by Thibaut Meurisse
Are you in love with your partner or are you just attached to them? Love can be complicated, but this article explains a few of the differences between attachment and real love. I hope that these explanations will aid you in nurturing your current relationship or creating one based on genuine love in the future.
1. Love is selfless, attachment is selfish
When you’re in love, you focus on making the other person happy. You’re always thinking of ways to make sure that your partner feels loved and fulfilled. You aren’t keeping score, arguing over who helps more, or fighting over who is supposed to wash the dishes. You don’t emotionally blackmail your partner, try to manipulate them, or seek to dominate the relationship.
When you’re merely attached to someone, you’re focused upon the ways in which they can make you happy. You become heavily dependent upon your partner and may even try to control him or her to avoid abandonment. Instead of confronting your own issues, you use your partner to improve your self-esteem and fill a void within you. You believe that they are responsible for your happiness and become frustrated and angry if they fail to bring you contentment.
2. Love is liberating, attachment is controlling
Mutual love allows you to be your true self. Your partner encourages you to be who you genuinely are and you won’t be afraid to expose your weaknesses. Mutual trust develops and becomes a powerful catalyst for personal growth for both of you. Love is never controlling. In actuality, love transcends control. Your partner’s ability to accept you for who you are and encourage you to pursue your dreams allows you to let go of the need to control their life.
Attachment, on the other hand, tends to fuel controlling behavior. You may discourage your partner from spending time with their friends, play mind games, or put an unhealthy level of focus on pleasing them. You may even try to manipulate them into staying with you regardless of their feelings.
3. Love is mutual growth, attachment is encumbering
If you’re in love, you and your partner will grow together. When both of you work to become the best versions of yourselves, you’ll become better than you could have on your own. In short, your partner stimulates your growth, and you do the same for them.
In cases of attachment, your urge to control and your inability to solve your own problems restricts your growth as well as your partner’s. Your unresolved issues cause unnecessary dependence upon your significant other. Not surprisingly, this restricts the growth of both parties and makes it difficult to love in a healthy way.
4. Love is everlasting, attachment is transient
Love survives the passage of time. You and your partner may ultimately breakup, be it temporarily or permanently. If you were truly in love, however, that person will always have a place in your heart and you will continue to wish them well for the rest of their life.
If, on the other hand, you were merely attached to them, you will likely hold resentment after a breakup. You may even experience feelings of betrayal. These feelings stem from the assumption that your partner had an obligation to make you happy that, in your eyes, was not fulfilled.
5. Love is ego-reducing, attachment is ego-boosting
When in love, you become less self-centered. Your relationship serves to reduce your ego, fosters your growth, and encourages you to become less selfish and more loving. The relationship you have with your partner fuels positive changes for both of you. More importantly, you’ll both have the courage to share your weaknesses, expose your vulnerabilities, and communicate from the heart.
Alternatively, relationships based on attachment are typically dominated by the ego. This is why many people repeatedly fall into a continuous stream of unsatisfying relationships, each of which involves the same, recurrent problems. You find it difficult to look within and resolve your issues. This generates dependency within your relationship, which triggers the feeling that you can’t be happy without your partner. You rely on your significant other to solve your problems or, at the very least, help you forget them.
If you aren’t in love right now, I sincerely hope that you will find your soul mate and build a magnificent relationship with that person. Until then, why not work on becoming a better and more loving version of yourself? As the saying goes “Like attracts like”. If that’s the case, it’s wise to become the person that you wish to attract!