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Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find--and Keep--Love

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find--and Keep--Love

3.9 36
by Amir Levine

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Is there a science to love?

In this groundbreaking book, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Amir Levine and psychologist Rachel S. F. Heller reveal how an understanding of attachment theory-the most advanced relationship science in existence today-can help us find and sustain love. Attachment theory forms the basis for many bestselling books on the


Is there a science to love?

In this groundbreaking book, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Amir Levine and psychologist Rachel S. F. Heller reveal how an understanding of attachment theory-the most advanced relationship science in existence today-can help us find and sustain love. Attachment theory forms the basis for many bestselling books on the parent/child relationship, but there has yet to be an accessible guide to what this fascinating science has to tell us about adult romantic relationships-until now.

Attachment theory owes its inception to British psychologist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby, who in the 1950s examined the tremendous impact that our early relationships with our parents or caregivers has on the people we become. Also central to attachment theory is the discovery that our need to be in a close relationship with one or more individuals is embedded in our genes.

In Attached, Levine and Heller trace how these evolutionary influences continue to shape who we are in our relationships today. According to attachment theory, every person behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways:

*ANXIOUS people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner's ability to love them back.

*AVOIDANT people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.

*SECURE people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.

Attached guides readers in determining what attachment style they and their mate (or potential mates) follow. It also offers readers a wealth of advice on how to navigate their relationships more wisely given their attachment style and that of their partner. An insightful look at the science behind love, Attached offers readers a road map for building stronger, more fulfilling connections.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
According to psychiatrist and neuroscientist Levine and social psychologist Heller, one’s adult romantic partnerships have patterns similar to those one has as a child with one’s parents. Our individual attachment styles are thus, they conclude, hardwired into our brains. Focusing on three main attachment styles (secure, anxious, and avoidant), the authors explain the biological facts behind our relationship needs, teach readers how to identify their own and loved ones’ attachment styles, and warn of the emotional price of connecting with someone with drastically different intimacy needs. Teaching readers communication skills to breach these differences, the authors stress that people have very different capacities for intimacy, and that partners must ensure each other’s emotional well-being. Chock-full of tips, questionnaires, and case studies, this is a solidly researched and intriguing approach to the perennial trials of “looking for love in all the right places” and improving existing relationships. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews

There is a scientific theory behind the ways we approach and develop adult relationships, write neuroscientist Levine and social psychologist Heller, and understanding how it workswill help you find the right mate—or improve your existing partnership.

Adult attachment theory, which was pioneered in the 1950s by British psychoanalyst John Bowlby, posits that human beings are genetically predisposed toward coupling, andthat a secure partnership is essential to our emotional and physical well-being. According to the authors, we all have a particular "attachment style" that governs our actions and attitudes toward romantic interaction.The ideal, and most prevalent,attachment style is "secure." A person with a secure style feels that his partner provides a loving and supportive "secure base," and that he can provide that same emotional security in return. The authors suggest that human beings are by nature social creatures, and that even when we crave independence, it's the presence of a secure partner that allows us to explore the world on our own—this is called the "dependency paradox." The other two attachment styles, "anxious" and "avoidant," are the major focus of this book. In clear terms, Levine and Heller explain how we can diagnose our attachment style and what steps can be taken to combat its negative effects. For example, someone with an anxious attachment style has a different view toward intimacy and communication (anxious types tend to obsess over relationships and worry about their affection being reciprocated) than someone with an avoidant attachment style (who tend to minimize closeness and undermine emotional connection). The analysis of each attachment style is accompanied by a set of behavior patterns and real-life anecdotes to provide the reader with relatable social context. The authors write that, despite one's age or experience, change is possible, and with the right mind-set, even those who feel defeated by dating—or are stuck in an unsatisfying relationship—can find a solid partnership.

A practical, enjoyable guide to forming rewarding romantic relationships.

