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Love vs Attachment: How Do I Know What I'm Feeling?

by Olivia Surtees

Love and attachment are two completely different emotions and situations. A lot of the time, the attachment will play with your mind and make you think that you’re in love. So how can we really determine what you are feeling? Perhaps you are reading this article because you have met someone that gives you all the feelings of what you regard as love, but you’re unsure of what has actually happened is you are attached to them? If so, you are in the right place.

In this article, we are going to pick apart the many differences between being in love and being attached to someone, so you can figure out what it is that you are truly feeling towards this person.

Attachment is egocentric. Love is altruistic.

This is the first point I have made, for a reason. It is probably the most important thing that you need to understand the differences between attachment and love.

We get attached to people because of the way that they make us feel when we are around them. Then, when we continue to see them, we do it because we know that they make us feel this way. They might make us feel a little less lonely, they might encourage and support us. We need them there to top up our self-esteem, and because this person is good at doing that for us, we get attached to them and mistake it for love. When you are attached, you are thinking of yourself, and yourself only.

When you are in love, you think about the other person. Of course, it helps that when you are around them you feel great, but that’s not the reason you stick around. You love them, and you want to make them happy. You could say that being in love makes you put them as the top priority in your life, even over yourself.

Attachment makes you feel distraught when you aren’t with that person. Love makes you miss the person.

Attachment makes you feel alone and sad when you are not with the person you are attached too. This is because they are the reason you feel great and they boost your confidence so much when you are around them. When you are attached to someone, you can’t get enough of them. You feel like you need to be around them all the time. You get almost obsessed with being around this person. When you are away from them, you might feel like your feelings towards them start to dwindle and disappear, so you must see them keep it all alive.

This is when problems will start to occur. For example, when you are attached you might start to put this person over anyone, especially your friends and family. This can be dangerous because attachment does not last forever and when it is no longer there anymore, you might realize you aren’t left with anyone at your side.

Love makes you miss the person when you are apart from them. However, it doesn’t all consume your thoughts and feelings when you are not with them. When you truly are in love with someone, it doesn’t matter if you are apart for a little while, because the feeling still remains in your heart. There is no obsessive need to be with them all day, every day. You can still appreciate them from afar.

This also means that when you are truly in love because you don’t feel the need to be with them at every waking moment, you can still spend time with your other loved ones because love just makes you a more fulfilled person than you were before, it is not all-consuming.

Attachment is a surface-level connection. Love is deep and passionate.

When you are attached to someone, as we have already said, you are attached to them because of how they make you feel. You will never really connect with this person on a deeper level because what you are feeling is a vain and selfish kind of emotion. You also won’t feel the need to get to know them on a deeper level, because for now, you are happy with how everything is between you. You are getting complimented and supported, and that is all you need from the relationship.

Love is the complete opposite of that. When you are in love, you feel so passionately for this person. You want to know everything about them, what they love and hate, what their childhood was like and what strange quirks they have. You soak up every single thing you can about them because you want to know them on a deeper level. You are creating an unbreakable connection with them, getting to know them deeper better than you have with anyone else ever before.

Attachment is controlling. Love encourages freedom.

When you are attached to someone, you might realize that you are using controlling behavior, so that you can spend the most amount of time with this person as possible. For example, you might discourage the person from spending time with their friends and family because you want them all to yourself. It might get to a more extreme level where you become jealous. This could mean that you start to manipulate the person into focusing on you and you only. This is really unhealthy behavior, and it shows that you are definitely not in love with them. You are trying to control someone, and you wouldn’t do this if you really cared about them and their feelings.

When you are in love, of course, you want to spend as much time possible with the person that you love, but you would never put your needs above them. You understand that what’s going to make them happy is to keep spending time with their family and friends, so you encourage them to do so. You would never tell them what to do because you respect them and care about how they feel. You would never try to manipulate them into spending time with you because then it isn’t real. You don’t want to make your partner unhappy or ever put them in the situation that they have to choose you over their own freedom. A strong and loving relationship goes off the basis that two independent people come together and love each other, without controlling each other.

