4 Reasons Why “Attached” Beats “The Rules”

AttachedRulesValentine’s Day is upon us again, and I’ve realized that I’ve never written about the best relationship book I’ve ever read, despite urging friends to read it for the last year and a half. I’m talking about Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – And Keep – Love, by Amir Levine, M.D., and Rachel Heller, M.A. I’ve read many dating and relationship books over the years, and Attached beats them all. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to compare it with The Rules, by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.

I should mention that it’s been years since I read The Rules, and my efforts to follow it were half-hearted at best. I’m not totally knocking it – some of the rules make sense. For instance, don’t date married people. But overall, I always felt that following The Rules would ultimately mean a relationship built on manipulation and untruths. A good friend of mine, on the other hand, disagrees with me and credits it with her happy marriage.

So with those caveats, here are my top four reasons why Attached beats The Rules:

  1. Attached applies to everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or relationship status.
    The Rules targets women looking to snag a husband.
  2. Attached encourages clear communication and provides concrete methods to improve relationships, based on attachment styles.
    The Rules encourages game-playing and tells women that to hang on to a husband, they should cater to his needs while pretending they don’t have any. No wonder both authors have been divorced.
  3. Attached is based on the authors’ years of scientific research and professional experience, which led them to identify three basic attachment types: secure, anxious, and avoidant. Each behaves predictably in relationships, so knowing their characteristics makes it easy to determine what type you’re dealing with and how they’re likely to act toward you.
    The Rules is based on the authors’ years of chatting with girlfriends over Chinese food (“…sort of like Sex and the City,” according to their website). Their idea that women need to play hard-to-get to attract and keep a man is erroneous. Actually, their dating tactics mainly attract avoidants (you know, hot-and-cold types who can’t get enough of you one day, then don’t talk to you for two weeks). Avoidants make up only 25% of the population, though they’re over-represented in the dating pool due to their difficulties sustaining intimate relationships.
  4. Attached encourages people to evaluate relationships based on how the other person treats them and whether that person meets their needs.
    The Rules tells women to “be a mysterious creature like no other.” The end result: you focus on impressing someone else, rather than whether they’re worth impressing in the first place.

I can attest that the principles in Attached work. When I read it, I was recovering from yet another brief relationship with a dishonest guy who didn’t appreciate me. Despite having dated some genuinely good guys, I felt so bitter and resentful that I decided to assume dates were jerks until proven otherwise. I didn’t really WANT to approach dating with that view, but nothing else I had tried worked. Reading Attached was a revelation. Its ideas seemed so obvious and simple I couldn’t believe I had never thought of them.

Boiling dating down to the question, “Can this person meet my needs?” completely changed dating for me. It empowered me to pass up people who instinctively felt wrong, rather than corresponding with or meeting them “just in case.” It also kept me from continuing to date people I liked but who weren’t quite the right fit. Dating became a lot less frustrating, and the quality of my dates improved. After just a few months, I met my perfect partner to grow old and wrinkly with. Given that my last LTR ended around 1993, that’s pretty impressive.

Find out more about these books here:
The Rules

And Happy Valentine’s Day!

© Karen Joslin, 2013