Let’s get down to business.
You may have heard before that there are different types of love, and although this is true, most people don’t see a difference between love and attachment. I promise you that when you realize the difference between the two in your life, everything will be more uncomplicated and will change your mindset on relationships.
Love is challenging to explain in words, and some people may even say that you can only understand what love is when you experience it firsthand. I believe that love comes in many forms, from yourself, family members, friendships to romantic experiences. But to love someone doesn’t mean to be attached and be with that person twenty-four seven. Love doesn’t equal being clingy or living for someone else. That’s where genuine love comes into place, and we leave attachment behind.
Recently I read a book by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, a Buddhist nun who spent twelve years in a cave in the Himalayas by herself, being three years in full retreat. Jetsunma studies human enlightenment and discusses topics associated with happiness and fulfillment. In her book, Heart of Life, the author discusses love vs. attachment, which completely changed my perspective on relationships.
The main point between love and attachment is that most people believe and grow up thinking that the more you hold on to someone, the more you dedicate your life to another person, and the more you show that you care, the more you love them. While in fact, people hold on to others so tightly because they are scared to be hurt and lose a sense of fulfillment when they find themselves without the other.
“Any relationship which imagines that we can fulfill ourselves through another is bound to be very tricky.”Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
So, do we self-sabotage when we attach to others?
When we start a new relationship with someone at any level of intimacy, the ideal scenario is to come together already with a sense of fulfillment. This would completely change the direction of the situation, as both people involved understand that each one is a separate person that appreciates one another when they are together.
Attachment is one of the main reasons for conflicts between people, and it often leads to the idea that one may like the other more, while in fact, one is more fulfilled within themselves than the other party. On top of that, we tend to project on others what we expect the relationship to be. And when the other doesn’t meet our expectations, we are hurt and impacted by the lack of supply the other didn’t give us. People never meet our expectations one hundred percent, and we never meet theirs. We’re all humans, and once we get to know them better, we see that the other cannot fulfill our needs. But the tricky part of realizing is that only we can satisfy our needs.
This is precisely where love resides: even though the other cannot possibly fulfill all your needs and expectations, you still like them, feel desire for them, and have compassion and respect to understand that the other person has their own life and different needs and expectations. And it doesn’t mean you love them less. It actually means that you feel genuine love for them.
“Attachment says ‘I love you; therefore I want you to make me happy.’ And genuine love says, ‘I love you; therefore I want you to be happy. If that includes me, great, if it doesn’t include me, I just want your happiness.”Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
Every relationship that doesn’t let us live our individual selves and feel fulfilled on our own is set to be a complicated relationship. Once you set your mind on the difference between love and attachment, you will already feel more fulfilled before getting together with another.
Love should be simple, light, and genuine. Grasping and clinging are not signs of love, but a missing piece of self-fulfillment, which can be the hardest thing to realize within ourselves.