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Penguin Publishing Group
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Table of Contents


Title Page

Copyright Page



INTRODUCTION - The New Science of Adult Attachment

Chapter 1. - Decoding Relationship Behavior

Chapter 2. - Dependency Is Not a Bad Word


PART ONE - Your Relationship Toolkit—Deciphering Attachment Styles

Chapter 3. - Step One: What Is My Attachment Style?

Chapter 4. - Step Two: Cracking the Code—What Is My Partner’s Style?


PART TWO - The Three Attachment Styles in Everyday Life

Chapter 5. - Living with a Sixth Sense for Danger: The Anxious Attachment Style

Chapter 6. - Keeping Love at Arm’s Length: The Avoidant Attachment Style

Chapter 7. - Getting Comfortably Close: The Secure Attachment Style


PART THREE - When Attachment Styles Clash

Chapter 8. - The Anxious-Avoidant Trap

Chapter 9. - Escaping the Anxious-Avoidant Trap: How the Anxious-Avoidant ...

Chapter 10. - When Abnormal Becomes the Norm: An Attachment Guide to Breaking Up


PART FOUR - The Secure Way—Sharpening Your Relationship Skills

Chapter 11. - Effective Communication: Getting the Message Across

Chapter 12. - Working Things Out: Five Secure Principles for Dealing with Conflict








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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England


Copyright © 2010 by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the authors’ rights. Purchase only authorized editions.


Most Tarcher/Penguin books are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchase for sales promotions, premiums, fund-raising, and educational needs. Special books or book excerpts also can be created to fit specific needs. For details, write Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Special Markets, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Levine, Amir.

Attached : the new science of adult attachment and how it can help you find—and keep—love / Amir Levine and Rachel Heller.

p. cm.

ISBN: 9781101475164

1. Attachment behavior. 2. Interpersonal relations. 3. Intimacy (Psychology).
I. Heller, Rachel, date. II. Title.




Neither the publisher nor the authors are engaged in rendering professional advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures, and suggestions contained in this book are not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician. All matters regarding your health require medical supervision. Neither the authors nor the publisher shall be liable or responsible for any loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestion in this book.


While the authors have made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the authors assume any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

To my father, who taught me how to dive into
the biggest waves, and to my mother, who made
scientific discovery part of growing up


To my family


The New Science of Adult Attachment


Decoding Relationship Behavior

Only two weeks into dating this guy and already I’m making myself miserable worrying that he doesn’t find me attractive enough and obsessing about whether or not he’s going to call! I know that once again I’ll manage to turn all my fears about not being good enough into a self-fulfilling prophecy and ruin yet another chance at a relationship!

What’s wrong with me? I’m a smart, good-looking guy with a successful career. I have a lot to offer. I’ve dated some terrific women, but inevitably, after a few weeks I lose interest and start to feel trapped. It shouldn’t be this hard to find someone I’m compatible with.

I’ve been married to my husband for years and yet feel completely alone. He was never one to discuss his emotions or talk about the relationship, but things have gone from bad to worse. He stays at work late almost every weeknight and on weekends he’s either at the golf course with friends or watching the sports channel on TV. There’s just nothing to keep us together. Maybe I’d be better off alone.

Each of these problems is deeply painful, touching upon the innermost core of people’s lives. And yet no one explanation or solution fits the bill. Each case seems unique and personal; each stems from an endless number of possible root causes. Deciphering them would require a deep acquaintance with all the people involved. Past history, previous relationships, and personality type are just a few of the avenues that a therapist would need to pursue. This, at least, is what we, as clinicians in the field of mental health, were taught and believed, until we made a new discovery—one that provided a straightforward explanation for all three problems described above and many more. The story of this discovery, and what came after it, is what this book is about.


A few years ago, our close friend Tamara started dating someone new:


I first noticed Greg at a cocktail party at a friend’s house. He was unbelievably good-looking, and I found the fact that I caught his eye very flattering. A few days later we went out for dinner with some other people, and I couldn’t resist the glimmer of excitement in his eyes when he looked at me. But what I found most enticing were his words and an implicit promise of togetherness that he conveyed. The promise of not being alone. He said things like “Tamara, you don’t have to be home all by yourself, you can come and work over at my place,” “You can call me any time you like.” There was comfort in these statements: The comfort of belonging to someone, of not being alone in the world. If I’d only listened carefully, I could have easily heard another message that was incongruent with this promise, a message that made it clear that Greg feared getting too close and was uncomfortable with commitment. Several times he’d mentioned that he’d never had a stable relationship—that for some reason he always grew tired of his girlfriends and felt the need to move on.

