Emotional attachment is usually regarded as negative and undesirable. It is something to be prevented, stopped, or eliminated.
Is being emotionally attached to someone bad? Do we need to stay away from emotional attachments?
Not exactly. Not all emotional attachments are unhealthy. In fact, attachments are good for us. Like the ones that help us maintain good relationships with family and friends and motivate us to be our best. Attachments are good for our mental health.
However, attachments turn toxic when they start controlling our lives by changing the way we think and act. When our emotional attachments start dictating our choices and decisions, it is time to raise a red flag.
The million-dollar question is how to differentiate between the good and the bad attachments? And how not to get emotionally attached in a toxic way? This article delves into the psychology of relationships and attachments and comes out with some answers for you.
Table of Contents
What are the signs of emotional attachment?
Attachment plays a big role in relationships. Emotionally attached meaning the existence of love, affection, and closeness. When maintained at healthy levels, it forms the basis of loving relationships and can sustain them over time.
When building a relationship, emotional attachment can help to kick-start it. There is nothing wrong with sharing feelings and seeking help to fulfill your needs. When the attachment gets too intense and turns into emotional dependency, it becomes problematic.
Here are 8 signs of emotional dependency.
- Communication is the foundation of a good relationship. However, it becomes toxic when you demand a response immediately without factoring in the constraints of your partner.
- You are always in agreement with the other person. Most probably because you are afraid to disagree, fearful of tantrums and other consequences.
- You are making sacrifices without receiving anything in return. The imbalance in the relationship is bound to destroy it.
- You ignore your family and friends. “Me-time” is important for a healthy relationship.
- You adopt your partner’s friends, likes and dislikes, and hobbies. And ignore or forget about your personal life, connections, and interests.
- You start feeling incomplete without the other person and depend on them for your physical and emotional needs. You lose your independence in all aspects.
- You are constantly checking on their social media to know more about their contacts and communications. This can only lead to anxiety and jealousy.
- You seek constant reassurance of love and affection. When this exceeds the limit, it indicates low self-worth and insecurity.
How do you know if it’s love or attachment?
In a healthy relationship, you are in love with the other person. Your focus will be your partner. Naturally, you put their needs before your own. On the other hand, if there is just emotional attachment, the focus is on yourself. You do things because you want to be in a relationship or afraid to leave it. You will be looking out only for yourself.
Here are some pointers to identify the difference between love and attachment.
- Love is warm and exciting; attachment is harmful and toxic.
- Love is selfless; attachment is self-indulgent.
- Love is hard to maintain and requires constant nourishment. Attachment is difficult only when apart. It is a form of addiction.
- Love is liberating; attachment involves possessiveness.
- Love empowers; attachment is all about exercising power.
- Love never changes; attachment never lasts long.
What is an unhealthy attachment?
Attachment is healthy as long as it stays within limits. When it turns too intense and becomes an emotional dependency, it can no longer be called healthy.
Here are some indications of unhealthy levels of attachment.
- You are always seeking their approval.
- You have lost your independence and sense of self.
- You are incapable of managing your own life.
When you are emotionally attached to your partner in an unhealthy manner, you are constantly seeking their emotional support without offering anything in return.
The imbalance in the relationship is harmful not only for the dependent partner. It is natural for the partner offering emotional support to feel drained, leading to feelings of resentment, abandonment, or even loneliness.
The discontentment is bound to surface after the initial euphoria wears away. This can make the relationship unhealthy and toxic until it lasts.
How to stop being overly attached to someone?
Are you one of those people who get into a relationship because you don’t want to be single? If so, you are cheating yourself and your partner. Healthy relationships don’t begin this way. Open your eyes and look at yourself and the world around you in its true colors.
You need to build a strong foundation for yourself based on self-love, self-worth, and self-confidence before you get into a relationship. Most often emotional attachment happens when you are feeling lonely, insecure, or incomplete. You expect the partner to fill the void.
Treat relationships as accessories – something you add to your life without taking away anything. When you are independent, confident, and have love and respect for yourself, you won’t consider the collapse of a relationship as the end of the world. If your partner walks out on you, you won’t feel lost or disappointed. You will still be left with one person in your corner – you.
Here are some tips to not get overly attached to people.
1. Do not get lost in the fantasy world.
At the start of a relationship, when everything seems perfect and lovely, it is easy to fall into this trap. You imagine that your partner is perfect in everything and in every way. If you fail to see the reality at this stage and keep up with the fantasizing, it is going to be a rude awakening later on.
2. Do not abandon your family and friends.
Just because you are in a relationship doesn’t mean you need to spend all the time with your partner. Nor does it mean you cannot continue your bonds with your family and friends. In fact, having an independent life and spending some time apart makes your relationship healthier and exciting.
