How To Understand The Difference Between Real Love And Attachment

Posted by Andrew Guerra, 24 Jul

To love and to be loved is a natural human urge. Love is the greatest value for people, it makes them laugh and cry, fills lives with sense and helps to become better. Love grows from infatuation, but sometimes this feeling may transform into an attachment.

So, love and attachment are interconnected, but they are not the same. Love has many hues. It is based on unselfishness. When it comes to attachment, it arises from emotional deficiency, lack of attention and loneliness.

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Let's look at the kinds of love and attachment, their differences and possible ways to get rid of attachment and thus to improve a relationship.

What Is Real Love?

Many people consider love in different ways: some of them believe that love is the action of taking care of another person, others assume that it’s the feeling when you value the happiness and well-being of another person more than you own. Also, some people reckon that love is an unconditional acceptance and a sacrifice for the sake of a loved one. Actually, all these statements are true because love is multi-faceted and there are many types of love. According to the Greek ideas, seven types of this wonderful feeling may be distinguished:

1. Love of the body – Eros

Eros is a Greek God of a sexual desire. It embodies lust and this love is based on a sexual attraction between bodies without any spiritual link. However, C. S. Lewis assumes that Eros is different from lust because it is underpinned by deep and procreative urges. Eros may lead to family and children, but it isn’t enough to sustain a long-term relationship.

2. Love of the mind – Philia

This is platonic love between people, a physical attraction is absent. It appears between relatives and best friends and its hallmark is friendship. For Aristotle, friendship is associated with companionship and trust. So, the base for this love is shared values and reciprocated feelings.

3. Teasing love – Ludus

Ludus is playful and flirtatious. It’s not long-lasting and as usual, it is accompanied by laughter and fun. It’s childlike and not serious.

4. Everlasting love – Pragma

Love has several stages and this one is the highest stage of love. It arises between married couples, who’ve been together for a long time. It’s pragmatic because it is cultivated soberly by people and it is based on mutual understanding, respect, and commitment.

5. Selfless love – Agape

This one is unconditional love, it’s the love for people, nature, God. It encompasses the modern concept of altruism. It’s expressed through charity, sympathy for strangers and unselfish help. This love gives a euphoric feeling and contributes to mental and physical health.

6. Self-love – Philautia

We should learn to love others, but it’s important to love yourself. We need a portion of love to feel harmonious and to be able to give love to others. However, if this type of love is excessive, it may turn into narcissism and arrogance, which are destructive.

7. Love of the children – Storge

This type of love encompasses forgiveness, sacrifice, and acceptance of flaws. It is the love of parents for their children. There is no passion and intense feelings.

What Is Attachment?

Simply, it may be defined as a strong emotional bond. Many psychologists claim that attachment is an indispensable part of true love. This attachment is called a secure attachment. It means that the relationship is based on unconditional love, mutual trust, and respect. People are supportive and empathetic. Dr. Phillip Shaver has a conducted a research, which claims that about 60 percent of people have a secure attachment.

However, there are other types of attachment, which may lead to the destruction of personality and the collapse of values. They are:

  1. Anxious attachment. The aim is to cling to the partner, but the means towards this goal often push him away. The person doesn’t trust the spouse and a constant emotional hunger pushes to find the person, who will rescue him or her, but they give nothing in return.
  2. Dismissive attachment. In this case, one partner recedes in an emotional manner. They tend to live alternative lives and create a serious relationship very rarely.
  3. Fearful attachment. The major feature of this attachment is an ambivalent state, partners are afraid of getting too close.

The Difference Between Love and Attachment

People may mistaken attachment for real love at the beginning of a relationship. It happens because they don’t know the distinctive features and major differences between them. Here we’ve come up with clear statements about love and attachment.

Self-sacrificing Love VS Self-centered Attachment

True love means service, you do everything which makes the person you love happy even if it hurts you. You don’t fight over insignificant things, you don’t blackmail the spouse and never seek domination.

Whereas the attachment implies confronting your issues, searching for means to increase your self-esteem without taking the interests of your loved one into consideration. You think that the only thing the loved one is responsible for is your happiness and contentment.

Passionate Love VS Apathetic Attachment

Love means a constant blaze of love inside you, passion ignites quickly. An attachment is merely a weak connection, which doesn’t cause deep feelings and bright emotions.

