What is attachment? What is connection? What is the difference between the two? Stick with me here, because I think that there are some interesting tidbits in a discussion about attachment and connection. If you look up the official definition of the word “attachment,” you will notice that the primary description is not necessarily referring to human attachment, but I think it speaks volumes. attachment (noun) an extra part or extension that is or can be attached to something to perform a particular function. When we attach to other people in relationships, we forget that they become for us, and us for them, an extra part or extension that is there for perform a particular function. I don’t mean that people are there to be used by us, but I do mean that attachment is about two separate entities making a connection, not about two separate entities becoming one.
I think that when attachment or connection become unhealthy is when the latter of those two occur-that two separate entities become one. When there is that much enmeshment in a relationship, it becomes difficult to see where one ends and where the other begins. When I was younger, I would have never imagined that could be unhealthy. In fact, 16 year-old me was convinced that was exactly what she wanted-a romantic relationship that was so close that we knew what the other was thinking before we ever even said it. #goals, right? Now that I am well into my adulthood, I have a different perspective on the whole thing and, instead, strive to maintain a functional attachment and a functional connection. One in which we are an extension of each other, attached at certain points, but still able to maintain our shape and perform our individual functions.
I didn’t meet my husband until I was 31 years old and my dating record prior to him is something for another post, to say the least. I spent a lot of time as a single gal and even lived completely alone for several glorious years. I had the opportunity to nurture my relationship with me prior to entering into this romantic relationship that I have chosen and, at the time, was not super pleased with consecutive years of Christmases and Valentine’s Days and New Years Eves spent alone. Now I can see that the result of that time I spent is that I know me pretty dang well and, what is more, I like me most of the time. So, what happened when the husband and I started dating seriously is that I latched on to my independence and did not want to let go. I obviously wanted to spend time with him (I was falling in love after all) but I did NOT want to give up me. So, I didn’t. We spoke about it at great length and have been able to live harmoniously ever since by following a simple guideline-we both have a right to our space (both physically and metaphorically). We plan our schedules with purpose and make sure that we have time that dedicated to each other but also that we have time that is dedicated to ourselves. One night recently I arrived home and he had gotten off work early, which is not a big deal, but I had expected to have the house to myself. This particular day was quite a heavy one and I like to decompress by literally sitting in silence. He gave me that time. He kissed me hello and vacated the front room for a half an hour so that I could have my space. It was such a lovely gesture and I appreciated it greatly.
Relationships are not one sized fits all and I don’t think that any one relationship is like another. I do not intend to tell you that I think your relationship and my relationship should look exactly the same. I do, however, hope that you take stock of your attachments, your connections. Do you feel like you have simply added another part or extension that is there to perform a particular function? Or do you feel like your machinery has been taken over to the point where you don’t even recognize it anymore? Just things to consider while on this journey.