3. Do not turn a blind eye to the flaws in the partner.
All human beings come with strengths and flaws. And, your partner is no exception. Do not allow the initial thrill of the relationship to make you see only the good qualities. Keep your eyes wide open and see the imperfections as well.
4. Do not rush things.
Take time to process the stages of the relationship and proceed with caution. In your eagerness to cement the relationship, do not ignore the warnings and move ahead.
5. Do not become overdependent on your partner.
At the beginning of the relationship, it is natural to be fully engrossed in each other and forget about the world. This may sound romantic but is not good for a healthy and long-lasting relationship. When your life revolves around your partner and you lose your sense of self, it cannot turn out right for you. Continue living your life even as the relationship develops. Being independent can only make the relationship stronger.
6. Do not forget your life’s goals.
In the excitement of a new relationship, it is easy to abandon your goal. However, once things settle down into a routine, you are going to regret the decision. You should never cast aside your life’s ambitions for anything or anyone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most probably yes. Because that is how connections and relationships work.
When you are attracted to someone, you are always on the lookout for reciprocal feelings. You let your feelings develop into attachment only if you can sense a green signal of some form from the other person. This go-ahead signal may be perceptible or imperceptible.
Some of the tell-tale emotional attachment signs are subtle flirtation, body language, spending time together, eye contact, teasing, opening up, and discussing the innermost feelings.
There is chemistry in a relationship when feelings are returned. So, the chances are high that your partner feels it as well.
A strong desire for companionship is the main culprit here. This may be triggered by long periods of being single. When you have been feeling lonely and ignored for a long time, it is natural that you are eager to get attached to the first person who shows a passing interest in you.
Your need to feel accepted and understood is intense at this point. This may cause you to even ignore the warning signs and obvious indications that the other person is not interested in a relationship.
When you have been single for a long time and you are desperate to find a partner, you may be feeling incomplete without that special someone in your life. You will be constantly searching for someone to make you feel complete. Your happiness depends on this. You feel content and fulfilled only when you are in a relationship.
This is not a desirable situation to be in. In the initial excitement of the relationship, everything may work well for you. But as days go by, the truth is bound to come out. Then everything will come crashing down.
Avoid this situation by working on your emotional strength. Learn to love yourself, be independent. Then, relationships will bring in more love and happiness without taking away anything.
Men and women behave differently when they are in a relationship. Though the underlying emotions are the same - loving, caring, protective, sharing, understanding, trusting, and more. From a man’s perspective, the world of women's emotions is complex and incomprehensible. Actually, it is simple. All you need to know is what to see and how to interpret them.
If you are finding it tricky to navigate the difficult waters, here are some clues to know you are home and safe. She would be eager to listen to everything you have to say - even the lamest of the jokes. She would be comfortable discussing personal matters. She would value your opinion and suggestion.
She would trust you with her life. She would be authentic and reveal her real self to you. She would show her affection by doing little things for you. She wants to spend quality time with you and is always there for you.
Women are more emotional beings and as she thinks with her heart. On the other hand, men are more logical in their approach to a relationship. And, it may take a man longer to realize the emotional connection.
These are some feelings that can trigger the emotional side of a man, leading to a relationship. He needs to feel loved, admired, appreciated and respected. He wants to feel “wanted”. He loves the role of the protector and the provider. He wants to feel powerful and invincible.
These traits in a woman can make a man want to have an emotional connection with her. Caring nature, a positive mindset, the ability to live in the moment, and a little bit of hero-worship in a woman are considered attractive and desirable from a man’s viewpoint.
Leaving a bit of mystery by not revealing your true self completely can add to the allure for a man. When a woman can evoke these feelings in a man, it stimulates his emotions and a relationship may be on the cards.
Emotional connection is not always unhealthy or undesirable. Within bounds, it forms the foundation of a loving and long-lasting relationship.
However, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture and overshoot the mark. When the relationship crosses over to the negative side of emotional attachment, it destroys the bond as well as the two people involved in it. In excess, emotional attachment can disrupt and damage lives. Once you reach this stage, the only option left for you is to break emotional attachment.
The thin line separating healthy and unhealthy emotional connections is hard to figure out for most of us. This is more so for those who never had experienced it before. If you have been in an abusive relationship, you may find a normal, healthy relationship hard to adjust to. The reverse is also true.
Staying away from emotional attachment is not the answer to this. You should rather learn how to differentiate between good and bad and understand how to maintain it at healthy levels. To avoid emotional attachment altogether means you are losing out on a wonderful experience that life has on offer.