How to determine love and attachment? The catalyst may be a breakup. When you go separate ways with the person you truly love, then this beautiful feeling may turn into raging hate. This does not happen by your will, just under the influence of certain circumstances, a deep positive feeling is transformed into a deeply negative one.

While attachment after the breakup may cause anxiety, remorse, pain, resentment, anger and even paranoia, but it will never grow into hatred.

Challenging Love VS Regressive Attachment

Real love is always difficult, you go through many trials, work on yourself, learn how to respect, forgive and to listen to another person and then you keep this wonderful feeling nourished. Eventually, it grows into a comprehensive feeling that becomes stronger over the years.

Attachment is not that complicated, it doesn’t evolve and doesn’t change into another dimension. You don’t think about the future and live the present. Sometimes the separation causes an ache because you don’t get enough attention. You become obsessed with this idea and your relationship resembles a drug addiction.

Grateful Love VS Possessive Attachment

When you are in love, you trust the partner unconditionally. You are not jealous because you know that your love is strong. You want to be the best for the partner, the awareness of who you are and which roles you play in each other’s lives comes.

Attachment is selfish by nature, so you always need to be close to a person to feel safe, you are jealous without any reason and try to control everything.

Ego-Reducing Love VS Ego-Boosting Attachment

When you are in love, you feel capable of everything. Love is your inspiration and you feel as if you can change the world. This feeling enables you to show more respect and love for your partner. His success makes you happy.

But a relationship, lead by ego, triggers recurrent problems and a power struggle. You should always be on the alert so that the partner does not become the main one in the relationship. You should be the one, who call the shots.

Sober Love VS Blind Attachment

You assess soberly your partner, cherish him and understand all his shortcomings and dignities. You accept the person as he is without trying to alter him.

While when you are attached, you don’t see the person’s flaws. You think that a person is perfect and defend the partner even if he hurts you.

Everlasting Love VS Fleeting Attachment

Love survives all hardships and it doesn’t fade with time, on the contrary, it becomes stronger. Partners cultivate it together and live for many years due to an exceptional connection between their hearts.

As for the attachment, it passes quickly. You don’t experience strong emotions and if you break up, all you feel is resentment because the second half hasn’t made you happy.

Stimulating Love VS Encumbering Attachment

If you are in an equal relationship, then you evolve personally together. You can succeed because you know that the partner always gets your back.

If it is attachment, then you are dependent on your spouse and he solves all your problems. It affects negatively your personal development and puts an unnecessary burden in relations.

What Can You Do About Attachment?

If you want to enjoy life, then you should get rid of this unhealthy attachment. Sometimes it’s very challenging, but still, it is attainable. Here are some tips for you:

  1. Become more distracted from the object of your attachment. Don’t cling to him or her, be engaged in activities, which help you to evolve.
  2. Eliminate your ego because love is a partnership and the master and a slave don’t exist, you are equal in your rights and duties. It’ll be painful, but you’ll endure it.
  3. Learn to be grateful and don’t take all things the partner does for you for granted. Try to appreciate even small things and be mutual.
  4. Attachment is clingy, so be independent and let your loved one be autonomic too. You do not owe each other anything except boundless love. Realize that you can have different friends, interests, and dreams, learn to understand and respect them. Do not be jealous and do not impose your opinion.
  5. Assess the partner soberly if you are planning a long-term perspective. After all, you will live with a real person, not with the ideal human. Learn to see the shortcomings of a loved one, accept them and do not idealize your soul mate. The spouse can disappoint you when he or she does not live up to your expectations, but it will be your fault because you have created an unattainable ideal for yourself.

Thereby, attachment appears when a person needs a distraction from unresolved emotional issues, whereas love appears when you discover and appreciate the beauty, which lies deep within a person’s soul. Don’t mistake attachment for love and then you’ll enjoy a wonderful journey of mutual happiness and bliss.

Author’s bio

Andrew Guerra is the founder of He likes to share his thoughts with the people around. His writing on motivation, love has appeared to make our life better. Andrew believes in fairness and human wisdom.

1 responses to "How To Understand The Difference Between Real Love And Attachment"

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  1.   pkrulez79 says:
    Posted: 13 May 18

    Nice article!

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