What Your Favourite Songs Say About Your Relationships Ep 711

An image of a developing mind, represented by a brain with building works and scaffold. Uncover how songs mirror your relationships.

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 3733 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 19 min

📥 Download MP3 & PDF 12.8 Mb ▪️ 👓 Read Transcript ▪️ 🎧 Listen to Lesson

English Listening Practice: Why English Hits Reveal Love Styles: Don't Miss Out!

Discover how popular English songs reflect our relationship styles and improve your English listening skills! Don't just learn English; experience a journey through the psychology of music. Tune in and transform your understanding of language and love!

👍 Why Choose This Lesson?

  • 🎵 Engage with Lifestyle & News: Learn English through the lens of popular culture.
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✔Lesson transcript: https://adeptenglish.com/lessons/english-listening-practice-attachment-theory-popular-music/

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
⭐ Lao Tzu

In this lesson, you're diving into a topic that's more than just English - it's about how our favourite songs echo our deepest feelings in relationships. By exploring this, you'll find a unique way to connect with English. You'll see how language isn't just about words; it's about expressing emotions and experiences that resonate with us.

As you listen, you'll not only enhance your vocabulary and listening skills but also gain insights into how language can mirror our inner worlds. It's a powerful way to learn, making English more than just a subject, but a window into diverse human experiences.

You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.
⭐ Oscar Wilde

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More About This Lesson

Discover the magic of learning English through popular songs! In this lesson, we explore how songs mirror our emotions in relationships. It's not just about words; it's about connecting with feelings and experiences.

We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.
⭐ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

You get a lot of great English language learning in our English listening lessons:

  1. Enhanced Vocabulary: Learning words like "attachment", "insight", and "psychotherapy".
  2. Improved Listening Skills: Exposure to varied English phrases and pronunciations.
  3. Cultural Insight: Understanding British culture through music and psychology references.
  4. Practical Psychology Knowledge: Gaining insights into Attachment Theory.
  5. Increased Engagement: Interesting content keeps you listening longer, aiding learning.
  6. Real-World Connections: Linking language learning with everyday topics like music.
  7. Understanding Linguistic Nuance: Grasping subtle meanings in song lyrics and conversation.
  8. Broadened Perspective: Exploring the psychological basis of relationships.
  9. Self-Reflection Opportunity: Relating the lesson to personal experiences enhances retention.
  10. Interactive Learning Approach: Encourages feedback and further exploration.
The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.
⭐ Eden Ahbez

Benefits of our listen & learn approach to learning

Why is this lesson special? You'll see how music can reveal a lot about love and attachment styles, while also improving your English listening skills.

  • Music and Emotions: Understand how English songs reflect our deepest feelings.
  • Language and Psychology: Dive into the blend of English fluency and insights into relationship styles.
  • Cultural Connections: Learn about British and American cultural views on relationships through music.
  • Fun Learning: Experience a unique way to enhance your English vocabulary and listening skills.

Learning our way is more than learning English. You'll gain a deeper understanding of how language and music express our inner worlds. This lesson is a perfect mix of cultural insights, psychological exploration, and language improvement.

Ready to deepen your English skills and explore the world of relationships through music? Follow and subscribe to our podcast for more exciting and effective English lessons! 🎧✨

Frequently Asked Questions

Exploring the intricate dance of relationships through the lens of popular English songs, this British English lesson is like a kaleidoscope, revealing colourful, ever-shifting patterns of human attachment and emotion, all set to the universal rhythm of language and music.

