Attached - by Amir Levine #

Date Read: 2023-04-20 #

Notes #

3 attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant

Anxious and Avoidant should avoid each other


  • Sends mixed signals
  • values independence greatly
  • devalues you
  • uses distancing strategies
  • emphasizes boundaries
  • mistrustful
  • uncompromising rules
  • doesn’t make intentions clear
  • difficulty talking about what’s going on


  • Reliable and consistent
  • makes decisions together
  • communicates issues well
  • can reach compromise
  • not afraid of commitment or dependency
  • doesn’t view relationship as hard work
  • closeness creats further closeness
  • introduces friends and family early
  • naturally expresses feeling
  • doesn’t play games


  • wants a lot of closeness
  • expresses worries about rejection
  • unhappy when not in a relationship
  • plays games to keep your attention
  • has difficulty explaining, expects you to guess
  • acts out
  • lets you set the tone
  • preoccupied with the relationship
  • fears small acts will ruin relationship
  • suspicious that you may be unfaithful

Activating strategies (Anxious)

  • Thinking about your mate, difficulty concentrating on other things.
  • Remembering only their good qualities.
  • Putting them on a pedestal: underestimating your talents and abilities and overestimating theirs.
  • An anxious feeling that goes away only when you are in contact with them.
  • Believing this is your only chance for love
  • Believing that even though you’re unhappy, you’d better not let go

Protest Behaviour (Anxious)

  • Excessive attempts to reestablish contact
  • Withdrawing
  • Keeping score
  • Acting hostile
  • Threatening to leave
  • Manipulations
  • Making him/her feel jealous

Coaching (Anxious)

  1. Acknowledge and accept your true relationship needs.
  2. Recognize and rule out avoidant prospects early on.
  3. A new way of dating: Be your authentic self and use effective communication.
  4. The abundance philosophy.
  5. Give secure people a chance.

Deactivating Strategies (Avoidant)

  • Saying (or thinking) “I’m not ready to commit”
  • Focusing on small imperfections in your partner
  • Pining after an ex
  • Flirting with others—a hurtful way to introduce insecurity into the relationship
  • Not saying “I love you”—while implying that you do have feelings toward the other person
  • Pulling away when things are going well
  • Forming relationships with an impossible future, such as with someone who is married.
  • “Checking out mentally” when your partner is talking to you.
  • Keeping secrets and leaving things foggy—to maintain your feeling of independence.
  • Avoiding physical closeness

Unhelpful thought patterns

  • Mistaking Self-Reliance for Independence
  • Seeing the Worm Instead of the Apple

Coaching (Avoidant)

  1. Learn to identify deactivating strategies. Don’t act on your impulse. When you’re excited about someone but then suddenly have a gut feeling that s/he is not right for you, stop and think. Is this actually a deactivating strategy? Are all those small imperfections you’re starting to notice really your attachment system’s way of making you step back? Remind yourself that this picture is skewed and that you need intimacy despite your discomfort with it. If you thought s/he was great to begin with, you have a lot to lose by pushing him or her away.
  2. De-emphasize self-reliance and focus on mutual support. When your partner feels s/he has a secure base to fall back on (and doesn’t feel the need to work hard to get close), and when you don’t feel the need to distance yourself, you’ll both be better able to look outward and do your own thing. You’ll become more independent and your partner will be less needy.
  3. Find a secure partner. As you will see in chapter 7, people with secure attachment styles tend to make their anxious and avoidant partners more secure as well. Someone with an anxious attachment style, however, will exacerbate your avoidance—often in a perpetual vicious cycle. Given a chance, we recommend you choose the secure route. You’ll experience less defensiveness, less fighting, and less anguish.
  4. Be aware of your tendency to misinterpret behaviors. Negative views of your partner’s behaviors and intentions infuse bad vibes into the relationship. Change this pattern! Recognize this tendency, notice when it happens, and look for a more plausible perspective. Remind yourself that this is your partner, you chose to be together, and that maybe you’re better off trusting that they do have your best interests at heart.
  5. Make a relationship gratitude list. Remind yourself on a daily basis that you tend to think negatively of your partner or date. It is simply part of your makeup if you have an avoidant attachment style. Your objective should be to notice the positive in your partner’s actions. This may not be an easy task, but with practice and perseverance, you’ll gradually get the hang of it. Take time every evening to think back on the events of the day. List at least one way your partner contributed, even in a minor way, to your well-being, and why you’re grateful they’re in your life.
  6. Nix the phantom ex. When you find yourself idealizing that one special ex-partner, stop and acknowledge that he or she is not (and never was) a viable option. By remembering how critical you were of that relationship—and how leery you were of committing—you can stop using him or her as a deactivating strategy and focus on someone new.
  7. Forget about “the one.” We don’t dispute the presence of soul mates in our world. On the contrary, we wholeheartedly believe in the soul mate experience. But it is our belief that you have to be an active party in the process. Don’t wait until “the one” who fits your checklist shows up and then expect everything to fall into place. Make them into your soul mate by choosing them out of the crowd, allowing them to get close (using the strategies we offer in this chapter) and making them a special part of you.
  8. Adopt the distraction strategy. As an avoidant, it’s easier to get close to your partner if there’s a distraction (remember the experiment with a distraction task). Focusing on other things—taking a hike, going sailing, or preparing a meal together—will allow you to let your guard down


