Attachment is the root of suffering—or is it?
It may be that we enter into relationships because they serve a purpose—a divine lesson that we are meant to learn.
Maintaining non-attachment in relationships is healthy, especially when it comes to specific outcomes. But, if we truly remain unattached to our partner, then we also don’t open ourselves up to the vulnerability that is present when we become intimately connected to someone.
In many ways we are taught that everything is replaceable.
If something breaks, we just go out and buy a new one. If we’re unhappy in a job, we quit and find work elsewhere. If someone is bothering or triggering us, we simply block them and start spending time with other people.
But, the reality is that being unattached prevents us from developing true intimacy with a partner.
In order to get to the place where we are able to explore the intimacy that comes from sharing a mind, body, and spirit with someone else, we also have to develop a healthy attachment to them and to the relationship that we are building.
We can’t expect to be able to move deeper with a potential lover if we are trying to remain unattached to their presence. The truth is, love isn’t perfect, and no matter how great a relationship is, we won’t receive those big rewards if we also don’t show up for those big risks as well.
There is a balance that needs to be struck here, though.
Healthy attachment doesn’t mean no attachment. It means that we won’t cling to anything that takes away the authenticity of ourselves or our partners. In love, often the biggest obstacle is us and the barriers that we have put in place so that we won’t get hurt again. Yet, what we do is mask these wounds and needs by saying we’re simply practicing non-attachment.
Think of your closest personal relationships. For many of us they are those we share with our parents, siblings, and children. Part of why these relationships are wonderful is that we are attached to them; we expect them to be there for us and plan on returning the favor. We hope that they will accept us for who we are and, regardless of arguments, nothing can change the relationship we have with them.
We are attached in these relationships because we also feel a comfort in knowing that they can’t truly be lost.
Yet, in romantic relationships we often feel the need to just “play the game.” We withhold our true feelings or intentions out of fear. We try to keep things casual when the very act of having an intimate romantic relationship is not to be casual. By attempting to remain unattached to our lovers we are putting up walls so that they don’t get too close and hurt us if they leave.
We all need someone, more than likely multiple someones, in order to feel supported and to become successful in this life. To deny that fact is also to deny the primary essence of these relationships. We aren’t meant to live only on the surface of love, or to remain unaffected if an important relationship ends.
However, in order to open ourselves up to developing a healthy level of attachment, we also have to get real about our needs and fears. We have to be willing to explore who we really are, and what our strengths and limitations might be.
Once we can do that, we are no longer approaching relationships looking to cling onto another, or to have them fulfill or heal us—we are acknowledging that it’s possible to enter into a relationship with someone who complements us.
It’s about opening to the type of relationship where our partner picks up where we leave off.
And, it’s about opening ourselves up to become attached to them, to risk getting hurt, to believe that this person entered our life for a reason and that it wouldn’t be the same if they left. If a potential lover doesn’t add value to our life, then what is the point of being in a relationship?
We don’t need to be in a romantic relationship if all we are looking for is someone to split the popcorn with at Friday’s double feature. But, if we are looking to build with someone, to share our innermost thoughts and fears with another, then we have to also become attached to them and the relationship on some level.
We have to acknowledge that what we are experiencing with someone is unique and different from any other connection that we have experienced before. It shouldn’t be about whether we can picture our lives without that special someone, but would we want to.
It’s scary to become attached to another person, especially someone who isn’t biologically obligated to stay. But, there is also no other way to develop a lasting relationship.
This is where the need for balance occurs.
We have to let ourselves feel attached to someone and to the relationship that we have with them, but we have to remain unattached to a specific outcome. The person that we come to love more deeply than anyone else has the free will to leave us—or it may mean that we find this person stays forever.
We can’t play it safe when it comes to love, and whether we want to or not, the name of the game in human relationships is about attachment, not a lack thereof.
There are many ways to fall in love and have it last forever. Remaining unattached to the person we are hoping to spend the rest of our lives with isn’t one of them.
Author: Kate Rose
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Emily Bartran
Social Editor: Taia Butler