Attachment Vs Love: True Emotions Revealed

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Do You Love Them Or Just Attached?’ by Psych2Go

Written by: Recapz Bot

Written by: Recapz Bot

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Love is subjective and means different things to everyone with three components: emotion, compatibility, and attachment; unhealthy attachment can blind us to red flags, while healthy love involves coping with conflict, consistency, safety, boundaries, and validation, improving well-being.

Key Insights

  • Love is a subjective experience that means something different for everyone.
  • Love should involve three components: the emotion itself, compatibility, and attachment.
  • Attachment can exist without healthy love and may blind us to red flags in relationships.
  • Signs of healthy love include coping with conflict in adaptive ways, consistency in fulfilling the relationship, feeling of safety, having healthy boundaries, validating needs, and adding value and meaning to one's life.
  • Emotional invalidation can harm the relationship and lead to feelings of worthlessness and distrust.
  • Unhealthy attachment styles can be mistaken for love but are characterized by low self-esteem, dependency, anxiety, and neediness.
  • Healthy love provides understanding, acceptance, security, a sense of belonging, and improvements in overall well-being.

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What is love? An age-old question that countless poets, artists, writers, musicians, and even scientists have tried to answer for centuries. But the simple truth is, love means something different for everyone. And yet, we all just know it when we feel it, right? Well, maybe not.

Because unlike every other emotion that comes and goes, we tend to put more meaning into love than we probably should. The most common example of this is when we let that fleeting feeling of attraction or fondness for someone blind us from all the red flags in our relationship, saying otherwise.

According to therapist and dating coach Kelsey Wunderland, healthy love requires three things: love, the emotion itself, compatibility, and attachment. So while you can feel love for someone even without the rest of these things, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy love. It could simply be attachment. And we can get attached to anyone, even when they’re not good for us.

So how can we know the difference? Well, here are six psychology-backed signs.

One, coping with conflict. When a relationship is just about attachment, especially the unhealthy kind, it’s likely that you develop maladaptive ways of coping with conflict. In an article by Dr. Karen Sosnowski and Kristin Kerenshian, some examples of this include codependency, when you cope with conflict by simply refusing to disagree with the other person, manipulation, such as the cold shoulder or withholding affection, and a general power imbalance in the relationship brought about by one party’s need for power and control.

Number two, consistency. Going back to what Dr. Kelsey Wunderland stated, we can feel an attachment towards anyone. So the key to telling the difference between love and attachment is consistency. Is the relationship consistently fulfilling? Do you both consistently engage in positive relationship maintenance behaviors, such as spending quality time together, verbal affection, physical affection, emotional intimacy? Because if not, it’s possible that the love you think you feel for this person could just be a product of your attachment towards them. You’ve just gotten so used to one another, or you feel like you don’t have any better options.

Number three, a feeling of safety. Another crucial difference between love and attachment, Dr. Wunderland tells us, is if the relationship creates a feeling of safety for everyone involved. If this person judges you for your body, your past, your goals, and so on, then it’s not a healthy love. Because according to two leading experts in relationship psychology, Drs. John and Julie Gottman, criticism is one of the quickest ways to ruin relationships. It makes us more defensive and hostile towards one another. And it takes away that feeling of safety we need in a relationship to allow for a deeper sense of connection, intimacy, mutual acceptance, and healthy love.

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Number four, healthy boundaries. In his book, Boundaries and Relationships, Knowing, Protecting, and Enjoying the Self, Dr. Charles Whitfield tells us that having healthy personal boundaries is key to nurturing a strong and loving relationship. One that’s built on a foundation of mutual trust, respect, genuineness, and care. Some of Dr. Whitfield’s examples of when our boundaries are being disrespected include when others try to control or manipulate us, when they purposefully hurt or harm us, when they don’t take no for an answer, and when they tell us what to do or how to feel.

Which brings us to our next point.

Number five, validating needs. Whether someone validates or invalidates your needs is a pretty good indicator of the quality of your relationship with them, but one we may not always be aware of. Think back to the last time you shared some vulnerable feelings or concerns with another person. Did they respond with empathy, support, and understanding? Or did they try to minimize your feelings, judge you for what you shared, or disregard it entirely? The latter is something psychologists call emotional invalidation, and according to psychology writer Brittany Carrico, it can often lead to feelings of worthlessness and isolation, as well as feelings of distrust and insecurity in the relationship. It’s when you don’t have the confidence to share your feelings or are afraid that your partner will invalidate your feelings.

And number six, added value. Finally, but perhaps most importantly, healthy love should add value and meaning to your life, unlike mere attachment. Psychologist Elaine Hatfield, who’s often credited as one of the pioneers of the scientific study of love, along with professor and historian Richard Rabson, wrote that anything that makes adults feel as helpless and dependent as when they were children increases their passionate craving to merge with others. In simpler terms, unhealthy attachment styles involving low self-esteem, issues with dependency and insecurity, anxiety, and neediness are the most likely reasons why some people often mistake unhealthy attachment for love. Healthy love, on the other hand, gives us a feeling of being understood and accepted, feeling safe and secure, as well as a strong sense of belonging and a significant improvement in our overall well-being.

So do you relate to any of the things we’ve mentioned here? Did these psychology-backed signs help you better differentiate between love and attachment? If you’ve been struggling to leave the relationship you’re unhappy in, thinking, but I love them, is it good enough reason? It might be good to consider if it’s just the attachment you’re actually feeling.

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Do You Love Them Or Just Attached?’ by Psych2Go