  1. What is Attachment Theory and How Does It Relate to English Learning? Attachment Theory, developed by British psychiatrist John Bowlby, explores how human relationships form and affect behaviour. In learning English, understanding this theory can enhance your grasp of emotional context in language, especially when interpreting song lyrics. For instance, recognizing attachment styles in songs can enrich your understanding of emotional expressions in English.
  2. Why Are Most Popular English Songs About Love and Relationships? Researchers have found that a significant majority of popular songs focus on themes of love, relationships, or sex. This prevalence is likely because these themes resonate deeply with human emotions and experiences, offering a rich context for English learners to explore complex language expressions and vocabulary related to emotions and interpersonal dynamics.
  3. How Can Listening to English Songs Improve My Language Skills? Listening to English songs is an effective way to immerse yourself in the language. It helps in improving pronunciation, expanding vocabulary, and understanding colloquial expressions. By analysing the lyrics, you also gain insights into cultural nuances and emotional contexts, which are crucial for fluency.
  4. What's the Link Between Music Genres and Attachment Styles in Song Lyrics? Different music genres often portray varying attachment styles in their lyrics. For example, Rap, Hip Hop, and R&B tend to show more Avoidant Attachment styles, focusing on independence and emotional distance. In contrast, genres like Pop often exhibit Anxious Attachment, reflecting dependency and emotional intensity. Understanding these nuances can aid in comprehending the emotional undertones in English language expressions.
  5. How Does Understanding Psychology Help in Learning English? Grasping psychological concepts like Attachment Theory can deepen your understanding of English. It allows you to comprehend not just the literal meaning of words but also the emotional and psychological contexts behind them. This understanding is crucial in interpreting literature, songs, and everyday conversations more effectively.

Most Unusual Words:

  • Attachment: A strong emotional bond or connection between people.
  • Psychotherapy: A type of therapy where talking to a therapist helps solve emotional or psychological problems.
  • Implicitly: Doing or understanding something in a way that is not directly stated.
  • Clingy: Needing to be with someone else all the time, often in an overly dependent manner.
  • Psychoanalysis: A method of studying the mind and treating mental and emotional disorders based on revealing and discussing unconscious thoughts and feelings.
  • Heartache: Emotional pain or distress, especially caused by sadness or grief from love or relationships.
  • Rapport: A friendly relationship in which people understand each other very well.
  • Anxiously: Feeling worried or nervous.
  • Avoidant: Avoiding something or someone, often due to fear or dislike.
  • Genre: A particular style or category of art, music, or literature.

Most Frequently Used Words:


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Transcript: What Your Favourite Songs Say About Your Relationships

Hi there. Today, let's talk about how popular songs in English mirror our attachment styles and our relationship experiences.

Welcome to a special English lesson, which will do more than just sharpen your language skills. Have you ever wondered how the songs we love reflect our psychological patterns. Let's talk today about an interesting study on how relationships are portrayed in popular music. I love a topic like this, which brings together things that we're aware of, but which we haven't consciously linked into a new insight. That's I N S I G H T.

An 'insight' means you go 'Aaah!', or 'Oooh gosh, yes!' And it's also known in English as 'a light bulb moment' or even an 'Aha!' moment. Let's try and have one of those in this podcast today as well as some excellent practice at English language listening as usual.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

What this podcast offers

This isn't just another English lesson. It's an exploration into the psychology of relationships and popular music.

So today I'm offering you an English language podcast with added interest to help you listen for longer. And as you already know, there are plenty more podcasts on our website at adeptenglish.com. But go to our Courses page to buy bundles of 50 podcasts - or more. You know that the English language learning part of your brain will love that! And why not kick start your English language learning for 2024?

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Music & Emotions: An English Perspective

Imagine this, you're listening to one of your favourite songs. And the lyrics seem to speak directly to your heart. Why is this?

So one of the theories used by psychotherapy, which has been popularised online - that means 'it's become common knowledge online' in recent years is Attachment Theory. That's A T T A C H M E N T.

The British psychiatrist and psychologist, John Bowlby - that's B O W L B Y, was the first to put forward the idea that 'attachment' and 'the want to make relationship' one of human beings' main goals, main needs even. It's what motivates so much of our behaviour. This seems obvious to us now.

