Many of us will struggle with unhealthy attachments, especially earlier in life. It is important to remember that you are your own person before any relationship.
●25th January 2023
While it is quite easy to confuse the two — and the lines get more and more blurred these days —- there are several distinct differences between a healthy loving relationship and unhealthy attachments. When a person has gone through both, it becomes somewhat easier to identify the red flags that screams unhealthy attachment. Unfortunately, many people either do not have great examples of healthy love in their life or they feel that unhealthy, toxic attachments are what they deserve and attract. As a person who grew up in an abusive home, attracting unhealthy attachments or toxic partners sort of became my default. A deflated esteem would have you trying to either seek approval — from a lot of people you have no business seeking approval from — or putting up with the bare minimum because that’s sadly what you’ve grown up knowing.
I typically chose partners who I felt like I needed to ‘save’ in some way. I chose partners who would behave nonchalant towards me, would behave like they did not need me, all to then challenge myself to prove my worth to them. I felt that in some way, once they accepted me and gave me the romantic love and attention I craved, I would then feel accepted in society. I wanted safety, companionship and affection from my partner yet I found myself time and time again going towards partners who were nowhere prepared to give me what I required. Toxic people can also see people with anxious attachments from far away, so they are drawn to many of us since we give them the back and forth they desire. The cat and mouse game, the sleepless nights on our part, the crying when they reject us etcetera. All of those things are appealing to people who are toxic and desire unhealthy attachments.
One of the first ways to identify unhealthy attachments are bonds which are made a little too fast. Yes, I am aware, “too fast” is pretty subjective and some people fall in love within a short time and their relationships turn out healthy. However, that was not the same in my case and in a lot of others I’ve observed. For me, when I met a potential partner, there was a tendency for them to love bomb me. They would want to be all up in my space within a short time, texting me non-stop within a few days and always inserting unnecessary sexual undertones within the conversation. There is nothing wrong with flirting or even the occasional sexual talk. However, when the entire relationship or connection is situated around the many things they enjoy in the bedroom, it’s usually a sign that that’s all they want.
Mainly, these conversations with toxic people are always centered around them. Their wants, needs or desires takes precedence over yours. I realize now that many of them were not even really into me, they just needed someone to entertain them for a short while before they inevitably moved on to someone new. If I even revealed some sort of discomfort or human feelings myself, they would throw tantrums until the conversation revolved around them once again.
Another way to identify unhealthy attachments is something I like to call ‘suffocation’. A person who behaves like they own you, is not a healthy attachment. A constant need to know where you are, what you’re doing, who you’re with hangs loosely in the balance between creepy and sweet and to be honest, more often than not, it leans towards the former. If you find yourself constantly consumed with thoughts of your partner, that connection may also not be healthy. Yes, while it may be hard to trust again after relationships where you may have been cheated on, becoming obsessive is not the answer. You will find that you lose so much of yourself while your mind is irrevocably wrapped around the choices another person might be making.
Unhealthy attachments are also largely unfriendly. If you find that your partner or potential connection makes it increasingly difficult for you to see your family or friends, you need toput some distance between you both. Love your partner, but interrogate how much of your decisions are made with an overwhelming pressure to ‘keep them’. Love is not a game, and you should never feel that your partner is about to leave you over the slightest thing or over you showing the other people in your life some love. Many of us will struggle with unhealthy attachments, especially earlier in life. It is important to remember that you are your own person before any relationship. As long as you have a strong love for yourself and a commitment to keep going, you will find it easy to abandon connections that trigger your fight or flight response.
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