Love is such a personal thing, which makes it's difficult to define. Because of that, it's easy to mistake love for things like lust, need, and intense attraction. But if you want to avoid being stuck in a potentially unhealthy situation, pay attention to your partner and their behavior towards you. If something feels off, your partner's
love for you may just be attachment.
Laurel House, Relationship Coach and host of the Man Whisperer podcast, the difference between being in love and being attached is want and need. "When you're in love, you want them, but you don’t need them," she says. "It’s healthy, inspiring, enduring, trusting, happy, and confident."
It's so easy to confuse the two because they feel similar. But as
Jenna Ponaman, CPC, ELI-MP, Relationship Coach and Expert, tells Bustle, they are "driven from two very different origins." Love comes from a place of positivity, acceptance, and selflessness. Attachment, on the other hand, typically comes from a more selfish place of fear.
If your partner is just attached, it can manifest in a number of different ways. According to experts, here are some subtle signs that your partner
might not actually be in love with you, they're just attached. 1 They Like Being In Constant Communication With You
When your person can’t seem to get enough of you, it may seem like they’re madly in love. But the reality may be, they're just really attached. "People who are in love see the true value of their partner by
allowing them their space," Ponaman says. They want to keep their relationship "sacred" so they won't "dilute the relationship by overexposing it" with constant texts, calls, and spending time together. When someone is attached, they might try to control the relationship by staying in contact as much as they can so their partner knows they're always there. 2 They Get Jealous Very Easily
Being in a healthy and loving partnership requires trust. As Ponaman says, people in love often don't have time for jealousy. A partner that is attached can easily be overcome with jealousy, which stems from the fear of losing their partner. "They can be hyper-vigilant to anything that can potentially take that person away from them," she says. "It's all about the possession."
3 They Rely On Old Routines
"When your partner is simply attached, they rely on the old routines you’ve created, versus looking for ways to make the relationship grow,"
Weena Cullins, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. Healthy relationship based on love require work. Both partners should be willing to do what they can to keep making the relationship move forward. But if your partner seems to be content with going through the motions of your established routine, they're likely just attached. 4 They Tend To Take More Than They Give
When you're with someone who's attached, they
might become dependent on you because of the things you bring to their lives. According to Cullins, they're less likely to find ways to reciprocate the things you do for them. "If a partner stays in a relationship with you for their sole benefit without ensuring that you are reaping as many benefits, they [might be] simply attached and not in love with you," she says. 5 They Don't Seem To Have Their Own Identity Outside Of The Relationship
If your partner stopped sharing their opinions in order to avoid disagreements and confrontation, it's a sign that they don't want to risk losing you. When someone is attached and not in love, their relationship somehow becomes their entire identity,
Bethany Ricciardi, Sex and Relationship Expert with TooTimid, tells Bustle. You may be their only friend, their entire schedule may revolve around you, and you've stopped finding ways to compromise because they just go along with everything you say. "If they get upset when you do anything without them and start feeling lost, that's attachment," she says. 6 There's A Power Struggle In Your Relationship
In general, you'll know your partner is attached if your
relationship dynamic is unhealthy. In a loving relationship, both partners should empower each other and feel a healthy sense of freedom. But if one or both partners in a relationship are fighting to gain control, Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle, it may be attachment instead of love. 7 They Like Showing You Off On Social Media
"If your partner is adamant on publishing your love all over social media, it could be a sign they’re extremely attached to you and the relationship," Ricciardi says. They may be using your relationship to validate themselves or even their feelings for you. Of course this doesn't always meant that a partner is attached rather than in love, but take note if your partner does this out of a need to take ownership of you rather than share your happy moments.
8 They Want To Move The Relationship At A Faster Pace Than You
Love takes time to grow and develop. "Usually when two people fall in love, you’re both falling in a healthy way," Ricciardi says. But if it seems like your partner is moving a lot faster than you, they could just be attached, and not in love. Again, this could come from a place of fear. For instance, if you haven't made your relationship exclusive right away, they might fear you moving on to someone else.
Attachment issues can cause major problems in your relationship if they're not worked on. If your partner has these deeply rooted fears of being alone or you leaving, that's something they need to work on themselves. While you may love someone, no amount of reassurance can make them see it if they believe otherwise.
So always check in with yourself. Are you truly happy? If not, you can find someone who's not just attached, but actually loves you for who you are.
Get Even More From Bustle — Sign Up For The Newsletter
From hair trends to relationship advice, our daily newsletter has everything you need to sound like a person who’s on TikTok, even if you aren’t.
Subscribe to our newsletter >