The attachment will never help either person to grow. Love encourages you both to grow.

Being attached to someone means that they take up a lot of your time, and you, therefore, take up a lot of theirs. It is a selfish situation, where you are always trying to make yourself feel good by being around that person. You are not actually that bothered with what they are doing, as long as they make you feel good. So, you won’t encourage personal development and growth for them, and you are also restricting it for yourself. You are not only stopping independent growth but being in a situation of attachment does not allow the relationship between you to grow, because it starts off on the wrong basis. You are not trying to feel mutual love together, you are taking what you want and need from the relationship. It is entirely selfish and consuming.

When you are in love with someone, you will try to encourage them to be the best version of themselves. They will also do the same for you. You will both be positively affecting each other’s lives. You will provide support for your partner, and they will do the same for you. You both care about what the other person wants, so you will help them to achieve whatever it is. A loving relationship is where you both stimulate each other to take on your lives in the most successful way possible, knowing that you always have someone that will be there to help you, support you and love you.

Attachment makes you a more self-centered person. Love makes you a better version of yourself.

When you are attached to someone, as I have already said, you are carrying on the relationship for your own selfish reasons. So, if you are constantly doing something to benefit yourself, you are only going to get increasingly self-centered. Also, because what you are basing this relationship off is surface-level interaction that keeps you feeling good, you will be becoming increasingly shallower. In the future, you might, therefore, find it difficult to make and sustain a deeper level of connection with people. Essentially, you are not growing in the world of love, but you are in a world of selfishness.

When you are in love with someone, all you want to do is become a better person. Not only will you want to do this to impress them, but you will genuinely want to do it to make their lives better because you are in it. The feeling of love makes you feel unbelievably lucky, and therefore you will also show gratitude to not only the person you are with but also the world as a whole. 

Through loving your partner purely, you will become a better and more loving person. You will also be able to notice the more negative qualities that you have, and you will try to fix them so that they don’t destroy your relationship. By loving someone else, you can look deeper within yourself and fix the parts of you that don’t resonate with your kind heart.

Attachment never compromises. Love is full of ‘meeting in the middle’.

People who are in an attached relationship with each other, because of its self-centered foundations, will never compromise. They will both stay stubborn. This relationship stems from being selfish, so of course, they are never going to surrender to what someone else wants. It also normal that one person in an attachment relationship will always take control, so this might be yourself or it might be your partner. However, normally one person does lead the way and the other is submissive. Whichever way around it is for you, you need to realize that this is a completely unhealthy relationship, and you should never feel coerced into doing something that you don’t want to, or be coercing someone else to do something they don’t want to.

In a loving relationship, compromise is absolutely key. Unlike attachment, you are both equals in this relationship and therefore you will want to make sure that you both have equal say in your decisions. All couples that are in love make compromises. These compromises could be anything as small as where to go for dinner, to which house to buy. You will always want the other person to be happy in a loving relationship, so you will swallow your pride, not be stubborn and compromise with them.

Attachment tries to change you. Love accepts you as you are.

When you are attached to your partner, you will try to change them in ways that will make you happier, because they are only there to make you happy. If they are doing things that don’t make you fulfilled, you will try to manipulate the way they act around you and you might even try to change their character and personality. This is a completely unfair behavior to demand someone to change themselves just so you can experience a better relationship with them.

When you are in love, you completely accept your partner for who they are, and will never try to change them. Of course, there might be things that you find slightly irritating about them, but you will choose to accept it and move on. You are in love with them, and you will understand that you can’t change them, because then they will no longer be the person you fell for. When you fell in love with them, you almost took a silent vow to love them for the whole of who they are, with both the good bits, and the not so good parts.

Attachment is difficult. Love is easy.

When you are attached to someone, it might all feel a bit too difficult to be together. There might be a lot of hard times that the two of you go through just to be together. It might feel like the world is telling you that you shouldn’t be together, but because they make you feel good, you persevere anyway.

Love, on the other hand, is actually one of the easiest things in the world. When it is true love, nothing can stop you from being together, and it will just fit into your life perfectly. Of course, it might be hard knowing that you are falling for someone and making yourself feel emotionally vulnerable, but love will fit right into your life without making any problems.

