One of our core desires is to love and be loved. However, we often fail to learn the difference between emotional attachment and love. While love focuses on the other person, emotional attachment arises from a sense of possessiveness. Love talks about ‘you’ while emotional attachment talks about ‘I’. Read below how love is often perceived in our world and to learn what loving really is.


“What is unconditional love?” someone asked me the other day. “How do I love someone unconditionally?” In this post and the next, I’ll write a bit about love and how I see it. Although, in the past, I’ve written on this subject, yet, allow me to further elucidate this topic. “What does it even mean when we say I love you?” I asked a group of people. “It means we have feelings for the other person,” one answered. But what does having feelings mean?

Before I write about unconditional love or even just love, it would help to distinguish between love and attachment. Here’s a little story for you:

A man, the quiet type, was sitting with his friends in a local inn. After he had a couple of drinks, he opened up a bit and said to his friends, “Do you love me?”
“Of course, we do,” said his friends, “that’s why we are here together.”
“So, do you know what I need?”
No one answered.
“If you don’t know what I need then how can you say you love me?”

This says it all. Love is about understanding what the other person needs and not what you think they should need. This is the key difference between love and attachment. The former is about finding yourself in the happiness of the other person, whereas the latter is about feeling happy to have the other person your way. We can’t say we love someone unless we find out what do they actually need and make an attempt to give them that.

Emotional attachment is like buying a golden cage for the bird you love, feeding it the finest food, it is wanting to keep that bird within your sight, and love is opening the cage and setting it free. Granted, the problem arises when the bird says I want to eat your food and I want to rest in your cage but I want to fly free at my leisure and will. Well, welcome to the world of relationships. Strange but real.

Emotional attachment says you are mine and love says I am yours. Love is not worried about exclusivity, it is about peace, it is about happiness whereas attachment is just another term for possessiveness, and not just possessiveness but exclusive possessiveness at that. Attachment says what I have from you, no one else should have it. I’m not labeling it as right or wrong, nor am I suggesting that a relationship, notably marriage, cannot have a mutual framework, in fact, it must. I’m simply stating that attachment is about instructions and rules whereas love is about inspiration and care.

Of course, I’ve given you the ideal definition but this is not an ideal world. So, in our world, love is generally no more than a claim and mostly it has attachment, possessiveness and desire rolled into one. Love says I don’t want to hurt you, attachment says I don’t want to lose you. See the difference.

“I hate pasta. I don’t want to see pasta ever again,” a husband said to his wife.
“How can I ever understand what you want?” screamed his missus. “On Monday you liked pasta, on Tuesday you loved it, on Wednesday you ate it, on Thursday you liked it, on Friday you had it and suddenly on Saturday, you tell me you hate pasta. You’re unbelievable.”

If you want your love to bloom, keep the freshness alive. Freedom fuels freshness. Love is about understanding, attachment is about enforcing. One is about setting free and the other holding on. Falling in love may be an instant act, but seeing it through is a slow, steady, careful and a delicate process. Falling in love is the easy bit, wanting someone more than anything else in the world is not something out of the ordinary either. After all, you want them because “you” like them, and therefore, you want to have them, so you try hard to make yourself wanted by the other person. When that doesn’t happen, you try to hold on to the other person hoping one day they may start wanting you as intensely as you desire them. This is attachment. Sad though it may sound, but if they don’t want you now, they won’t want you later either.

You want to be loved by someone else because you haven’t yet learned to love yourself, you haven’t yet ignited the fire in you, you have tried offering yourself to many in the past but it hasn’t worked. It hasn’t worked because you are not offering yourself to you, you are not living your own life, you are not focusing on you, instead, you are living to be a part of someone else’s life, to be the focus of other person. You deserve better.

Why is it so hard to love without attachment? Because you are trying to look upon love as an independent emotion. The truth is, it is anything but independent. In the next post, I’ll write about the four pillars of love and will also touch upon what to do when you love someone but they don’t love you back.

