In a relationship, could you be confusing commitment with attachment? You’re proud of your commitment to your partner. So you don’t bail out when they’re abusive or unfaithful. You change your usual behavior and keep silent on your opinions so as not to anger them. You know in your heart that the relationship couldn’t have lasted this long if you were not committed.
Many people have difficulty differentiating between commitment and attachment, even if they may not be consciously aware of it. Although the former is liberating and fulfilling while the latter is constrictive and stressful, the two beliefs have one common outcome – to stay. But commitment is rooted in integrity, deliberate and willing dedication, and the perseverance to stick around during difficult spells, with the faith that the bad times will end, and everything will be set right again. Attachment has its source in insecurity, a desperate need to hold on to and not let go, resulting in anxiety and depression out of fear of losing the relationship.
How then can you tell if it’s commitment or attachment that makes you persist? It’s a thin line that separates one from the other, but something worth deeper scrutiny if you’re agonizing over staying or leaving.
You know it’s commitment when
- You are loyal to your partner and don’t have thoughts of leaving nor consider temptations of infidelity. You meet beautiful and handsome people or have instant rapport with someone, but it never occurs to you to take the attraction a step further.
- You don’t think of leaving your partner because they have habits that irritate you. In your worst moods, when they are exceptionally annoying, you may have minor spats, but at the same time, you are aware of your partner’s good qualities and are reminded of why you love them.
- You are open-minded when your partner has beliefs different from your own and you allow their expression without condemnation. You accept that your partner grew up in a different background and respect it. You are willing to understand their opinions and needs that are opposite to your own.
- You think of your partner before making a big decision, or when you have good or bad news. If you are required to travel often or relocate for a job, you consult your partner first. When you receive any sort of information that affects you, such as getting a promotion or given a critical diagnosis, your first thought is how it will affect your partner and the relationship.
- You have a genuine interest when your partner is talking. You know they need a listener during times of worry and anxiety, and when they have a success story they want to share. You enjoy spending time together, even if it’s just watching TV at home.
- You care about the little things, making extra effort to meet your partner’s needs and wishes. You know that genuine caring is not about giving expensive presents and going on luxury vacations, although they are nice to have, but more importantly, true caring is found in the daily activities of living.
Attachment is when
- You lose your distinct social life and don’t have time for the friends you used to go out with because all your days are focused on your partner. They don’t like the idea of you going out and having friends, but the same rule doesn’t apply to them. Yet, you acquiesce to keep the peace.
- You partner is psychologically abusive, constantly puts you down and criticizes you, even in front of other people. You’re not allowed to make decisions or have a voice. If things go wrong, you put up with all the blame and have to come up with the fix. You tolerate their philandering no matter how hurt you are in the hope that they will someday change.
- You keep tab of your partner’s every move, wanting to know where they are at all times of the day or night, who they call or text. You make comments on and like all their social media posts, and stalk their friends. If you had your way, you want shared social media accounts, and their passwords on emails, etc.
- You can’t imagine life without your partner and you’ll do everything to keep them. You literally go down on your knees, plead and beg them to stay. In your desperation, you lose your dignity, self-respect and self-esteem.
Attachment is self-defeating, toxic and destructive. If you want to purge yourself of your emotional attachment issues, start a regular practice of meditation. You don’t have to analyze what happened during your childhood or read countless self-help books. Just meditate daily, preferably twice a day for 20 minutes each time. Have a mantra and focus on saying it and being aware of your breathing. Meditation gets rid of the ego, and helps you develop detachment – to desires, things, even people. It raises your sense of self-worth, allowing you to let go when appropriate and beneficial to you.