Am I in Love? Love versus Attachment
Aaaaahhhh…how sweet love can be! Our heart flutters when we lay eyes on the object of our affection. We long to be with the person we love, any chance we get. We spend the day thinking about them and drift off into a daydream that reminds us just how in love we are. We patiently wait for their call or text and look forward to the next time that we can be together again. We claim that we are one with the one we love because we have lost our sense of self. We want to share every waking moment and are willing to sacrifice who we are because of how deep, profound and real our love is.
But is this love or is this attachment? With attachment comes the feeling that we cannot live without the other. With love there is the feeling that exists in the moment and a knowing that, that very moment will be gone. We are alive in that moment as opposed to thinking about what’s next, what if, and whether there will be a future with this person. Attachment gives rise to jealousy and envy. Attachment attempts to control the other person and can often leave us feeling exhausted because we will do everything to keep that person near us. Or, we will do anything not to upset them, even if it means giving up our truth about who we are. Attachments hurt, break our hearts and can often feel like riding a roller coaster. Attachments can make us bitter because somehow, we set the expectation that our loved one is supposed to meet our every need and when they can’t or won’t, we become resentful.
Love flows. Love lives in a space without borders. It is free and liberating.
Love is sitting in the same room with someone without having to say or do much of anything. It gives rise to the higher self and a higher power. Love does not concern itself with desires, wants or needs. Love is pure and simple. It’s uncomplicated and not painful. Attachment wants to answer to the fear of being alone, lonely and it wants to be predictable. Love is content with the experience of being, breathing, walking and a knowing that we are one with all that surrounds us. So, if we love, there is no need to search for love because it is who we are.
So, how can we love without attachment? If we journey into our self and soul and can find the courage to face our pain and insecurities, then we will be on our way to loving without attachment.
My own personal experience with love and attachment, as well as my work with individuals, couples and families, opened my heart, mind and soul and allowed me to learn about the differences between attachment and love. Many of us can remember a time when we felt angry, confused, lost and lonely because we were no longer in a relationship that we, at one point, thought was the end all be all. But many of us learned to move on because we understood that we should not, and do not own anyone.
I will say that the time in which I began to better understand love versus attachment was when I gave birth to my daughter. It was at this moment in time that I learned that I had developed an unconditional bond and attachment to another human being. But as she came into her own, I understood that loving her was about letting her be her own person. It was about encouraging her to experience life and not stopping her or suffocating her because I felt she had to live her life a certain way. I didn’t need to live vicariously through her. Instead I watched her soar to new heights that I had never imagined possible. But I also had to stop myself from sheltering her, because she had to learn about life’s ups and downs. Loving her taught me to allow her to be free.
The same can be said about any relationship whether it’s with a family member, significant other, or friend. We need to trust and know that they are capable of making life choices that will bring them joy and fulfillment. If they do not, we cannot attach ourselves to the idea that we can make them into a better person if “we love them” the way they are supposed to be loved. We cannot change any one nor should we make ourselves responsible to do so. If we think we can change them, then what we have with the person is probably not love, but an attachment, which is based in the ego.
So, if we think we're in love, we should try to ask ourselves “What am I in love with? Is it the idea of being with the person? Is it that they make us feel a certain way? Is it that I am no longer alone or lonely? If it’s any of these concepts then more than likely, we are experiencing an attachment and not love. I learned to ask myself, what do I love about this moment? What about this moment allows me to experience joy? Do I love myself and the universe in its entirety? My answers to these questions, have through time, been much more than my being with a person. The answers to these questions can be answered by simply being love itself. No attachments, no expectations.