Have you ever wondered if you get attached to men like a junkie to heroin?
The other day I passed some teenagers on the street, they were in school uniform, and as they walked past me the boy put his arm around the girl and pulled her in for a sweet cuddle…
Seeing this reminded me one of my first relationships. I was sixteen and he was two years my senior. At first, I didn’t really notice him but there was this party we both went to, where he spent most of the night showering me with attention…
At this time in my life, I was probably at my most insecure. I didn’t think I was particularly pretty and most boys didn’t really notice me. Though, he made me feel really beautiful, smart, and important. After that party, I sure started noticing him and before long we were together.
Every time someone asks me about the difference between emotional attachment and love, I tell them this story. We were together for nine months and for the most part, it was good. We were in love, I thought, and we would always be together!
Yeah, I know, I was sixteen!
Oh, the beauty of young, naive and innocent “love”!
We broke up when I realized — despite my best efforts to ignore the facts — that he had fallen for another girl.
I had a hard time getting over this relationship. It felt like suddenly the world had ended – the world where I felt adored, accepted and appreciated was gone. But over time, I surfaced from the slump the breakup had plunged me into and started figuring out my emotional self. What I learned ended up serving me well later, as from an early age this experience helped me to distinguish between love and attachment.
You see, I realized that what I had with that boy wasn’t love. It was an emotional attachment, pure and simple. I didn’t want him. I thought I needed him. I needed him to feel better about myself. I needed him to make me feel like the queen of the world (well, up to a certain point, before he moved on to the next girl). I needed him to feed my self-esteem. I didn’t authentically love him.
This is the big difference between love and attachment and it is also why we so often confuse one for the other. Needs are a very strong factor when it comes to behavior — we would do pretty much anything to satisfy a need, be it hunger or attachment. Yet, unlike food, emotional attachments can be harmful.
During my relationship of attachment, I neglected a friendship with another guy simply because my boyfriend suspected he was interested in me. Yes, the other guy indeed had feelings for me but I never let him act on them because of my boyfriend. Maybe I would have been happier with him, had I realized my attachment problem earlier.
What is Attachment and What is Love?
Attachment is riddled with fear. Love is not. I say this with all the certainty of someone who’s known both. When you love someone, really love them, you can be yourself with them. You won’t feel the urge to create and maintain some better image of yourself so he won’t leave you. You won’t stay with someone because you don’t think anyone else will want you. You won’t give up on your hopes and dreams in case he can’t handle your drive or motivation!
You don’t need the man you love. You want him in your life because you value love and you really like and value him too!
Love versus attachment means freedom versus control. It means growth versus a rut.
Next time you wonder if you love your partner or are emotionally attached to him, think about how you feel around him and how you feel when he’s away.
Does he sometimes make you feel tense for no apparent reason?
Do you suffer badly when he’s away or do you just miss him but feel fine otherwise?
Do you feel that you need him to feel safe or worthy?
Emotional attachment, healthy emotional attachment, is part of the foundation of true love. But it is not a synonym of love. Attachment is a kind of addiction. Love is not addictive. Love is true — it can survive distances in time and space that attachment would never survive. It’s the only kind of relationship worth having, believe me.