As I saunter into my thirties, I, in some ways, feel younger than I ever have before. The mix of ambition and confusion of my twenties made me exhausted in every way possible, and the proverbial pedestal I placed all my desires on made it impossible for me to see what was right in front of my face: the present moment. Since youth is famously wasted on the young, I chose to not personalize it, but rather, draw a conclusion that makes me feel a semblance of peace instead. I have come to believe the classic adage that timing really is, in fact, everything. It’s clear when the right thing is showing up in our lives at the right time because it just, well, feels right. With this belief as a key component to how I navigate the world, I’ve also found that the right books, bands and films have found their way into my life just when I needed to learn from them most.
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help you Find and Keep Love was one of those books for me. Written by psychologist and neuroscientist Amir Levine and psychologist Rachel S.F. Heller, it introduces the concept of three distinct attachment styles: anxious, avoidant, and secure. Attachment styles are a way to indicate differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions in relation to attaching to others. This can mean many kinds of attachment including romantic partnerships, work relationships, family or friendships.
According to Levine and Heller, attachment styles are formed in infancy because the caregiver-infant relationship is the template from which we build relationships. Generally speaking, anxiously attached people are often worried that the object of their desire will leave them at any moment, often because they experienced an unpredictable caretaking model during infancy. This creates a preoccupation that distracts them from enjoying their lives and constantly wondering everything is OK. Avoidant attachment types typically think of intimacy as a loss of independence and will seek relief by pushing any bid for connection away from them. This can be brought on by a caretaker who had a lot of needs from their child, which can be very overwhelming. “Any need overwhelms that person. A way to fend off that overwhelm is to withdraw into their own world,” says psychotherapist, Raina Murphy, LCSW (she/they).
And finally, there’s securely attached people. These are those magical unicorns you meet once in a blue moon who feel comfortable getting close to others without too much of a cat and mouse game. “What that means is that somebody is able to be in connection with someone and feel self-regulated, calm and secure in that connection, and also continue to feel secure in that connection when they go out in the world. This is the ideal,” Raina says.