Why is so hard to love somebody without attachment? Real love is free, simple and easy. “I am wonderful. You are wonderful. We are always connected, even when we aren’t together. I wish the best for you wherever you go.”
Attachment feels needy, clingy and desperate. “I only feel good when you are with me. But when you are with me, I need you to say _______ and do ______, in order to feel good.” Buddhists see attachment as the cause of all suffering so why has it got so tangled up with love?
I remember singing “You are my sunshine” to my first born baby changing the words from “Please don’t take my sunshine away.” to “No one will take my sunshine away.” Even that small amount of vulnerability made me nervous. I was attached to my baby, to the outcome I wanted for his life, and I was trying to get control wherever I could find it.
I think the problem is the initial “falling in love” stage. Whether it’s with a partner, your children, or even your job, we love that rush of feel good hormones that makes us feel alive, adored, and unstoppable. It is a high like no other. Seeing ourselves through the eyes of our beloved gives us a glimpse of heaven. Look at how beautiful we are, how adorable, how charming, smart and funny! When that little baby in our arms gazes up at us we get a glimpse of our own divine perfection. When the sun comes up after the eight-hour conversation with our new sweetheart, we get a glimpse of what it’s like to be connected to and have faith in something bigger than ourselves. It’s amazing and we love it so much we don’t want to it go.
I don’t think we are meant to live in that constant state of bliss (that’s what heaven is for). But I do think we are meant to have a glimpse of what is possible for us. Despite what the love songs say, it isn’t that person that makes us feel so good. There are many sources of love, connection and feel-good hormones and we get to continually search for it as long as it also feels free from attachment.
Katelyn and Ryan* were 16 when they fell head over heals in love for the first time. Their love was passionate, intimate, and deep. For the first time, Katelyn felt deeply cared for and adored. All her problems melted away when her new boyfriend was around. But after a few months, Ryan started to get on Katelyn’s nerves. He wasn’t saying or doing the right things and she got scared of losing him. Not only were her old feelings of anger and disappointment creeping back in, but new feelings of abandonment and vulnerability were taking over. She started getting jealous of anything he did without her. She felt desperate, clingy, and out of control. He loved her and tried to do everything she asked but it was never enough. What started out as love was turning into an emotional hostage situation. Katelyn started threatening suicide and even though Ryan loved her deeply, nothing he did ever seemed to be enough. Instead of feeling alive, adored and unstoppable, he felt imprisoned and confined. Ryan realized her emotional neediness was not something he was trained to help her with so together they went to see a counselor. As Katelyn learned to heal the feelings of abandonment she felt when her father moved out, she was free to love without attachment.
Catherine* was overjoyed the day her son was born. Holding him in her arms made her feel fulfilled, connected and absolute joy. As he grew older, the love, adoration and affection he showered on his Mama made her feel like the most beautiful person on the planet. When he turned 12, things started to change. He started rolling his eyes when she spoke and criticized everything she said. Catherine’s thoughts and opinions were discounted and every time she argued with her husband, her son took his side. This deep, long lasting love affair she had with her son was fading away and she had nothing to replace it with. He was the baby of the family! Instead of finding ways to fill that void herself, she started clinging to her son. She wasn’t ready to let go of those feelings of connection and love she enjoyed for all those years. The tighter she held on, the more he pushed away. It wasn’t until she could quiet her own self-critical voice and find other sources of joy, that he was able to come back and love his Mama without feeling her attachment tentacles.
Love is not what we hear in movies, “You complete me.” or in song lyrics, “I can’t live, if living is without you.” Love is expansive and free. Attachment feels needy and desperate.
So if you find yourself in attachment instead of love, try switching from, “I need you to make me happy.” to one of the following statements:
“I feel joyful and full of life, and I love sharing my life with you.”
“I love being with you when you feel like being with me.”
“Our love will always keep us connected, no matter where you are.”
“I see your imperfections and I love you anyway. I see my imperfections and I love and accept myself as I am.”
Want to learn more about loving without attachment? Schedule a free discovery session with Torie by clicking here or purchase a package of sessions and we’ll get to work.
*All names and identifying details have been changed.