We all know that love can be complex. So here i something to think about, are you actually in love with your partner or are you merely attached to them? I have had clients lately that are unclear about the differences so I thought I would post some of the differences for people to consider. If you understand the differences perhaps you will discover that you have the tools at your disposal to grow yourself and your relationship to one of genuine love…and isn’t genuine love what we all want?
Attachment is selfish, Love is selfless
Did you ever notice that when you are in love your focus is on making the other person happy? Taking care of the other person becomes one of, if not your primary concern. You find yourself always thinking of new ways to make your partner feel loved. Oh yes, and you DON’T keep score. You don’t argue over who was supposed to walk the dog or take the car through the car wash. You wouldn’t consider trying emotional blackmail to manipulate them or try some other way to dominate the relationship. Do you remember how that feels?
On the other hand, if you are only ‘attached’ to someone you find yourself focused on how THEY can make you happy. You may find yourself trying to control them because you are afraid of them leaving and you have become dependent on them. Rather than dealing with your own issues, you use your partner as a tool to improve your self-esteem. You make them responsible for your happiness and thus give them power over your life and get angry when they fail to bring you happiness or contentment.
Love is cathartic, Attachment is calculating
When you share true love with another you are able to truly be yourself. You find that your partner is unafraid of the true you and encourages you to be who you genuinely are in life. Your partner is not afraid of your weaknesses, and you are free to expose them as an act of faith in the relationship…and your partner. This shared trust develops and can become one of the most powerful catalysts for your growth both as a couple and personally. When you encounter actual love, it transcends control. Love simply isn’t controlling. You will find that your partner will grow in their ability to accept you for who you are and encourage you to chase your dreams. They won’t need to control your life.
Attachment, conversely, tends to feed controlling behavior. Discouraging your partner from doing things they enjoy, playing mind games or putting an unhealthy focus on pleasing them are all signs of unhealthy attachment. Attempting to manipulate them at every turn is common here.
Attachment is burdening, Love is shared evolution
When you find yourself in love, both you and your partner grow as individuals and as a couple. You both strive to be the best individual you can be in order to be the best partner in the relationship you can imagine. You become better than you could have ever been on your own. When you think about it, you and your partner stimulate each others desire to grow and improve…and you do it for each other!
When you consider attachment, your inability to solve your own issues and your desire to control your partner limits your own growth as well as that of your partner. The energy spent controlling can not possibly be spent growing. You can grow unnaturally dependent on your partner and not surprisingly you just never seem to make it to the kinds of feelings and life you long for. The harder you work at it, (controlling) the more elusive it becomes. This is not healthy.
Love lasts, Attachment is transitory
It has been written that love is not transitory. In point of fact, love survives long after you and your partner have moved on with your lives. Regardless of whether or not your love survived the passage of time, if you were really in love, that person will retain a place in your heart and you will forever wish them well. Their place in your memory is healthy and secure. It can be no other way with true love.
If as with attachment, you are not truly in love, then you will hold on to offences long after your parting of the ways. You almost certainly will maintain feelings of bitterness and betrayal stemming from the supposition that your partner had some responsibility to make you happy and refused to do so.
Attachment is ego-feeding, Love is ego-limiting
You find out quickly when you are in love that you become much less self-centered. You focus on the needs of your partner. Your growing relationship functions to reduce your ego anxieties and promotes personal growth and feeds unselfishness. You become more loving. The relationship powers positive change for you both. You discover, often to your surprise that you and your partner have the courage to share your weaknesses and transgressions in life. When you do such a thing and communicate from the heart your world expands.
Conversely, when your relationship is based on attachment you and your relationship are dominated by ego. Do you know someone who repetitively tumbles into a seemingly uninterrupted stream of unsatisfying relationships, each with the same habitual difficulties? Did you notice that they never seem to be able to look within themselves and resolve their issues? Attachment creates dependency in a relationship triggering the feeling that you just can’t be happy without your partner. Your reliance on them to help you solve, or at the least to forget your own problems is a hallmark of such a relationship.
I hope all of you find your soul mate and if you aren’t in a relationship right now take heart. He or she is out there. You can find the right person and build that wonder inspiring relationship. Until then, why not work on being the best you that you can manage to become? You attract in your life what you are…you sort against what you are not. So as the saying goes, if you want to improve the quality of your relationships, improve yourself. You are the only thing they all have in common.
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Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.