Bowlby was around in the 1950s and in the 1960s. So we've grown up with these ideas being widespread. Our need to form relationships is a fundamental part of us being human. It shapes how we interact with others. From the secure feeling of a mother's love to the complexities of adult relationships.


An image of a wonderful chest containing a mystic light, representing discovery. Understand human bonds in everyday life.

©️ Adept English 2024

Do pets need attachment like humans?

And this isn't just about people. We see it in animals too. Dogs, cats, even lambs show attachment behaviour. Thanks to the work of people like Jaak Panksepp we recognise it in other animals too. There's a reason why reptiles in the pet shop don't cuddle up with one another like puppies and kittens do!

The reasons for this difference in behaviour is down to the structure of our brain. But that's another podcast, if you're interested! But children need to be 'attached' to other people and feel 'secure'. That's S E C U R E. And 'secure' means the person that you love isn't going anywhere. They're not going to leave. They'll be there for you.

Attachment Theory is important

We understand this implicitly now. But before the work of John Bowlby, when the work of Sigmund Freud was dominant, the influence of attachment as a 'normal human need' wasn't really seen or talked about very much. It's not present in Freud's work. And maybe this says quite a bit about the man himself!

Personal experience supports Attachment Theory

If I think back to being a child myself, I can say with absolute certainty that my 'primary attachment figure' was my mother - the person in the world most important to me. And as a child I can recall clearly, yes, being close to her, knowing she was there, having her attention, was pretty motivating for me as a young child. Luckily, I got what I needed there most of the time, but it underlines its importance to me. What would it have been like if I hadn't had that love and attention? How would I be different now?

There's a lot to 'Attachment Theory'. Let me know if you'd like to hear more about it in a future podcast. There's the famous work of Mary Ainsworth and Harry Harlow, as well as John Bowlby, which added to the theory.

Again, if you're familiar with Psychology, you may know these names, you may know this work. But translating this Psychology knowledge into how it works in practice in relationships is a whole other subject. It's well worth understanding, but the links aren't necessarily obvious.

An overview of Attachment Theory

So briefly, what is the 'Attachment Theory' that comes mainly from the work of John Bowlby? And what does it teach us about relationships?

The theory that is useful for each of us to understand about our patterns in relationships is that we all form attachments in one or two of several ways. You may be one of those fortunate people, who are 'securely attached' and in a 'securely attached relationship'. In that case, relationships are just not a problem for you. Relationship just works, and it's simple and comfortable.

If you have one of the other attachment styles, on the other hand, it means there are likely to be more problems.

If you have an 'Avoidant Attachment' style, for example, that's A V O I D A N T, that means that your feeling, your natural instinct is that 'relationships are risky'. You might get hurt or worse still 'trapped' in a relationship. Relationships feel 'dangerous' emotionally so you try to avoid them or you 'play around the edges' of relationship and make sure you've got 'the upper hand'. You may avoid relationship altogether. Or you may date, but avoid anything that sounds like 'commitment'.

And if you have the opposite problem, we'd say that you were 'anxiously attached' or you have 'anxious attachment', A N X I O U S. There is some confusion in the naming here, which probably reflects how the ideas have evolved. So today when we say someone has 'Anxious Attachment', we usually mean that they're very dependent emotionally on the people they're attached to.

So much so that all kinds of things may generate anxiety. Any possibility, even a tiny risk to the relationship may create anxiety in the Anxiously Attached person. So people with 'Anxious Attachment' can be quite 'clingy'. We use that word of children where they cling literally to the parent, they may have their arms wrapped around your leg! For a three year old, this is perfectly normal in their development.

But as adults in relationship, someone with 'Anxious Attachment' may need constant reassurance that you're not going to leave them. An Anxiously Attached partner may not like you going out or working away. Or they may send you text messages all the time. Anxiously Attached people work very hard to ensure that the relationship continues.

