Pitch Perfect and attachment theory

I love Pitch Perfect. It has plenty of problems with race. But it also has a cast full of talented, awesome women (Rebel Wilson, pre-Super Fun Night…those were the days), a female writer, and a female producer. And Beca (Anna Kendrick), its main character, has a really refreshing take on relationships.


attached-bookLet’s back up. Have you read the book Attached (subtitle: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find — And Keep — Love)? Kelly leant it to me a while back and it’s no exaggeration that it changed my life. Basically, the book’s authors use attachment theory to trace how childhood experiences with your parents (did they give you enough love/attention?) shape your adult dating life. To sum it up, which of these three examples from U of Illinois is closest to how you act in relationships?

  1. I get a bit uncomfortable being close to others; it’s hard to trust them completely or allow myself to depend on them. I feel nervous when anyone gets too close.
  2. It’s fairly easy for me to get close to others, and I’m comfortable when we depend on each other. I don’t worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to me.
  3. Love interests are reluctant to get as close as I’d like. I often worry that my partner doesn’t really love me or won’t want to stay with me. I want to get very close to my partner, and this sometimes scares people away.

#1 means your attachment style is “avoidant” — you push people away, then when they’re distant, draw them back in (and compare them to your exes, which you idealize). #2 means you’re “secure,” the best one — you don’t have a problem forming intimate relationships. #3, the one I am, is “anxious” — you worry too much that someone doesn’t really like you or is constantly about to break up with you; you obsess in the early stages (which pushes some people away). UNFORCH, we anxious types are DRAWN to avoidant types. We feed off of their unavailability, and then as we scramble to get close, they get weirded out and refuse to commit. It’s a perfect cycle of HELL AND PAIN!!!!!!!1

Ahem. Anyway, the point of all this is that Beca in Pitch Perfect is avoidant. Jesse, her love interest [HERE BE SPOILERS!!!], pursues her and keeps trying to get close to her, but she pushes him away (and everyone else, for that matter). In my extensive rom-com expertise, I think it’s unusual to see a woman playing the avoidant role. The stereotype is that the woman keeps chasing a hesitant guy who’s “just not that into [her].” But Pitch Perfect flips the script. Obviously Beca has to overcome her avoidant tendencies to let Jesse in and FIND LOOOOVE (barf). But in the meantime, she doesn’t waste any time obsessing over him.


I think there’s a lesson there for us anxious types. As The Awl recently wrote:

[N]ever, ever waste a minute of your time on a guy who’s tepid…

[Y]ou MUST recognize that life among those who don’t appreciate or understand you is bullshit. You don’t want to live that way. You don’t want to be badgery and lonely while you’re with someone. You’d rather be alone.

This is finally sinking in. I DON’T want to chase people anymore. It’s exhausting and frustrating and heartbreaking. So while I’m not gonna go full avoidant, I think Beca and her giving-no-fucks attitude (with regard to the manfolk) is a great example. Do your thang, and the truly awesome people will notice and appreciate you (hopefully? right?) and then you can do all the smoochin’. Or something.


P.S. If you’re intrigued by the whole “attachment style” thingie, you can take a free li’l quiz here to find out which one you are.

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