What’s the difference between love and attachment? They come from very different places and serve different goals.
Love, in its most mature form, is giving and caring for others, supporting growth and progress Tony Nader, PhD, says. Meanwhile, attachment is self-centred and transactional in its nature.
There are different forms of love and attachment. Dr. Nader shares the example of both love and attachment, and the role they play throughout the stages of life.
Love is selfless. Parental love for the child is the love of unconditional giving. This gives the children their basic needs, ensures their security and protection, while they are merely the recipients of that love.
Attachment starts developing at a very young age. Children can develop different forms of attachment: insecure, ambivalent, disorganized. Attachment can also be very secure depending on how one has been raised. One can also be attached to objects — assuring security and stability in life.
Love of a newborn or a child has a pure sense of receiving. In the teenage phase of life, love becomes an exchange, you transition from the love of receiving to the love of sharing and giving at the same time as wanting to receive. The love of a mature level, love of a parent is the love of giving. This mature love, different from only attachment, doesn’t come from one’s own personal interest.
As children grow and form their relationships with the world and people around them, the sense of love, care, and protection they received during their childhood, plays a big role in how they engage in and build relationships.
Love nourishes and contributes towards growth while attachment drains and limits.
As we grow, we lose relationships, loved ones, things, and places we love or are attached to. This happens by choice or by the force of nature. In either case we should acknowledge and accept the change, embrace growth, and the opportunities it brings. What builds us up doesn’t have to always stay the same.
Attachment to or from people and things hinders one’s self-sufficiency, prevents growth and development. With attachment we are unable to move to bigger things and realize our full potential.
So how do we rise above attachment and into love? Listen to the episode “How to Break Free from Attachment” here to learn more.