So there are many ways in which these Attachment Styles play out. But it's perhaps most visible when people are dating. D A T I N G. I spend a lot of time as a psychotherapist talking with people about the ins and outs, the actions and reactions on dating apps because it's so problematic.

So let's talk about that study that relates this to music. Researchers analysed the 'lyrics' - that means the words - of top hits from 2019 to identify what Attachment Styles are being shown in the songs.

The study was called 'Love Lies: A Content Analysis of Romantic Attachment Style in Popular Music' by McKell A Jorgensen-Wells and others at Brigham Young University in Utah in the US. That's where the study was done.

The link's in the transcript on the website as well as the link to the article by Bianca Setionago, which brought this study to my attention. So the researchers took 100 popular songs, and unlike my songs in last week's podcast, they were fairly recent songs from 2019. The top 100 songs from 2019.

Is love the main theme of most songs?

The researchers analysed the words and the relationship Attachment Styles they felt were being shown. What I thought was interesting to start with, of the 100 songs, only 13 were not about love or relationships. Which meant that fully 87 percent of the songs were about this. Interesting in itself. Most popular songs are about love, romance, or sex. On reflection, that sounds right, doesn't it?

So, of these songs about love, relationships or sex, the analysis also showed that 86 percent of songs about love showed either Avoidant or Anxious Attachment.

And this was further broken down. 33%? showed Avoidant Attachment and a full 54 percent showed signs of Anxious Attachment in the song lyrics. I guess you could say that great art often comes from experiences of pain and hurt and difficulty.

Are securely attached people's love-lives boring to us?!

But the researchers found that only a small percentage of the songs showed Secure Attachment style or were neutral. That was around 14 percent in total on this. Perhaps relationships that are Securely Attached are less interesting to other people. There's less pain to talk about, of course, or sing about!

Is avoidant attachment a sign of strength?

The researchers also found that music genre, that's G E N R E was related to Attachment Style. For instance, Rap, Hip Hop and R& B songs were less likely to show Anxious Attachment and more likely to show Avoidant Attachment. In these songs it was noted that often the subject - that means the singer - did not need emotional closeness and thrived on being alone. Interesting - too song lyrics that focused on love were often either Secure or Anxiously Attached and rarely Avoidant, whereas songs which focused on sex were often Avoidant in flavour.

Does heartache create better music?

I guess in some ways this isn't surprising. The best songs often portray what we might call ' heartache'. That's H E A R T A C H E. The pain we experience when a relationship breaks up, perhaps. Maybe this state of feeling leads to the best songs that are written. Examples from my recent podcast, 708, where I talked about music. You could say this certainly of Dido's 'White Flag'.

Perhaps a little bit like German poet, Goethe or Roman poet, Catullus. People write their best material when they're in pain.

And if I think of my reservations about Kanye West, maybe that's because It portrays an Avoidant Style of Attachment.

Scandal In Britain-English Lesson Meets Real-Life Drama

Can music influence our relationships?

But what this study also worries about is the influence on teenagers of the Attachment Styles portrayed in popular music. There's concern about Avoidant or 'uncaring' attitudes, Which could be portrayed as 'normal', or 'how you should be'. I understand that, but I think that the researchers have it the wrong way round. And they're worrying unnecessarily.

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Or does our relationship experience influce our choice of music?

Teenagers listen to a lot of music and are often experimenting in having their first relationships. And it can be quite painful. So these songs and song lyrics become important because they express the feelings that teenagers are already experiencing. And that's true for all of us, adults too. And accounts for the popularity of many songs. We've all been there! My suggestion would be that our Attachment Style may influence our music choices at different times but our music choices don't make our Attachment Style. Attachment Styles are set instead by our own experiences in life, especially of relationship. This is what John Bowlby and others taught us.

As ever, let us know what you think of this podcast. And if you want more on Attachment Styles, just let me know!


Send us feedback. I'm really interested to hear what you've got to say.

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com




The voice of Adeptenglish, loves English and wants to help people who want to speak English fluently.
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