Though I could identify these issues as potentially problematic, at the time I didn’t know how to correctly gauge their implications. All I had to guide me was the common belief that many of us grow up with: The belief that love conquers all. And so I let love conquer me. Nothing was more important to me than being with him. Yet at the same time the other messages persisted about his inability to commit. I shrugged them off, confident that with me, things would be different. Of course, I was wrong. As we got closer, his messages got more erratic and everything started to fall apart; he began telling me that he was too busy to meet on this night or that. Sometimes he’d claim that his entire work week looked “crazy” and would ask if we could just meet on the weekend. I’d agree, but inside I had a sinking feeling something was wrong, but what?

From then on I was always anxious. I was preoccupied with his whereabouts and became hypersensitive to anything that could possibly imply that he wanted to break up. But while Greg’s behavior presented me with ample evidence of his dissatisfaction, he interspersed pushing me away with just enough affection and apologies to keep me from breaking up with him.

After a while, the ups and downs started to take a toll and I could no longer control my emotions. I didn’t know how to act, and despite my better judgment, I’d avoid making plans with friends in case he called. I completely lost interest in everything else that was important to me. Before long the relationship couldn’t withstand the strain and everything soon came to a screeching halt.



As friends, we were happy at first to see Tamara meet someone new that she was excited about, but as the relationship unfolded, we became increasingly concerned over her growing preoccupation with Greg. Her vitality gave way to anxiousness and insecurity. Most of the time she was either waiting for a call from Greg or too worried and preoccupied about the relationship to enjoy spending time with us as she had done in the past. It became apparent that her work was also suffering, and she expressed some concern that she may lose her job. We had always considered Tamara to be an extremely well-rounded, resilient person, and we were starting to wonder if we were mistaken about her strength. Although Tamara could point out Greg’s history of being unable to maintain a serious relationship and his unpredictability, and even acknowledged that she would probably be happier without him, she was not able to muster the strength to leave.

As experienced mental-health professionals, we had a hard time accepting that a sophisticated, intelligent woman like Tamara had so derailed from her usual self. Why was such a successful woman acting in such a helpless way? Why would somebody whom we’ve known to be so adaptive to most of life’s challenges become powerless in this one? The other end of the equation was equally puzzling. Why would Greg send out such mixed messages, although it was clear, even to us, that he did love her? There were many possible complex psychological answers to these questions, but a surprisingly simple yet far-reaching insight into the situation came from an unexpected source.


At about the same time that Tamara was dating Greg, Amir was working part-time in the Therapeutic Nursery at Columbia University. Here, he used attachment-guided therapy to help mothers create a more secure bond with their children. The powerful effect that attachment-guided treatment had on the relationship between mother and child encouraged Amir to deepen his knowledge of attachment theory. This eventually led him to a fascinating discovery: as research findings first made by Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver indicated, adults show patterns of attachment to their romantic partners similar to the patterns of attachment of children with their parents. As he read more about adult attachment, Amir began to notice attachment behavior in adults all around him. He realized that this discovery could have astounding implications for everyday life.

The first thing Amir did, once he realized the far-reaching implications of attachment theory for adult relationships, was to call his longtime friend Rachel. He described to her how effectively attachment theory explained the range of behaviors in adult relationships, and asked her to help him transform the academic studies and scientific data he’d been reading into practical guidelines and advice that people could use to actually change the course of their lives. And that’s how this book came to be.


