The Gift of Being Unattached in Relationships
By Kate Rose
“Real love begins when nothing is expected in return.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
A healthy relationship doesn’t come by chance, but by choice.
Unattachment in love is truly possible. It isn’t about letting go of anything but rather changing our expectations of what we want from the relationship.
Regardless of how spiritual or evolved we are, relationships challenge our shadow side and point out the work we have to do in order to get past our childhood wounds.
Unattachment in love isn’t about letting go of the person, or even of the love itself.
It has to do with remaining unattached to any expectations or predetermined end result that many use to judge a successful relationship.
It seems that there is a blueprint for relationships that we all are expected to follow. We meet, we kiss, we talk, we spend more time together, we say I love you, we meet families, we move in and then of course a diamond ring will eventually follow.
Yet, that isn’t unattachment in love; rather it’s following a plan—and a rather limited one in my opinion.
In order to work toward unattachment in love—if that is what we are aiming to do—then we first have to work on ourselves and our triggers.
As humans we tend to have a difficult time with loose ends and with undefined or indescribable situations. For many of us, we like to know exactly where we are and what type of situation we are in so then we can play by the comforting corresponding rules.
Yet, we limit the type of love that we engage in.
Loving in a relationship based in unattachment doesn’t mean that we don’t care what the other person does, or that there is no chance for us to get hurt—but it does mean that we love them enough to simply let the relationship speak for itself rather than use customary titles.
When we can change our expectations, our experiences can change.
If we go into a new relationship with someone without any idealized thoughts on what it could become down the road, then we will give ourselves the opportunity for that union to develop organically, instead of forcing it inside the predetermined boundaries we use to define love.
Unattachment in love means that I love you because of the person you are, not because I am expecting you to love me back.
Unattachment in love means that I want to enjoy as many moments as I can with you because there is not a guarantee how long those opportunities will continue.
Unattachment in love is purely the ability to love someone freely. Both people are able to come and go at will, without ever feeling like there is an expectation for a specific set of behaviors or timelines.
The truth is, unattached love is not easy.
In order to truly love someone this way we have to first name and sit with our wounds; our fear of abandonment, rejection and whatever else we have been conditioned, since birth, to expect from a relationship.
Once we can do this work for ourselves—it doesn’t suddenly end, but rather becomes easier to navigate unattachment—we understand that our feelings don’t have to do with the other person, but with ourselves.
One of my wounds is the fear of abandonment, because since childhood I have been conditioned that eventually most men leave. Before I had healed this aspect of my psyche, I would lash out in anxiety and fear at the man in my life, based upon what I thought were his actions.
Yet now, when these same issues arise, I see them for exactly what they are—my reaction is completely different.
I no longer look for someone else to heal me, or to reassure me of their presence in my life, because I can do that for myself.
Regardless of how far this journey has taken me, sometimes I am still triggered—but now, I simply smile when I am because I know that it means I am going to be able to go deeper and evolve to a different level of unattachment.
In unattachment, we don’t let go of the other person—nor do we completely let go of all expectations. To let go implies that we are giving up, which also means we are walking away from the work that can be done on ourselves through our personal relationships.
Unattachment simply means that we are choosing to love in a mindful way. We are showing up for one another when we can. For times when we can’t show up, we are each individually happy.
It means respecting the journey of our partner as much as we do our own, knowing that in unattached love we can’t force anything. There is nothing in this world any of us can do to make someone love us, and there’s also nothing we can do to stop someone from falling in love with us either.
When we can approach love as an offering, regardless whether the beloved accepts or reciprocates it, we bask in the essence of what it truly means to care for another, apart from our own needs and wants.
Unattachment in love means acknowledging our feelings for another, regardless of action, choice or result. This may be the most real type of love.
“Our journey is about being more deeply involved in life, and yet less attached to it.”
~ Ram Dass
Author: Kate Rose
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
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