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The Science of Attachment and Bonding


“Attached” by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller explores the science of adult attachment and the healing power of the work couples do with each other.

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—LoveTime Magazine’s Maia Szalavitz explores the science of bonding in an interview with Amir Levine and Rachel Heller about their new book, “Attached. The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find — and Keep — Love.”

Therapists often tell people that you can’t be loved until you are able to love yourself, and suggest that people take time to work on themselves before getting into a relationship. But there’s no data to support that, and in fact, the research shows that you need to be loved before you can love. Why do we have this cultural misunderstanding about relationships?

[People say it] because there’s a kernel of truth to it, but that’s one of the reasons we wrote this book. [In it, we describe] someone we know who is well-rounded and functional in every aspect of life, and clearly very much loves herself and her life. But she went into a relationship with someone who was very avoidant, and then became very anxious to the point that she almost lost her job.

It’s funny because one of most amazing things that this theory teaches is that if you are anxious or avoidant, and you meet someone who is secure, there are huge healing powers [in that relationship]. You become more secure. You don’t even have to work hard, it just happens. Sometimes, magic can happen. The science breaks it down, it really challenges your perception and ideas and beliefs about relationships in a good way, and you change [in ways] that would be very hard to do on your own.

You can do [some of that] in therapy but it’s so powerful when you do it in a relationship. When we get attached, powerful forces [are involved]. People think about psychological aspects but it’s also very much physiological. Your partner starts to control your blood pressure and autonomic nervous system. It has huge implications for physical health.



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