And most importantly, to understand the way relationships, love, and dating in general work. And it did give me a lot of insights.
The book is based on attachment theory. One of the authors is a board-certified in adult psychiatry and is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Society for Neuroscience. The other author holds a B.A. in behavioral sciences (psychology, anthropology, and sociology) and an M.A. degree in social-organizational psychology from Columbia University.
The attachment theory says that we, in terms of being attached to a partner, are divided into 4 types:
- The anxious type: they have a negative self-image. And at the same time, they have a positive image of those around them. In other words, they look down at themselves and they look up at other people. This makes them very insecure in their relationships. They always become worried that their partner will leave them or that they are not good enough for their partner. They want to be assured all the time. They are afraid of rejection. They want so much closeness in their relationships. They usually become the needy and the clingy partner.
- The avoidant type: they have positive self-image (mostly). And at the same time, they have a negative self-image of those around them. They are the opposite of the anxious type. They look down at other people and they look up to themselves. Usually, but not always, in a narcissistic way. Those people want an intimate relationship but ironically don’t want too much closeness in this relationship. Closeness suffocates them. It scares them. They do their best to create barriers between them and their partners. And this is very frustrating and confusing to their partners. They usually become the distant, aloof partner in their relationships.
- The anxious-avoidant type: those people got the worst of the two previous types.
- The secure type: they have a positive self-image. And they have positive image of those around them. They want closeness in relationships. But they don’t force it like the anxious type and they don’t run away from it like the avoidant type. They are not afraid of rejection. They communicate their needs effectively and honestly.
Ironically, the anxious type and the avoidant type end up together. Their insecurities fit together. One reason for this is that they fulfill each other’s expectations and beliefs.
The anxious type wants closeness. At the same time, they believe that they are not good enough for other people. The avoidant type doesn’t want closeness and intimacy, so they withdraw.
When the anxious type gets closer to the avoidant one, the latter withdraws. This withdrawn activates what is called: the attachment system. The activation of this attachment system will make the anxious type obsessed with the relationship. It will make him seek more closeness, for closeness is the only thing which can deactivate the attachment system.
When this happens, the avoidant type immediately deactivates his attachment system. They become cold and distant, emotionally or physically. They don’t like this desire for too much closeness and they literally avoid it with all their power.
This becomes a cycle. The anxious gets closer, the avoidant runs away.
And through this cycle, they fulfill the beliefs that they already have about themselves and the people. For the anxious type, “I’m not good enough.” For the avoidant type, “people will invade my personal space and suffocate me.” Or even, “see how attractive I am. She/he is chasing like crazy, but hey, I value my personal space more!”
They are those type of relationships where one person is needy and the other person is a jerk (but also equally needy).
The secure type doesn’t have all this drama or all these tiring games. They are straightforward and honest. They are not afraid of their feelings and they value themselves enough to walk away from such crazy relationships.
When the secure type gets in a relationship with one of those types, one of two scenarios can happen. One, the secure type makes the other type more secure by comforting them and teaching them how to communicate effectively (this usually happens between secure and anxious types). Two, the insecure type drags down the secure type to their level of dishonesty and game-playing. In this case, the secure type has lost a lot.
The one thing that I’ve learned from this book is that, in relationships, you attract what you are. I’ve seen the trap of the anxious-avoidant types all the time. I’ve tried it myself. But it’s not only because the other party is insane, it’s usually because you are also insane in a way that you two get to be together. Painful but very true.
Work on being secure. Believe in yourself and never settle for someone who doesn’t meet your needs. Compensation in relationships is a lie. It may lead to stability, but never to happiness.
The book includes a lot of examples and real stories from research that were collected over time. It’ll help you see this pattern. It’ll help you become more aware of the way your relationships go. And it will help you understand why things go the way they go, even if just partly.
Don’t settle for a relationship where you don’t feel appreciated. Especially for the anxious type, this book will be very helpful.
Articles inspired by this book:
- How to Be Assertive And Not Get Walked Over
- Stop Being A Frog in Your Relationships
- How Clearly Do You Think You See The World?
Or you can check the entire Reading List