Notes & Quotes: Attached by Amir Levine & Rachel Heller

The following are my favorite quotes from Amir Levine and Rachel Heller's Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment.

  1. If our partner fails to reassure us, we are programmed to continue our attempts to achieve closeness until the partner does.
  2. 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.
  3. Having a partner who is inconsistently available or supportive can be a truly demoralizing and debilitating experience that can literally stunt our growth and stymie our health.
  4. Keep in mind that when you're excited about someone, your objectivity is compromised and you tend to create a rosy picture of him or her. Anything that doesn't fit this picture fades into the background. In the initial stages of dating, however, it's important to pay equal attention to all messages coming through and address them securely. This will help you determine if the relationship is right for you and ensure it is going in a positive direction.
  5. 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 s/he pleases.
  6. By dividing attachment behavior along gender lines, we can fall into the common trap of equating avoidance with masculinity. Research findings, however, prove that there are many men who are far from being avoidant--they communicate freely, are loving and affectionate, do not retreat during conflict, and are consistently there for their partner. 
  7. One of the most important roles we play in our partners' lives is providing a secure base: creating the conditions that enable our partners to pursue their interests and explore the world in confidence. Brooke Feeney and Roxanne Thrush, of Carnegie Mellon University, in a study published in 2010, found that three specific behaviors underlie this broad term. You too can provide a secure base by adopting the following secure behaviors:
    1. Be available: Respond sensitively to their distress, 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.
    2. Don't interfere: Provide behind-the-scenes support for their endeavors. 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, micromanage, or undermine their confidence and abilities.
    3. Encourage: Provide encouragement and be accepting of their learning and personal growth goals. Boost their self-esteem.
  8. Suzanne Phillips, coauthor of the book Healing Together, describes our connection with our pets as a source of inspiration for our romantic relationships. In her writing, she points out that we tend to perceive our pets as selfless and loving despite their many misdemeanors: They wake us up at night, destroy our valuables, and demand our undivided attention, yet we tend to overlook these behaviors and feel positively toward them. In fact, our connection with our pets is an excellent example of a secure presence in our lives. We can tap into our attitudes toward our pets as a secure resource within us--we don't assume our pets are doing things purposely to hurt us, we don't hold grudges even when they eat something they shouldn't or make a mess, we still greet them warmly when we come home (even after a rough day at the office), and we stick by them no matter what.
  9. It's never too late to start using effective communication to improve your relationship. It's one of the most powerful tools secure people use in their everyday life, with their partner and kids, and at work. It can really transform the way you handle yourself with the people around you.
  10. The Five Principles of Effective Communication:
    1. Wear your heart on your sleeve.
    2. Focus on your needs.
    3. Be specific
    4. Don't blame.
    5. Be assertive and nonapologetic.
  11. Effective communication is not about highlighting the other person's shortcomings, and making accusations will quickly lead you away from the point and into a dueling match. Make sure to find a time when you're calm to discuss things. You'll find that attempting to use effective communication when you're on the verge of exploding is a contradiction in terms--you'll most likely sound angry and judgmental.
  12. Attachment theory shows us that these assumptions are unsubstantiated; all couples--even secure ones--have their fair share of fights. What does distinguish between couples and affect their satisfaction levels in their relationships is not how much they disagree, but how they disagree and what they disagree about. Attachment researchers have learned that conflicts can serve as an opportunity for couples to get closer and deeper their bond.
  13. Five Secure Principles for Resolving Conflict:
    1. Show basic concern for the other person's well-being.
    2. Maintain focus on the problem at hand.
    3. Refrain from generalizing the conflict. 
    4. Be willing to engage.
    5. Effectively communicate feelings and needs.
  14. Attachment theory shows us that our happiness is actually dependent on our mate's and vice versa. The two are inextricable.
  15. It's always more effective to assume the best in conflict situations. In fact, expecting the worst--which is typical of people with insecure attachment styles--often acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you assume your partner will act hurtfully or reject you, you automatically respond defensively--thus starting a vicious cycle of negativity.
  16. Don't lose sight of these facts:
    1. Your attachment needs are legitimate.
    2. You shouldn't feel bad for depending on the person you are closest to--it is part of your genetic makeup.
    3. A relationship, from an attachment perspective, should make you feel more self-confident and give you peace of mind. If it doesn't, this is a wake-up call!
    4. And, above all, remain true to your authentic self--playing games will only distance you from your ultimate goal of finding true happiness, be it with your partner or with someone else.