Attachment and connection are two totally different things. But if you're unaware of the differences, it's easy to confuse one for the other. So how do you know if you're actually
connected to your partner or just attached? According to experts, there are some subtle signs you can look out for.
emotional connection is a bond between two people that's deeply rooted," relationship coach Jenna Ponaman, CPC, ELI-MP, tells Bustle. "It's a mutual understanding and empathy of one another’s feelings, that allow each individual to create a deep appreciation, affection, and intimacy with one another."
Attachment, on the other hand, feels a little
more like infatuation. For instance, one person may feel an "intense longing" for the other in a physical or intellectual sense, but the relationship stays more on the surface-level. Someone who is attached may even be in a relationship to fill a need or a void.
According to Ponaman, emotional connection and attachment can be easily confused because they can sometimes be seen as mutually exclusive. "Partners with an emotional connection can then experience attachment to one another, but someone that develops an attachment first will struggle to find an emotional connection if at all," she says. Basically, if you're attached to a relationship because it fulfills a need (i.e. a need to get married), you'll be more focused on reaching an end goal rather than building a deep and meaningful connection with your chosen partner.
But if you want a fulfilling relationship that goes the distance, you need connection, not just attachment. So here are some signs that you are attached to your partner but not emotionally connected, according to experts.
You Don't Just Want Your Partner, You Need Them
The difference between emotional connection and attachment is a lot like
love versus lust— it's easy to confuse the two because they may feel like one in the same. When you're attached, you'll feel a need to see or hear from your partner every day. As relationship expert Vikki Ziegler, tells Bustle, when this doesn’t happen you're likely to feel rejection and pain. Being emotionally connected is different. "You'll think of your partner lovingly with passion and warmth," she says. While you may like seeing your partner every day and you think of them all the time, it's not a need but a want.
You Enjoy Each Other's Company, But Your Conversations Lack Depth
When you are attached to your partner but not connected, you might spend a lot of time together because it's what you know. It's comfortable and you may even enjoy it. But as Dr. Benjamin Ritter, founder of
The Breakup Supplement, tells Bustle, your time together won't be spent having meaningful conversations. "Some silence in a relationship is wonderful as it does imply that you are comfortable with each other, but if the majority of your time in a relationship is spent in silence then there's an issue," he says.
The Touches You Give Each Other Are Comforting, Not Intimate
When you're not emotionally connected to your partner, the physical intimacy between the two of you may suffer. As Dr. Ritter says, "You may still cuddle or give each other kisses on the cheek, but it is more due to wanting to feel comfort and not passion or intimacy." According to him, attachment doesn't lead to passion and intimacy. Emotional connection does. "Couples that lack an emotional connection may stop flirting and seeking opportunities to make their partner feel desired," he says. You may even notice that compliments and similar comments come to a stop.
You Have Completely Separate Lives Outside Of The Relationship
There's nothing wrong with having
a life outside of your relationship. In fact, it's healthy. But when you're in a relationship you should try to find ways to integrate your partner into your life and vice versa. If you find yourself doing more and more things without your partner, Dr. Ritter says you may be trying to fulfill whatever it is that's missing from your relationship elsewhere.
You Secretly Worry That You're Not Good Enough For Them
"Connection is a feeling of love," coach
Nina Rubin, M.A., tells Bustle. When you're truly loved, you can be yourself around your partner and not worry about them leaving you. But if you feel like you need to please your partner in any way, Rubin says this could be a sign of codependent behavior. "There are many attachment styles people exhibit in relationships," she says. "In a healthy relationship, you and your partner can both thrive on your own, but feel great together also."
You Keep Negotiating Your Boundaries
"If you are negotiating your boundaries, your wants or your needs, you are not emotionally connected to your partner you are attached to the need for a relationship,
" dating safety and success coach, Teagin Maddox, tells Bustle. When you are emotionally connected to your partner, there's no need to "negotiate" your basic wants, needs, and desires. Those should already be met. "When you don’t want to risk rocking the boat for fear that it could cause a breakup, that's called 'peace keeper chaos,' not connection," she says. Basically, when you're attached, you're going to convince yourself to settle for less than you actually deserve.
You'll Turn To Your Friends And Family For Emotional Support Before You Go To Your Partner
When you're in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship, you'll likely find yourself turning to your friends or family for emotional support. "Vulnerability is key in building emotional connection," licensed professional counselor,
Julie Williamson, tells Bustle. "Vulnerability involves showing up, all of you, the real you, and letting yourself be seen by another." But if you can't feel safe and comfortable enough to do that in your relationship for whatever reason, you're probably just attached.
You Feel Like You Have To Try Extra Hard To Make A Connection Happen
People tend to enter a relationship with a particular idea of what it could be. "If it isn't becoming what they envisioned, a person who is attached will try to force the exact vision to happen, rather than being more open to seeing where the relationship can take you," Ponaman says. In some cases, people will stay in a relationship that's way
past its expiration date because they're attached instead of finding a partnership that's truly emotionally fulfilling.
It's important to be real with yourself about what you really want in a relationship. If your partner isn't fulfilling your needs, it's OK to move on and find someone else who does. But if you want a deeper emotional connection with your partner, it is possible. It really comes down to opening up, being vulnerable, and giving your partner a safe space to do the same. It may not be easy, but if you can both do that, you can build a deep connection that lasts.