The difference between love and attachment has been one of the most confusing topics when it comes to relationships. One is always almost confused for the other because there’s a thin line between them.
Real love would do everything it can to make sure a loved one is happy even if it involves a lot of sacrifices. That’s because real love is selfless and doesn’t just think of one’s life or personal gain but is ready to put someone else’s needs above its own.
When you’re attached to someone, you need to feel in charge in a way, and it’s easy to have many high expectations in such relationships. That's the difference between the two—love loves regardless. However, when you’re just attached to someone, you’re more drawn to the attention they give you and your needs as a person.
Manipulation could also be a tool in many relationships where the feeling of affection and care is prioritized over the deep feeling to protect, support, and cater to someone else.
So, do you feel like your partner is in love with you or just attached, and vice versa? Keep reading to know the differences between the two.
7 Ways To Know If it’s Love or An Attachment
1. Selflessness or selfishness
Love makes you selfless no matter how tough you are. You and your loved one would do all you can to make each other happy. There would be no unnecessary fights or counts on who does more in the relationship. That’s what falling in love entails. You want to make each other happy and be the reason for each other’s smiles.
You may barely notice what your boyfriend does because you feel he wouldn’t do it if he knows it would hurt you. Plus, you’ll both have each other’s priorities first before other things.
On the flip side, attachment makes you focus on your own happiness without considering your partner’s feelings. You may both begin to blame one another for your mishaps. There would be this sudden sense of dependency that if your partner is not there, you can barely survive. You use them to boost your self-esteem or fill a void you feel inside.
Unlike attachment, true love doesn’t make you self-centered. It doesn’t make you transfer aggression either. It makes you responsible for your own happiness and puts a lot of things in place effortlessly.
2. Growth and restriction
When there’s love in a relationship, you grow together. You become each other’s support system and do all you can to ensure you’re helping your man out. Anything you stress over becomes his priority as well. Your needs become his and if it’s managed well, it grows to be a long-term relationship.
Partners who are in love learn to understand each other’s flaws and ways of handling situations when they work as a team in achieving every goal. So, unlike an attachment, it brings the right emotions and no one feels the need to outdo or outshine each other.
When it comes to attachment, you don’t feel it in your heart to help. It’s possible to think you should handle tasks individually and not as a couple. And because of your inability to solve your own issues, you unconsciously start depending on your partner too much.
3. Liberation and control
Your insecurities,weaknesses, and flaws are nothing with a partner that truly loves you. You learn to accept yourself just the way you are. He, as well, would feel liberated if you truly love him too. You both become less self-centered.
The love in the relationship would even encourage you to be more loving and kind, and you may not need to feel insecure or unsafe. It’s also easy to push issues on the carpet when you’re in love, which is a bit unhealthy, especially if you do that all the time.
For an attachment, you’d notice more control; you both want everything to go the way you individually think or feel. And when something very minor goes in a direction that is not yours, it spurs up unpleasant feelings and responses.
Attachment makes you think about just what is on your mind without caring about your partner’s thoughts or feelings. So, in a loving relationship, love will lead all the time. However, an attachment would need more effort from each partner to focus their attention on the union itself, and not personal gain.
4. Unconditional and with conditions
Take a look at two couples; a perfect-looking man with a poor handicapped woman, and an average woman with a celebrity. Most people would say the latter couple is perfect. I would say it depends on their kind of relationship and the terms involved. If what they share is strong publicly and otherwise, then it’s love and it’s unconditional.
But if the first couple is together probably because they want to get public pity or raise awareness for a charity organization for a long-planned goal that wasn’t achieved, then they’re not in love. It’s simply a medium to achieve what they want. Maybe love could come in later but I would say it’s more of attachment.
The same thing applies to the second couple. If they’re together for the wrong reasons, again, this is an attachment and it’s conditional.
5. Trust and mistrust
I’m sure this sounds very clear. When a man loves you very much or you love him as much as he does, there’s no need to worry about much. Even when you both know you’re going in the wrong direction, you’re open-minded and relaxed enough to let your partner be because you trust them.
You know they would not cheat on you with the girls they’re talking to, and you won’t feel the need to check them all the time.
However, when an attachment replaces love, there’s bound to be mistrust in your relationship. Every step you take would be suspicious of your significant other. And any suggestion or decision you make would be questioned.
At this point, they would use any medium to either ensure you’re not cheating or catch you in the act. Trust me, you won’t feel safe in your own space anymore and you’ll keep having the constant fear of getting misunderstood whenever you talk.
6. Patience and anger
I heard a story of one. They had been together for three years they were in different countries. However, although she loved him, she became very lonely and started seeing someone else.
One thing led to another and the relationship got complicated. Her boyfriend heard about it from her. He was hurt but they talked about it and put the past behind them. They understood that being too far from each other was causing problems and moved closer to each other. As a result, their bond became stronger. This was true love, as twisted as it may seem.
7. Contentment and greed
When two people are in love they can manage with anything they have. Whatever you bring to the table would be appreciated with love which in turn opens the door for more love to come in. A relationship based on love brings positive changes to the couple.
It creates room for the two partners to openly share and deal with their vulnerabilities. They won’t feel the need to live life or experience life with someone else.
Greed, complaints, ego, and dissatisfaction accompanies attachment. Many people will make you feel like your life with this guy is not perfect, and when such negativity comes in, only real love will be able to keep a couple together.
However, if it’s just an attachment, such words would affect the relationship, and it would be easy to drift apart. Attachment blinds you from seeing the benefits you’re enjoying in the relationship. And that’s something every couple will need to focus on; all the good and happy moments and not the bad ones.
Some things don’t have literal answers, but when it’s love, you want to wake up each morning, live and love over and over again. You feel free to do things without any fear of the consequences afterward. Partners should be able to survive individually when it’s love because attachment makes you dependent.
As they say, everything is fine when done moderately and the same applies to this question. An attachment could lead to love. When one party shows affection and a genuine feeling of love for the other person over time, it could become something beautiful. But on its own, it could survive without actual love for a long time.
Listen to how you feel. Also, make sure it’s not a recent occurrence of a bad situation that is affecting your feelings for him. Because sometimes, the experience we have unconsciously affects our relationship. If you can maintain your happiness in his absence, then it is not loneliness.
Just live and let live. What I mean is, you can love someone so much from your heart, treat them right, and still give them space to also enjoy their liberty. With love, you should be able to survive your stressful times alone when he’s not around. You’d notice that the bond would naturally become very strong effortlessly.
When you can’t breathe anymore, or sometimes you get scared at the mention or sight of your partner’s name, then that’s unhealthy. A simple ‘hello’ text could trigger a mild panic attack. When an attachment is unhealthy, you stop enjoying your relationship and you start getting scared or irritated by your partner.
A relationship may most times be a combination of love and attachment. It all depends on the individuals involved and how smooth they want their relationship to be. I hope the list helped. If it did, please like and share with your loved ones or anyone you feel needs to read it.
As hopeless romantic I struggled tremendously in my love life. After many years of searching, trial & error, and countless failed relationships, I finally found my Mr. Right. It wasn't an easy road, but one that has taught me an incredible amount about the workings of relationships between men and women, and this is what I hope to share through my writing on this blog.