How do you attach? And are you compatible?

Finally, there is a new, serious, not pop psychology advance in the understanding of how we connect with one another.

I’m not taken with fads. This really is big stuff.

It’s based on attachment theory, that psychoanalytically inspired work of John Bowlby. A couple of folks have broken it down, applied it, and put it into layman’s language in a new book, Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love, by Amir Levine, MD (a sometime-collaborator with Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel) and Rachel S.F. Heller.

You’ll want to read the short excerpt in Scientific American online: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=quiz-relationship-science-attachment-quiz

And to decipher your attachment style — and if you’re not flying solo that of your partner(s), and also to get a pretty decent attachment theory-based read on your likely compatibility — take the attachment quiz:  http://www.attachedthebook.com/compatibility-quiz/

You can read the stellar reviews, and order the book on Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Attached-Science-Attachment-Find%C2%97-Keep%C2%97Love/dp/1585428485/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294345363&sr=8-1

As an aside, a few of us in sex and relationship therapy have been working with people along these lines for a number of years. It’s exciting to see attachment and intimacy moving into the limelight and coming of age.

“If only I had a hot lover”

“If only I had a hot lover,” she said to me.

If only everyone had a hot lover, I thought.  But that wouldn’t solve this woman’s problem, or most people’s problems.  It sounded good though.

When people come to me they nearly always identify a “problem” that is rarely the real problem. Most often it’s a symptom of a problem they themselves cannot see. Very often it’s one that is part of what I refer to as ‘core material.’ Core material is not just stuff that’s in our heads. It’s psychological, emotional, spiritual, physical, interpersonal, social. It is tied to our very identity, which is why it’s too risky to look at directly.  Sometimes it is entirely inaccessible to us, and for good reason. It would be too painful or hard to make sense of to face head on. Sometimes, we’re deeply invested in not knowing what’s really going on there.

And so without intentionally doing so we fashion for ourselves rationalizations, and rationalizations about our rationalizations, to make sense of things that are messy, contradictory or simply beyond our ken.  That’s why we come up with solutions such as, “If only I had a hot lover.” It gives us imaginary control over the otherwise uncontrollable.

This young woman wanted to see me because, as she put it, even though she met and dated men she was attracted to, she lacked a desire for sex and when she had it she felt unsatisfied.  Especially if one has had clumsy, incompetent, selfish or boring  lovers, seeking and finding a “hot” one makes a very defensible commonsense solution.  And, depending on the person, it might even offer some hope for better sex and more fulfilling intimacy.

But in my experience it is rarely the answer.

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