By Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller

My path to this book has been a few years long: in 2019, I broke up with my boyfriend after a somewhat drawn out crash and burn of a years-long relationship. I was hopeful that we would have a friendship afterwards, and at first it seemed like we would; after a period of no contact, we starting getting in touch again and got back to having nice chit chat. He was dating and very much focusing on how to find or make a successful relationship at the time (I was focusing on law school), and he mentioned this book. I’d known a little about attachment styles and was interested, and he bought and mailed me the book without my requesting it (slight oof-talk about getting unsolicited advice). Soon after that, he stopped speaking to me, explaining that his new girlfriend was uncomfortable with it. We have now not spoken in years, and I’ve just had this book lying around, his final unrequested suggestion in my life. I kept it because I wanted to read it (after all, I’ve heard of attachment styles and thought it could have helpful info for me in it) but I’ve avoided reading it because I felt like I wasn’t ready (I figured the book would force self-critique, and I was not in a super calm and established time in my life to deal with that) and because childishly I saw the book’s existence as rude (your ex sends you a relationship book, then stops talking to you because his girlfriend is scared of you? Who is he to be giving advice?!)

So, now I’m in a very stable relationship, and out of school and out of Connecticut with my career flourishing. I’ve got the mental space to handle the book. And my take away is: wow I am doing a lot better than I thought! I thought for sure I’d test heavily into the anxious attachment style, but I absolutely do not. Sure, my worst instincts lean that way, but my first insticts are all secure attachment, and the same goes for my partner (who leans avoidant, but is secure through and through). I could have read this thing way earlier and felt way better about myself!

It’s a quick read, with a significant amount of workbook material. Like most self help books, it spends way too much time telling you how useful it’s going to be, and a lot of its suggestions are wildly obvious: the authors repeatedly encourage “effective communication,” as if people are running around targetting the ineffective stuff. But, I did think that the detailed description of anxious and avoidant triggers and responses was useful in helping me to reflect on my experiences, and I’d probably recommend the book to a lot of people as an easy-to-read starting point for healthy relationship fundamentals. I do think a lot of the “science” described in the book is very questionable, and I’d caution against taking as gospel anything that sorts people into a handful of Hogwarts houses like this book does, but it definitely has useful tidbits.