Well Being

Relationships Are The New Infancy: New Book Says Couples Act Like Babies

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According to the new book Attached by Amir Levene and Rachel Heller, the way we behave in romantic relationships mirrors childhood behavior and is determined during infancy.

In what Levene and Heller call “startlingly similar” traits and types between romance and infancy, the theory put forth in their book, which is set to be released this week, posits the following:

Basically, secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving. Anxious people crave intimacy, are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back. Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and keep their distance…In the Sixties, tests found that babies were either ‘secure’, ‘anxious’ or ‘avoidant’. If a secure baby’s mother left the room he would start crying, but as soon as she returned he calmed down and started to play again.

This analogous behavior between romantic couplings and babies got me to thinking about the mannerisms we exhibit when we meet someone new, start dating, and form new pair-bonds. If you think about it, we do behave like a bunch of toddlers. We hold hands when we cross the street, we feed each other, play-fight and tickle, sit on each others laps, give each other silly pet names, and we even talk in that mushy baby voice to each other. What's up with that?

“I was in a relationship for three years,” says Madeleine, who owns a pâtisserie in Oshawa, Ontario. “We were never affectionate in public nor did we have that sense of play and puppy love. That happened again with my next “serious” relationship. No kissy faces, incessant hand holding and skipping down the street. Then I met Dave. From the beginning before we even dated we flirted, messaged each other cute things. Then we started dating and I constantly found myself saying to him ‘We're grossing people out right now.' We are always smiling goofily at each other, holding hands, and almost reduced to being toddlers with the innocent way we interact with each other.  In that sense it is like we are back in our infant stage since we have such a strong connection.”

“For this reason alone, I know he will probably be the one I end up with forever,” Madeleine continues, “because for the first time in my life I am having fun, and I'm not constantly thinking about what the next step is supposed to be. We're here, right now, and infants are the only humans who are truly fulfilled by the moment, not by thinking about the future.”

Crystal, a Community Manager in Toronto, has a polar opposite view on the topic. “Perhaps when I was in high school, I thought it romantic to hold hands and be all lovey-dovey. I got over it really quickly. Now I save the PDA. No one wants to see Jared and I making out or clinging to each other like desperate idiots…I get nauseous just looking at couples tweeting back and forth sometimes!”

Allegra, a saleswoman in Toronto, sums up her stance in one succinct comment: “Those are all the worst things about a romantic relationship. I want companionship and to be challenged, not coddled.”

(Photo: Thinkstock)

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