You may or may not have heard it before, but non-attachment (if you go about it the right way) can benefit your relationship in more ways than one.
Wait for one minute and understand the context from which this is coming.
Usually, words like ‘non-attachment’ tend to evoke negative thoughts in the minds of a number of people. When you hear the word, your mind may paint the picture of a detached person who doesn’t smile, doesn’t possess the ability to feel anything toward the people surrounding them, and has commitment issues.
However, non-attachment (especially in the context of this article) isn’t all these.
In this article, we will go over the difference between non-attachment and indifference, why you should learn how to love without attachment, and a few tips on how to practice healthy detachment in relationships.
What is non-attachment
Non-attachment (in a romantic relationship) is a state of mind in which you approach your relationship from a rational, non-clingy perspective.
Here, you approach your partner and the subject of your relationship from an objective perspective, and you are also able to function as an independent entity even when your partner isn’t around you.
When you are in a non-attachment relationship, you understand that you are the one that has the power to define your happiness, and you’re able to walk away from the relationship once it no longer makes sense to you.
From connections you developed with family members as an infant to the romantic relationships you will get into as an adult, emotional attachment goes a long way to define how you relate with everyone you meet in your lifetime.
However, as far as your romantic relationships go, practicing non-attachment will help you keep a firm grip on yourself and can even impact your mental health in the long run.
Indifference Vs. Non-attachment: Is there any difference between the two
Now that we have defined non-attachment, there’s a need to establish the fact that there’s a huge difference between indifference and non-attachment.
Non-attachment is a mental state that allows you to stay in control of your emotions even while you are still in a relationship. It keeps you away from becoming a clingy partner that has relinquished all power to the other party in the relationship.
Indifference, on the other hand, is simply a lack of interest in a person. It is also defined as apathy, a psychological attitude. This implies that indifference is a mental attitude of being completely disinterested in a person or thing.
In this context, indifference in a relationship occurs when one or both partners have little or no emotional interest in themselves.
With these in perspective, let us answer the next question that comes to mind.
Is non-attachment healthy or unhealthy
You may have this kind of friend. Even if you don’t, you may have come across someone that’s like this or seen this in the movies you’ve watched.
They meet and fall in love with someone (over a period of time). At first, their relationship is all rosy, and you would even describe it as ‘the stuff of dreams.’ You see them all over the internet, and you can bet that their lives are perfect as they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.
Suddenly, one person begins to pull away from the other (in this context, the other party’s pulling away from your friend or that person you know who has, over that period of time, become so emotionally invested in them).
At first, they excuse their emotional distance with many other external factors. They may even try to explain the situation because the partner is busy with work, under a lot of pressure, or has many responsibilities to take care of and would just need some time to process things.
This explanation provides a sense of hope until it becomes glaring that something else has gone wrong.
After a long time (and when the logical explanations don’t quite cut it), they have to deal with the fact that the partner may no longer be interested in them. At this time, the tides turn over, and they have to start doing the chasing in the relationship.
They clear their schedules and make themselves available for the person, only to get turned down again and again.
The person begins to rescind all their initial promises, starts treating them like garbage, and expects to remain on the receiving end of all the attention that they’re getting.
Somewhere deep down, that friend knows that they should cut their losses and walk out of that relationship with all the dignity they can find.
However, they’ve become too emotionally invested in that person that they cannot begin to imagine living their lives without being romantically involved with them.
Sometimes, after a lot of external help/internal motivation, they may be able to gather the shards of their lives and move on from that bad breakup. Other times, they may not be able to achieve this.
Deep down, the major cause of their inability to pick themselves up (when it became evident that they weren’t appreciated and valued as much as they should have been) was because they couldn’t practice letting go of attachment to their partner.
“Suffering arises from an attachment to desires; including attachment to romantic relationships and sensual desires, because attachment is transient and loss is inevitable. This, in essence, means that an excessive and overwhelming attachment leads to suffering, even in a relationship.”
With all these in place, practicing non-attachment in your relationship is healthy because it helps you to protect your mental health and also gives you the space to continually practice self-love.
Even if your partner decides that they aren’t interested in the relationship anymore, you won’t spend your time wishing for the return of a ship that has sailed.
However, to access all the benefits associated with non-attachment, you must approach it from a healthy perspective, which is the perspective of being an independent and self-fulfilling individual, not in a bid to make your partner feel unappreciated or unloved.
Benefits of non-attachment in a relationship
Here are some of the benefits of non-attachment in romantic relationships.
1. Non-attachment protects your mental health
Although this may be something you may not want to admit, not all your relationships will eventually lead to a long-term commitment like a marriage. At some point in your adult life, you may experience a breakup.
Research has shown that breakups can cause emotional and mental health challenges, including anxiety, tiredness, and even trigger a series of stress hormones that can make you feel like you are having a heart attack.
Although it is almost impossible to experience a breakup without some of these negative feelings, certain factors can affect how bad you will feel after a breakup. The biggest factor is emotional attachment.
The more emotionally attached you are to your partner, the more intense these negative feelings would be.
Because the root of suffering is attachment, practicing non-attachment in your relationship will help protect your mental health.
Check out this video about attaining peace through detachment:
2. Non-attachment keeps the power in your hands
When you practice unattached love, you will notice that the power will remain within your hands. Power, in this context, means that you wouldn’t be waiting on your partner for validation, and you would be able to function as an independent entity (not a clingy partner).
No one likes a clingy partner, and there’s every possibility that your partner’s respect for you may start dropping if they feel like you’re bending over backward to be with them. With this in place, your partner understands that they should treat you with the utmost respect and this, in turn, rubs off on your sense of self-esteem.
3. Non-attachment positions you to experience unconditional love
One reason why many people are unable to experience and give unconditional love in their relationships is that they’re stuck in a net of fault-finding and cynicism.
When you practice non-attachment in your relationship, you are able to approach it from a rational point of view.
Non-attachment will help you take away many excessively high expectations you have of your partner.
When you have gotten these out of the way, it is easier to understand that your partner is human as well and would make some mistakes as time passes. This perspective helps you keep a positive attitude even when the relationship isn’t as smooth as you would want it to be.
With these factors in place, it is easier for you to experience unconditional love in your relationship. Also, if your partner understands this, it is easier for them to love and accept you as well.
This compromise makes your relationship a much better experience.
So far, we have proven that attachment and suffering have a way of going hand in glove.
To protect yourself from experiencing deep levels of pain and to enjoy your relationship to the fullest, practicing non-attachment in your relationship is necessary.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.