  • Great conflict busters
  • Mentally flexible
  • Effective communicators
  • Not game players
  • Comfortable with closeness, unconcerned about boundaries
  • Quick to forgive
  • Inclined to view sex and emotional intimacy as one
  • Treat their partners like royalty
  • Secure in their power to improve the relationship
  • Responsible for their partners’ well-being

Providing a secure base

  • Be available
  • Don’t interfere
  • Encourage

The anxious-avoidant trap The roller-coaster effect. In the relationship you never sail along on an even keel. Instead, every once in a while, when the avoidant partner makes him/herself available to the anxious partner, the latter’s attachment system is temporarily quieted and you achieve extreme closeness—leading to the feeling of a “high.” This closeness, however, is perceived as a threat by the avoidant partner and is quickly followed by withdrawal on his or her part—only to create renewed dissatisfaction for the anxious partner. Life in the inner circle as the enemy. If you are anxious, you find that you’re getting treated worse instead of better once you become the person closest to the avoidant partner.

Escaping the trap

  • what were the patterns?
  • what triggered the activation/deactivation?
  • What were the feelings
  • identify insecure model
  • identify what is lost
  • identify a secure role model and secure principles to adopt

Effective communication

  • Wear your heart on your sleeve
  • Focus on your needs.
  • Be specific
  • Don’t blame
  • Be assertive and nonapologetic

Judging the response

  • Does s/he try to get to the bottom of your concerns?

  • Does s/he respond to the issue at hand or does s/he try to dodge you?

  • Does s/he take your concerns seriously or does s/he try to belittle you or make you feel foolish for raising them?

  • Does s/he try to find ways to make you feel better or is s/he only busy acting defensive?

  • Is s/he replying to your concerns only factually (as in a court of law) or is s/he also in tune with your emotional well-being?

  • If you are anxious—turn to effective communication when you feel you are starting to resort to protest behavior. When something your partner has said or done (or refrained from saying or doing) has activated your attachment system to the point where you feel you’re on the verge of acting out—by not answering his or her calls, threatening to leave, or engaging in any other form of protest behavior—stop yourself. Then figure out what your real needs are and use effective communication instead. But only after you’ve thoroughly calmed down (which for someone anxious can sometimes take a day or two).

  • If you are avoidant—the surefire sign that you need to use effective communication is when you feel an irrepressible need to bolt. Use effective communication to explain to your partner that you need some space and that you’d like to find a way of doing so that is acceptable to him or her. Suggest a few alternatives, making sure that the other person’s needs are taken care of. By doing so, you’re more likely to get the breathing space you need.

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

Insecure Conflict Strategies to Avoid

  1. Getting sidetracked from the real problem.
  2. Neglecting to effectively communicate your feelings and needs.
  3. Reverting to personal attacks and destructiveness.
  4. Reacting “tit for tat” to a partner’s negativity with more negativity.
  5. Withdrawing.
  6. Forgetting to focus on the other’s well-being.