Detachment has revolutionized my relationships and taken them to the next level.
Crazy, right? When I claim that detachment transcends love, some people laugh at me. It’s insane—how can I love someone, yet be detached from them?
I’ve been there more than once, therefore, I know that detachment is the most imperative element to achieve a profound and successful union. I can’t put enough stress on the importance of taking detachment to heart.
However, we must really understand what detachment means, because as I’ve come to notice, “detach” is a word that terrifies a whole lot of people.
Instead of saying “detachment,” we oftentimes like to use the term “healthy attachment.” From my own experience, I can tell you no such thing exists. There is no healthy attachment, but there’s certainly something called a healthy detachment.
Attachment is never healthy. Whether we’re attached to a person, a drug, an idea, a place, or a thing, attachment only makes us miserable and dependent.
Attachment is a form of addiction. The most dangerous form of addiction in life is the one that includes people. Being addicted to someone is a double-edged sword that hurts you and your counterpart. It leads to anxiety, depression, agitation, anger, and frustration—especially when your source of addiction is not available.
To start off, I will explain what detachment is not, in hopes of eradicating any false notions we have about this.
>> Detachment doesn’t mean becoming aloof or closed off. It has nothing to do with selfishness, impertinence, or indifference.
>> It doesn’t mean to stop being vulnerable or passionate.
>> It doesn’t mean to cut off intimacy with our partner or to not move mountains for the person we love.
>> It doesn’t mean we become less than who we are, and it certainly doesn’t mean we jeopardize our relationship with the other person.
We think detachment is a wall that we build—but, the fact is, it’s a bridge that leads to a deeper, more intimate love.
We usually work on emotionally detaching from someone after a breakup. Nonetheless, emotional detachment is essential in all our present relationships—and I’m not only referring to the romantic ones; attachment also exists among family members and friends.
So then, what is detachment?
When we detach from someone, almost everything stays the same. You still love them and care about them, but there’s no more dependency and expectations.
Detachment means shifting our focus from the other person to ourselves. It’s a space that we create that allows us to be at peace with who the other person is and with what they do.
I recently bought a self-inflatable mattress, and the way it works is pretty akin to the notion of detachment. To use the mattress, I have to open the valve and leave the mattress alone for five minutes to inflate itself. Then, I lock it and use it afterward. Without opening the valve for a few minutes, there’s no way for the mattress to inflate itself.
People in relationships are like self-inflatable mattresses. If we don’t give them space every once in a while to recharge or to be themselves, we can’t be with them properly.
Detachment is beneficial for both individuals, because it allows us to become more aware and less needy. We start observing the relationship objectively and can then make wise choices when we must.
You become more you and less like your partner.
You worry less.
You experience love on the level of your being, rather than on the level of the mind. The mind is associated with jealousy, anger, greed, blame, and judgment. If you experience those feelings in your relationships, then your love is based on attachment. You most likely maintain an image of your partner in your mind and want them to fulfill it. Whenever they don’t, your mind presides over the situation. However, through detachment, our love becomes authentic and unconditional.
Now, how can we detach yet still be in love, stay passionate, and be vulnerable?
As a start, we need to find ways to make ourselves happy being alone. Besides the activities that we share with our partner, we must cultivate our own. Be happy with your partner, but don’t turn him or her into your essential source of happiness.
I always remind myself that people and circumstances will change. I can’t turn people into my main source of joy, because if they decide to leave, I’m the only one who suffers the consequences.
We must also understand that we cannot control others. Relinquish your control. Trying to change people we love (or “fix” them) is to no avail. We can help when they ask for help, or stand by them when they go through difficult times, but we have to give up the thought of molding them into what we think they should be.
The next step is to figure out what might be keeping us attached. Are they filling a void within us that we need to work on? Do we need their love because we haven’t yet truly loved ourselves? Fill your empty cup with your own bottle—don’t use anyone else’s.
Another essential point is to know that we shouldn’t hurt who we love. If we truly love someone, we don’t suffocate them. We have to give them space to be themselves and love them just as they are.
When we detach from the person we love, we no longer expect them to make us happy or to fill the empty spaces in our life. The bond between us and them strengthens, because it’s no longer built on expectations and dependency. We become more vulnerable, more passionate, and more ourselves.
We don’t seek completeness; we only share it. This is the true essence of love.
This passage from The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran, portrays the perfect explanation of detachment:
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together, and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.”
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Unsplash/Allef Vinicius
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Nicole Cameron
Social editor: Danielle Beutell