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Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine & Rachel S.F. Heller

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Do you live in suspense, anticipating that next small remark or gesture that will reassure you?  Do you equate the anxiety, the preoccupation, the obsession, and those ever-so-short bursts of joy with love. If so, you in fact might have an anxious attachment style and what you’re really doing is equating an activated attachment system with passion.  An activated attachment system is not passionate love! True love, in the evolutionary sense, means peace of mind.

Broadly speaking there are three types of attachment style are secure, avoidant and anxious. 

The majority of people have a secure attachment style, which is characterized by honesty, straightforwardness, and consistency. Secures are not afraid of intimacy and know they are worthy of love. They don’t have to beat around the bush or play hard to get.  These people tend to settle down in longer term relationships.

People with avoidant attachment styles make up about a quarter of the population but you are more likely to meet these people in the dating pool.  Avoidant people tend to maintain a certain distance from their partners and end relationships more frequently. Avoidants are unlikely to be in a relationship with other avoidants, because they lack the emotional glue to stay together so wind up dating people with anxious attachment styles. 

If you possess an anxious attachment style, when you meet an avoidant person the ambiguous messages, tension and suspense can activate your attachment system, you may become excited.  Whereas, the direct straight forward messages from a secure person provide you with no spark and you may mistake for lack of love.  An anxious person might then associate a calm attachment system with boredom and indifference. Due to this fallacy you might let the perfect partner pass by!

If you’re anxious, you have a strong need for closeness and have to be reassured at all times that your partner loves and respects you. If you’re avoidant, you need to be able to maintain some distance, either emotional or physical, from your partner and preserve a large degree of separateness. In order to be happy in a relationship, we need to find a way to communicate our attachment needs clearly, without resorting to attacks or defensiveness.

Often, insecure people cannot get in touch with what is really bothering them. They get overwhelmed by emotions and lash out. People with a secure attachment style don’t react so strongly or get overwhelmed as easily, and can thus calmly and effectively communicate their own feelings and tend to the needs of their partners.

Effective communication is key to building and maintaining healthy relationships, but it requires being genuine, specific, assertive, and non-apologetic.  Focus on an issue don’t get angry and display protest behaviour.  Understanding your own attachment style and communicating your needs clearly without attacking or being defensive is crucial for a happy and fulfilling relationship.

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