe me when I say, I’m the first person to point out my flaws, but I think sometimes as much as we think we want something the time just isn’t right. Maybe I’m making excuses for my avoidant behaviour, but I do also consider myself to be quite self-aware and the book really doesn’t take that into consideration. I think as lovely as it is to have scientists try break down relationships and psychology, I’m not entirely convinced that the authors even believe what they are saying, or maybe I’m just triggered by the fact that they seem to think almost any relationship is to be worked on, and that if you’re Avoidant you’re more or less going to ruin every relationship forever.

My personal opinion is that every relationship has something to teach us, and when the time is right, the right person (avoiding the use of term “the one”), will step into our lives. Life isn’t as straight forward as the authors make it out to be, I feel like it was written for the types that never left their home towns (not there is anything wrong with that). If anything, this book preaches the opposite, a “find someone who kind of fits and make it work” mentality. Personally, I think the “make it work” mentality is fine, but only provided that it’s something both of you are actually interested in doing, and that it’s a realistic goal.

“It’s important to remember that even with effective communication, some problems won’t be solved immediately. What’s vital is your partner’s response–whether he or she is concerned about your well-being, has your best interests in mind, and is willing to work on things.”
― Amir Levine

Funnily enough, and maybe it’s just to appear out-of-the-box, the authors actively disagree with the idea that you cannot love someone else until you first love yourself. Instead, they see individuals as being broken, and that only to heal is through a loving relationship, even though every example of a person finding a happy relationship in their anecdotes was first exposed to some sort of trauma during previous relationships, and that only through realising they were worthy of more did they find something healthier. A point that the authors seem to have completely neglected to notice.

In short, I think it is kind of worth a read should you stumble across a copy of it as there are some useful tools for defusing situations, and tips for understanding potential partners’ actions, such as being avoidant and playing games. However, I definitely wouldn’t take their scientific approach to something so experiential without first asking yourself if it is really what you want, the beauty of life is in the experience and that it’s what you make of it, the same goes for relationships. We know that the grass isn’t always greener, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be selective of the grass you choose to water.

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