Attachment theory designates three main “attachment styles,” or manners in which people perceive and respond to intimacy in romantic relationships, which parallel those found in children: Secure, Anxious, and Avoidant. Basically, secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving; anxious people crave intimacy, are often preoccupied with their relationships, and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back; avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness. In addition, people with each of these attachment styles differ in:

• their view of intimacy and togetherness

• the way they deal with conflict

• their attitude toward sex

Meet the Author

Amir Levine, M.D. is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist and neuroscientist. He graduated from the residency program at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University and for the past few years Amir has been conducting neuroscience research at Columbia under the mentorship of Nobel Prize Laureate Eric Kandel. Amir also has a passion for working with patients and it is in this context, while working with mothers and children in a therapeutic nursery, that he first discovered the power of attachment theory. His clinical work together with his deep understanding of the brain from a neuroscientist’s perspective contribute to his appreciation of attachment theory and its remarkable effectiveness in helping to heal patients. Amir lives in New York City.
Rachel Heller, M.A. studied at Columbia University with some of the most prominent scholars in the field of social psychology. She now works with families and couples as a psychologist in private practice. Rachel lives in Israel.

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Attached 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not enough stars in the sky to recommend this book. The chapters on attachment styles were like they were written with me in the room. Very approachable and understandable concepts that can be put to use virtually immediately. I am going on to learning more about this new science and how it can help me and others be happier and more successful in relationships.
Tracy_N More than 1 year ago
An incredible book. I've learned so much! It reveals a lot not only about who you are and how you relate to people you get involved with, but also about your dates, partners and, in fact, everyone else around you. It helps you understand the dynamics in your relationships and why you make the choices you do. What's great about this book is that it's helpful no matter where you are in the relationship "cycle" --dating, married, newly-divorced, etc. I highly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in love and relationships. My only question is why didn't this book come out sooner?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ATTACHED is a groundbreaking treatise on human relationships. The writing style is provocative, consistent and designed perfectly for the intelligent consumer audience-an extremely important and growing market today. It will be fascinating to see what effect this important book has on therapeutic techniques. No man is an island, as the saying goes. All of us are attached to others. Each of us has an attachment style. These have evolutionary and biological origins. We learn here that terms like "co-dependence" and "abandonment issues" are actually misnomers-that we only have either effective or ineffective attachments. We don't have to change ourselves to find relationships with others. We can be ourselves and seek out and, more importantly, understand our needs and the needs of our partners in life by creating healthy relationships. Every relationship, be it romantic, familial, workplace or platonic can be viewed in this light and put in a sound perspective allowing for better acceptance and communication all around. We can admit our needs and offer the right kind of support with those we love. With this new perspective, we can all become champions of the human experience.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If only I had read this book 7 years ago! If you are anxious attached like me, this could possibly change your life! The absolute best book I have ever read by far!
Lilbulldogz More than 1 year ago
This book has helped me to understand a lot. I still go back to if for reference.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was as if this book was written about me- for me. I identified so many of my patterns from this book and was able o take sense of all the emotions i have been feeling. It almost felt validating to know that there was some logic to the type of men and relationships i choose. The best part is that its all was you understand and lots of great ways to grow as a person and learn to grow beyond your patterns of attachment. I am looking forward to choosing and doing better
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flyingangel More than 1 year ago
I am in midterms with this class that i am taking based on this book and I am almost done with my presentation feedback on my findings . And I can say this " excellent " book and the audio along with the book enabled my ADHD learning stills excel 90% then 10% was the online additional aide information needed along with the online attachment style test ..
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nikrnoo More than 1 year ago
Great information on relationships & how the individual looks at, behaves in, & treats a/any relationship!
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supertiff More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. I have already put several of the methods into practice into my real life relationships and it has saved me much heartache. It almost seems like common sense but many people are still ignoring their habitual behavior patterns that cause their relationships to fall apart. Reading this will wake you up and help you to better understand yourself and the people around you. I am not a big reader of self help/love/relationship books but I think many can learn a lot from this one.
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Claudantus More than 1 year ago
A must read for everyone and anyone, whether they are interested in relationships or are single until rapture. It's easy to understand and reveals quite the tricks your mind plays on you. Very enlightening and gives confidence with knowledge.
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