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Attachment comes and goes. Love will stand the test of time.

Anyone can get attached to someone else, at any time, as long as they make them feel good. Therefore, the attachment can also disappear at any time. It’s a very transient feeling and situation because there was nothing deep or real involved in it. You can pretty much get attached to anyone because it is not about them, it is about you. This means that there will probably not be a specific person that you stick with long term, because other people might make you feel good in different ways at different times in your life.

On the other hand, love stands the test of time. Of course, it can all go wrong, and you might break up, but the feeling of love will never disappear from you. You will always hold onto the person and the feelings you had when you were with them. You will also always have a candle that burns for that person. Love transcends time, and so it will always stay with you in your heart.

Are you in love, or are you attached?

Now we have had a look at the many differences between love and attachment, we are going to take a look at the signs of both types of relationships, which should help you better understand which kind of relationship you are in.

Signs of attachment:

  • You feel lost without them there to boost your ego.
  • You get jealous easily when they are not around you.
  • You keep in contact with them all the time.
  • You rely on them to make you happy because otherwise, your self-esteem would below.
  • You manipulate them so that they spend less time with others, and more time with you.
  • You know that you are only with this person for selfish reasons, not because you love the person they are.
  • You can’t see yourself without them, but you don’t plan your future together.

Signs of love:

  • If you had to choose, you would most likely put their needs above your own.
  • You can’t wait to spend the rest of your life with this person.
  • You plan the future with them.
  • They are the first person that you depend on.
  • They make you unbelievably happy.
  • You can feel yourself becoming a better person when you are around them.
  • They give you a safe space to share your vulnerabilities with them.
  • You simply know that you love them.

What should do you if you realize you are attached to someone?

Although attachment and love might have seemed similar before, I hope that after reading this article, you have been able to realize that they are in fact, entirely different. Attachment is actually a negative relationship, that is normally one-sided and emotionally unhealthy. So, if you have worked out that you are attached to someone, here’s what you should do next:

1. You need to break it off.

This might be a really difficult thing to do because I’m sure that you think you would be lost without this person. However, the only way you are going to be able to find true love is by leaving this unhealthy attachment behind and moving forward. If it helps, make sure you have a good support network around you that can help you after the breakup, especially if you know your self-esteem will hit rock bottom without this person in your life anymore.

2. You need to work on yourself.

The only reason people get attached to someone is that they feel like they have a hole in their self-esteem or exceptionally low confidence. Without this person there anymore to lift you up and keep stroking your ego, you will probably feel very low. You need to know that breaking off the relationship was the healthiest thing to do for yourself. Now, it’s time to get to work.

I would recommend thinking in-depth about why you have low self-confidence, and if it helps maybe even going to see a therapist. This will not be an overnight process, and it’s something you may need to work on for years even. However, when you have healed yourself, only then are you ready to open yourself up to the wonderful world of love.

3. Open yourself up to the prospect of real love.

Once you have healed any trauma within you, and your self-esteem is back, you are ready to get back into the world of real love, not attachment. Because this time, I’m hoping you will be able to notice if you are getting attached to someone rather than falling in love with them. People will be more attracted to you than ever before, because being a confident and self-assured person, is sexy.

Conclusion

I hope this article was able to help you figure out if you are feeling attached, or in love. The only thing left to say is that I wish you the best of luck dealing with everything, and the world of love will always be open for you, you just need to know what you’re looking for.

Did this article help you at all? If it did and you liked what you read, please let us know in the comments. We would love to hear from you.

You may also be interested in: 3 Easy Ways to Find Out If He's Cheating On You

Olivia Surtees
After realizing I was the person that everyone around me always came to for dating advice, I decided to merge this skill with my profession – writing. So, I came about to be a relationship advice writer! Being able to show not only my passion for writing, but also my passion to help others in their relationships, means the absolute world to me and I hope to continue doing so. Studying the vast and complicated world of relationships entices me, and I am constantly striving to learn more, so I can then help others with more knowledge and experience.

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