Love Vs Attachment: Is It Truly Love?

By Dylan Buckley

Updated July 10, 2019

Loving someone and being loved in return is an amazing experience but not everyone is certain of when they are truly in love with another person and when they are feeling extreme feelings of attachment, lust, or passion towards someone. This confusion can often leave some individuals to feel unsure about their relationship and foster doubt rather than commitment.


The truth is that relationships are not always as solid as we initially believe and that feelings and emotions are fluid and not easily discernible, meaning that there is always the possibility that we may not feel the way we think we do and that these feelings can easily change and evolve into something else over time.

In any relationship, the thing that everyone craves is stability. They want to know that the relationship they are dedicating their time and energy to is not one that is going to fall apart down the road. While this cannot be guaranteed and you will have to go through the relationship in order to find out, there are some ways that you can figure out whether or not the relationship you are in is worth your time or if you are simply in the relationship for your own needs.

To learn more about love and attachment, continue reading the information provided below to help you learn the differences between the two concepts and where you currently are in your own relationship.

Firstly, What Is Love?

Love is a very complex emotion and given the fact that there are so many other emotions out there that tend to mimic some of the main components of love, it can be hard to determine what you are feeling for another individual when you are in the moment.

To oversimplify it and make it more comprehensible for those interested, the following sentence sums up what love is in a few words:

Love Is Selfless.

When it comes to being in a relationship with someone we love, we are typically focused on them. We love and celebrate all that they are and while our own needs do matter, we do our best put our significant other's needs first and make sure that there is plenty of room in the relationship for compromise. Both parties are happy in this situation and while there is conflict, the strong bond that is shared between you and your lover is able to overcome almost anything that is thrown your way.

To gain even further insight into this, you can also reference love in terms of friendship and family. Love can tend to get a little more muddled when physical intimacy and other aspects but love with a friend or a family member is relatively straightforward. These types of relationships are ones in which both parties enjoy spending time with each other, care about each other, and do the most to make sure that the other one is happy. True, there are moments when these relationships become strained or there are moments where one party can annoy the other but in the end, the relationship is based on love and is allowed to continue.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have an attachment.

Attachment Is Selfish.


When we are attached to someone, we are often in that relationship to meet our needs. Being attached to someone means that we are receiving something from the relationship that keeps us there and these types of relationships are often unhealthy for us and for the other person involved. While attachment may seem like love, the highs and lows are typically far stronger and there are some telltale signs that help individuals to determine whether they are attached or in love with their partner.

Love Or Attachment? Signs To Pay Attention To

Here are some of the most common situations or feelings that you may have encountered within your relationship that will help you to distinguish between true love or attachment.

You Feel Nervous And Upset When You Are Not With Your Partner

Love is based on trust. Trust is the foundation which allows two people to go about their day without worrying that their partner may be doing something that could ruin the relationship. Attachment, on the other hand, tends to leave people feeling anxious and upset when their partner is gone. When they're together, the person who is attached may feel very passionate and happy that their partner is there with them but when they leave, they may get anxious and have to know what their partner is doing at all times in order to feel a bit of peace. If they do not get in contact with their partner, they may feel even worse about the situation and can easily go to drastic measures to attempt to contact them. If you feel this way when your partner is away from you, you are very much attached, not in love.

You Are Not Someone Without Your Partner

When you fall in love and enter a relationship with someone, you begin to develop a joint identity. This is a life that consists of everything you and your partner enjoy doing together and many people will able to see that there is this separate entity that has been created from the relationship. However, this does not mean that you lose all sense of self. Space is needed in order for relationships to thrive and couples still maintain their own identities, do their own things, and enjoy time apart even when they are in love and in a relationship.


In relationships where one or both partners are attached, the relationship becomes the sole focus and some people may give up on their own lives entirely. They will try to spend every second with their significant other and they will dedicate their time and their freedom to making sure that they can be with their partner. Over time, there really is no life of their own. Instead, they simply exist within the relationship and seek to possess the partner in a way that rids both people of their singular identities. They may also become so dependent upon the person that they are attached to that they are unable to function in certain capacities without them. We may see power struggles in these kinds of relationships where one person takes advantage of the attached person as well. Attachment relies on possession while love allows for space to exist.

How Your Partner Treats You Dictates Your Entire Mood

When two people in love get into a fight or when one partner is not in a positive mood, it can definitely put a damper on things but it typically does not ruin the mood of the other person. The other partner will simply address the issue and go about their day but they will not adopt that mood. When someone is attached to another individual, however, how they are treated by their partner will dictate how they feel for the rest of the day and these moods will often be extreme. Say, for example, that their partner decides to ignore them. They may respond by feeling terrible, crying, or exhibiting other negative behaviors as a result of the actions of their partner. Likewise, attention or gifts can elevate the mood very high and make the partner's entire day. These drastic mood shifts can create an overall toxic environment in which a partner can withhold or give love in order to gain control over the attached person. Overall, this sign of attachment can be one of the more dangerous aspects of a relation.

You Want More Than Your Partner Does

Love is a two-way street and you need to take and give in order to keep a relationship healthy. Those who are in love are well aware of this fact and do what they can to make sure that both themselves and their partner is happy so as to keep the relationship going. You expect that your partner will take care of you and you put out the effort to take care of your partner. In a relationship with unhealthy attachment problems, one partner will keep taking from the other without needing or wanting to give back. This goes back to the theme that attachment is selfish. A partner is staying in that relationship because their partner is giving them the attention that they need in order to thrive and survive and while there may be some giving going on, they may not give reciprocate what they are receiving.


On the same note, this point can refer to a partner who is looking for more out of the relationship or who is attempting to move a relationship quicker than the other partner wants. Because one partner is severely attached or possessive, they will want to force the relationship to move faster so as to keep their partner in the relationship. If the pressure is allowed to continue on and one partner gives in, both partners can be stuck in a relationship that neither one truly wants. Overall, one partner wanting more than the other partner can be a major sign that one of the partners is attached.

While love and attachment may seem like two very similar things to experience, it can be very easy to differentiate them when you break them down and the list above should help you to better accomplish this. In some instances, relationships, where attachment thrives, may be too toxic to save and some can be able to be fixed with the right plan and changes made by both parties. However, an outside perspective is often needed to make this happen (if there is a relationship there to salvage).

If you believe that there are unhealthy attachment problems in your relationship and both you and your partner want to take the actions necessary to remedy this issue, one great resource to use to your advantage is BetterHelp. BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that provides anyone with access to a certified therapist who can help them with a wide range of issues and guide them through the process of improving these problems at home and on their own schedule. All you have to do to begin your own journey is to click on the link above and get started today!

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