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Home » Stan Tatkin » Am I An Anchor, Island, or Wave?

Am I An Anchor, Island, or Wave?

by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,

So many people get stuck with this issue of “what am I” when it comes diagnostic classifications. Unfortunately I have become part of the problem. In my book, Wired for Love, I introduced what I thought was a friendlier attachment terminology: secure = anchor; avoidant = island; and angry resistant = wave. I was never fully happy with the classification system as laid out in the book because it seemed to perpetuate the human need to classify and be classified as either this or that. So, let’s put this issue to rest and establish the obvious: most of us do not neatly fit into categories or classifications. In Wired for Love terms think of yourself as being “anchor-ish,” or “island-ish,” or “wave-ish.” And this “ish-ness” can be understood to be state-related (temporary) rather than trait-related (permanent), such as “Last night I behaved in a wave-ish manner,” or “You can be island-ish sometimes,” or “I tend to be more anchor-ish in this relationship than ever before.”

I hope this clears the question of “what am I” to which I say we are all mostly “ishy.”

© 2013 – A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy® – all rights reserved


  1. Andrés Climent says:

    Totalmente de acuerdo! Para los clientes y terapeutas permite no quedarse pegado a la clasificación. Permite abrir posibilidades. Gracias Stan. Nos vemos en Valencia. Andrés


    • For those of you who do not speak Spanish, Andrew said:

      Totally agree! For clients and therapists can not stay glued to the classification. Opens possibilities. Thanks Stan. See you in Valencia. Andrew


  2. hahaha very true Stan.. I love the ishy-ness!!! and it also clears this question up as my clients have been getting a little confused… See you soon Jacqui


  3. peter jones says:

    Stan do you mean “anxious preoccupied” by ‘angry resistant’ for wave?


  4. Lisa says:

    thank you, I agree with this. I was wondering if you could create a new category of the ideal, efficient and effective type that I could move into. But then I wonder is there one . probably not. My next question was if I am wave-ish and my husband is Anchor-ish what do I need to know about that?


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