In Love or Attached?

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On the path where relationship is a means for coming to self-understanding, it is necessary to clarify the difference between loving and being attached. This is a most basic distinction, because so much of what we experience as attachment, we call love. In fact, most of the institutions around love, such as marriage and family, are actually ways of protecting our investment in attached situations.

Loving someone is glorifying who they are in their uniqueness. Consider a flower. You see a flower that is really beautiful to you. You want to glorify that flower in its own natural setting, or else you want to pick it and possess it. Those are two entirely different ways of being. Love creates a thankful glorification of the flower. You love the other ­ you want to see the other thrive, enjoy, and grow. You want to see them become more of who they are, nor matter what that entails. That’s the truth of love. It is unconditional.

Attachment is quite different. You want to pick the flower, sever it from its roots, and make it yours. You want to appropriate the beloved, make him or her be what you want them to be, conform to what is convenient for you in the relationship. Attachment is not care for the other; it’s care for oneself. This distinction has to be understood: Are you loving, or are you attached?

If you are attached, you are going to experience the pain of jealousy and envy. It follows that these uncomfortable states of being become the opportunity to see within yourself the truth of attachment. Not theoretical understanding, but existential awareness of attachment at its very roots…..more awareness…more growth through relationship.

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