Peace.
Swami

 

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It’s important to identify if you are in love or if it is an emotional attachment, to build a healthy relationship. Some questions on emotional attachment are answered below to understand it better.
What is emotional attachment?

Attachment is natural, even comforting at times but it has a price. If you are happy riding the emotional roller-coaster of life, by all means then, you can cling to your current temperament and feelings. Emotional attachment is but the inability to let go of someone or something.

The root cause of attachment is ignorance. Whatever it is that you are attached to, it will tie you down. It’s as simple as that. Read more here.


How does one break emotional attachment?

That awareness of when a particular trait of your personality is taking over your life is at the heart of first recognizing your baggage and then dropping it. With mindfulness, if we tame the underlying ruling passion, all symptoms of the trait will go away on their own.

Until you make peace with your existence and inculcate mindfulness in your life, the same cyclical emotions will continue to dictate the course of your life making you run for the same thing repeatedly. If you wish to take a different route, the vehicle must be steered in that direction. Ultimately, only one person can break your emotional attachment: you.

Read more here.


How can one avoid emotional attachment?

We tend to take things personally and the more personally I’ll take something, the greater the hurt. it’s natural to take the matter to heart when you’ve invested your emotions, energy, and resources into something over a period of time. Having said that, the truth, however, remains: more emotional attachment brings greater pain.

Are we then to say that there’s no way of avoiding this pain? Well, there is. Complete avoidance, maybe not, a great reduction, yes. How you ask?

Read more here.


When does emotional attachment become unhealthy?

Pleasures in life are like our shadow. The moment we want to grab them, own them, the struggle starts. Emotional attachment is one such shadow. Just like the center of gravity determines the balance of any physical object, we have a center of bliss that affects our emotional and spiritual balance.

The key is to have your center of bliss rooted in your inner world. It’s never too late to discover it.

Read more here.


When can love turn into unhealthy emotional attachment?

Love makes no attempt to make the other person want what you want. That is best left to possessiveness and ego. To love someone the way you want to love them is not really love. If you are loving him or her the way you like to be loved then you may not be loving them at all. Saying I love you has no meaning if you don’t know what matters to the one you love.

If you have not cared to find that out or if you can’t support them in what they care about, you are mistaking attachment for love. Emotional attachment does not necessarily mean love.

Read more here.


How can I release an emotional attachment towards someone who doesn’t love me back?

This is the wisdom of life: to move along. Or else you run the risk of becoming rigid and closed. Stagnation is the opposite of evolution, spiritual or any other. When we cannot release emotional attachment towards somebody, we are stagnant.

Loosen up and walk away from your loss if you wish to make your journey worthwhile. What’s there to lose anyway? There was a time when you didn’t have it, so what if it’s not there now. How come it’s your loss? You are where you were.

Read more here.


How can I release an emotional attachment towards someone who doesn’t love me back?

This is the wisdom of life: to move along. Or else you run the risk of becoming rigid and closed. Stagnation is the opposite of evolution, spiritual or any other. When we cannot release emotional attachment towards somebody, we are stagnant.

Loosen up and walk away from your loss if you wish to make your journey worthwhile. What’s there to lose anyway? There was a time when you didn’t have it, so what if it’s not there now. How come it’s your loss? You are where you were.

Read more here.


How can I release an emotional attachment towards something I can’t change?

When you start to believe that having certain things will make you happy, you weaken yourself emotionally. If your emotional state is dependent on many things, you can well imagine a lack of emotional stability. For each time any of those things go missing, it will disturb your emotional balance.

The journey of turning inward is realizing your true nature, so you may rise above the worldly emotions. It does not mean that you no longer enjoy the world, but that you learn to discard any emotion at will, anytime you so wish. Emotional attachment towards anybody falls away easily as you begin to understand the relative nature of everything around you.

Read more here.