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unhealthy emotional attachment | Terezia Farkas | Beliefnet

An unhealthy emotional attachment differs from love. An emotional attachment is a strong emotional bond to something. That something can be a person, object, or idea. The emotional attachment serves to fill a need in you. That need can range from a primary need to have shelter and security, to a need to fill a void in your sense of self-esteem. 

Love, on the other hand, is not a need. There is no need to love that person. There is no need to have the person in your life. Simply put, love is a feeling directed at a person. Love is not demanding. Love is respectful, kind, and generous. At its finest, love is a two-way street, where love is shared in equal measure between two people.

What are unhealthy emotional attachments?

There’s are a lot of ways a person can have an unhealthy emotional attachment. The attachment can be to a person, object, or idea. Usually the person is so used to the attachment, that even if it’s a negative influence or detrimental, the person is reluctant to see the problem for what it is, or to give up the attachment.

We’ve seen it with the ugly boyfriend or girlfriend who uses their partner. Or the negative family member who visits and criticizes everything about you, but you keep inviting the person over because your partner, at some emotional level, is seeking the relative’s approval.

The unhealthy attachment to a belief.

A belief helps you interpret your everyday reality. A belief doesn’t have to be based in scientific fact. It is an idea that you’ve accepted. Over time, that idea is proven to be true again and again. Not necessarily by anything that can prove the idea as real or true, but by situations and experiences that seem to fit the model. In fact, a person who keeps having a negative experience every time he wears black will start believing that black clothes bring bad luck. There’s no proof, but the person believes it.

The emotional attachment to a belief can become unhealthy over time if the belief gives more negatives than positives. It can also be unhealthy if the belief creates fear, anxiety, and anger.

It is almost impossible to break the attachment to a belief. That’s because a belief can be so baked into a person, no idea except that which confirms or helps the belief along is accepted. Everything else is dismissed as fake.

Unhealthy personal attachments.

If the unhealthy attachment is to a person, it’s easier to break, but it takes time and effort. Emotional attachments with people is like looking at a mirror. You form attachments to people who mirror some part of yourself. If you’re insecure, shy, stressed out, or high-strung, that’s the type of person you’ll bond to. You may subconsciously seek out traits that mirror yours. Or, you might become attached because you feel so familiar with the person and situation. After all, you’re used to dealing with that kind of stuff.

Empaths – people who are sensitive to other people’s emotions – are particularly vulnerable to unhealthy emotional attachment. An empath absorbs the negativity of the other person. That negativity influences the empath’s self-esteem and belief system.

Are you in love or emotionally attached?

If you’re in love, you will feel the emotion towards the another person. It can be confusing, because you might be wondering if you’re only emotionally attached.

Remember, emotional attachment is a bond to something. There is usually some sort of personal demand put on you. For instance, you love a guy but he always wants to go out with his guys for beer on the weekend. He expects you to be okay with it, but he won’t give you any time to go out with your friends. Love would not act that way. Love would create a compromise, where either you get to join your boyfriend and his friends, or you get a girls night out.

Emotional attachment also has fear, anxiety, and stress in the relationship. There’s always a hidden fear that something will go wrong, the partner will leave, or you’re not good enough. Love is respectful. It doesn’t demand things, or create fear through threats or abuse. Love is a two-way street, and both people get an equal amount of joy and happiness from the relationship.

Next time: Letting go of an unhealthy emotional attachment

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