Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

For over a year, I’ve been researching adult attachment theory. I find it absolutely fascinating.

This book has changed my life.

Attached. The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find–and Keep–Love isn’t just a book about romantic relationships. It’s a book for all adult relationships, including ones with spouses, friends, and… colleagues.

And… How about colleagues?

Educators sure talk an awful lot about relationships. It’s the buzziest buzzword to ever buzz in the history of education buzzwords. Maybe it’s the conciseness of the character-limited twitterverse that makes it sound like relationships are easy. In fact, they come so easy that you can just go buy one off the shelf at a grocery store. Just do these five simple things and you’re all set.

And adults are leading by example… right?

Who are we kidding?

Relationships can be anything but easy. Yet, relationships are the most vital moving piece of the educator’s professional and personal life.

Here’s the thing:

If you think things like collective efficacy, synergy, sense of belonging, collaboration, and professional learning teams really matter in education, like if they actually have an influence on the effect size of student learning outcomes, then…

Why aren’t there even more professional learning sessions about adult relationships? For any education endeavor involving two or more adults, there’s an opportunity to leverage healthy adult relationships to make teaching and learning better.

The challenge to facilitate meaningful learning experiences for kids doesn’t begin with kids. It’s not on them. The challenge to facilitate meaningful learning experiences for kids begins with adults. It’s on us. 

Every decision, conversation, and action made by adults ultimately affect kids and their learning.

Therefore, the better we know ourselves and others as professionals and people, the better we can collaborate to serve our learning communities.

Especially for adults–An informed sense of self can inform a sense of belonging.

So, why can adult relationships be so challenging? I mean, we’re older than kids, so we should be better at getting along and working together, right?

Of course, there are a thousand surface-level reasons why some relationships just don’t work.

Then, any adult relationship worthy of your investment most likely goes deeper than surface-level, and, therefore, is worth your work to foster and extend. You’re intentional in your efforts to make relationships work–even if only to facilitate more meaningful learning experiences for kids, as an educator.

Relationships should not be left to chance. They happen for a reason. 

In Attached, the authors rely on two decades of research to unfold the many layers of adult attachment styles. Understanding these perspectives can change your entire outlook on adult interactions. At least, it did mine.

Have you ever endured a challenging relationship and lived to tell about it?

Have you ever invested your whole heart and soul into making a friendship work only to realize that no matter what you ever did or didn’t do–it just wasn’t going to work?

It can be exhausting.

And it can absolutely break your heart.

So, why is this happening? I just don’t understand.

Perhaps, it has a lot to do with relatonal spacing, intimacy, and security.

Having a basic understanding of adult attachment styles can be a starting line to getting to know ourselves, each other, and how we might collaborate together, effectively. It can make our relationships functional, healthy, and meaningful

Here are the authors’ official attachment style definitions, along with my take on their applications, pertaining to all the different kinds of adult relationships.

Avoidant People

  • Equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness
    • Desires intimacy and reacts to others to get it
    • Feels better when distanced and independent
    • Rarely expresses (supresses) feelings, needs, and wants
    • Needs lots of space
    • Needs to be chased
    • Attracted to Anxious
    • Does not pair well with Avoidant or Anxious
    • Pairs best with Secure but does not care about Secure

Anxious People

Secure People

For me, the most valuable part of the book was not just being aware of my attachment style and the attachment styles of others around me.

The most valuable part of this book–and the reason why it has changed my life–was how the authors thoroughly explored how all the attachment styles interact… AND how to make the best of our interactions in the whole group, given our individual attachment styles in part.

Even after researching at length, the authors concluded with an interesting takeaway, one in which growth-mindset-learning, educational folks would definitely appreciate:

“Adult attachment theory has proven time and again that when it comes to attachment style, we’re malleable. And it’s never too late to learn new relationship skills.”

I highly recommend every adult and every educator read this book to improve their relationships, quality of life, and sense of belonging.

My Twitter-Search Results: “@KyleHamstra #attachedkgh”

My Attached Wakelet Collection: #attachedkgh


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