Attachment vs Acceptance

Now that I have spent so much time pointing out fundamental structural process problems with the current framework of human intimacy let’s look at a key foundation of building a new paradigm. It is the distinction of attachment vs. acceptance.

Let’s start with attachment. Attachment is the pivotal process of the current system. Almost as soon as we connect with someone we like, we start planning entanglement. In fact the current superstition is that attachment IS the key to intimacy. Before I can open up to you I need to know you are safe, I need to know that you think I am special, I need to know how you are going to act and if you are going to be there for me. There is typically a key point in a relationship when you know the attachment is in place and that is when the focus shifts from when you are going to be together to when you are going to be apart. There is nothing intrinsically the matter with any of these items. The attachment stems from measuring how someone feels about me based on what they do in regards to these items. Such as: I will know you are safe because you will refrain from activities that trigger my insecurities. ( “My partner has been hurt before so I am going to honor them by not having any other intimate relationships, even if it means giving up close friendships I already have” “I am not going to look at other women” )

I will know you think I am special by the fact that I am the ONLY one you make special. The ONLY one you are this close to. I am the ONE and the ONLY. I know that you are going to be there for me by what you show me you are willing to sacrifice. You will give up things, even if they matter to you, for the good of our relationship. If something takes up too much time or is in some other way too inconvenient to us, I will let it go so that you know I am there for you. The underlying components to this aspect of attachment is that what you do means something about me. Another aspect of attachment is that form is king. The form of the relationship is primary and is key to intimacy. The form is how it looks: Living together, being married, financial entanglement, wether we are having sex or not, how much time we spend with each other. In the framework of attachment form dictates feelings. “I love you, till death do us part, unless you want to live somewhere away from me, or love someone else too, or not be married to me THEN I hate your guts and never want to see you again”

When we get into relationships based on attachment the focus seems to be “where are we going” Moving in, buying houses, getting real jobs….seeking intimacy ‘out there’

Let’s juxtapose that to acceptance.

Acceptance is embracing and celebrating someone for who they are, exactly and completely the way they are right now. It is the intention of having someone be more of who they are every day. Being in enthusiastic support of someone following their passion in each moment. No matter where that takes them or how. Loving from the place of acceptance does not come from a place of how it effects me. Instead of thinking about how someone is going to fit into my life and what it is going to bring me by being with them, it focuses on celebrating who they are and their vision for their life. It is being turned on by what turns them on. You cannot have acceptance for someone else if you don’t have acceptance for yourself so all this support for someone starts with supporting, celebrating, and accepting yourself. You cannot compromise your own passion and truth and uphold it for someone else. Acceptance is not driven by the form of the relationship it is driven by authentic communication. It is not focused on ‘commitment’ and ‘where are we going’. it is focused on full expression now. Acceptance is not looking to someone else for approval so it does not require anything from anyone for my happiness or to make it safe for me. Acceptance does not try to ‘hold on to what we have’ it is constant change. Acceptance is Love is Freedom and it only lives in the moment.

There is a prevalent story line of someone finding themselves after a bad relationship, long soul sucking marriage, or some big traumatic event. They take in that they are lost in their grief and they discover strengths and things that matter that they either forgot or didn’t ever know were there. Then as they start to move in empowerment they start drawing bright alive spirits to them. Then someone romantically compelling comes along and in the excitement of the feelings the recently discovered empowerment, which so far has all been an inside discovery, gets entangled with the feelings for that person. All of sudden this new love is evidence of god rewarding us for doing well. Then we start to look to that relationship as a gauge to our on-going progress. The SECOND we do this, the very second that we shift our focus to managing and growing how someone else shows up for us. The very second we become attached to how someone feels about us and what they are doing that will prove it. The very moment we move away from an inside barometer, it feels sideways in our gut. We then start rationalizing this lack of alignment and step by step, day by day, we start compromising who we are until we find our selves lost, resigned, and/or in grief. It happens over and over.

It is possible to deeply love and be intimate without losing ourselves. In fact it is only possible if we don’t lose ourselves. Acceptance of life, me, and everyone I love is the key. Attachment is the contrast to acceptance. Acceptance is love. Attachment is fear.

I am not saying that we cannot create a safe place for someone. Having loving support from others is strong element in our self esteem and growth. The two keys points to creating this in an authentic way are: 1) It does not take on responsibility for another person. 2) It is not based on the form. It does not have requirement for that person to show up in a certain way.

Showing a person unconditional, non judgmental, consistent, feedback and support will help build a safety zone. A metaphor for the distinction would be offering an oasis or truck stop on an individuals journey. NOT for it to be a final destination or the end of the individual part of the journey.

I cannot over emphasize the power of the need to feel special to someone. Because we don’t feel our own specialness from the inside we are passionately seeking it from the outside. From someone. It is also something that we are in persistent fear of losing (or never finding) The underlying dynamic is that we don’t really think we are special. We don’t feel worthy of the love we are seeking so we cannot possibly take it in from someone else. In the romantic feelings we often feel like we are finding what we are seeking and if it is not centered from within there will always be a fear of losing it. Of being discovered as the unloveable being that we are and be abandoned and hurt. Because that feeling of being in love always passes attempting to hold onto this becomes increasingly more work. The need to feel special to someone else is an addiction. Like all addictions it is an attempt to fill something on the inside with something on the outside. Because this cannot work we hold onto a feeling we had from that first ‘hit’ and we chase that feeling to all ends.

The key distinction is the focus of the source of the specialness. If we are seeking to free and express our own specialness from inside. If we are not seeking someone else as the source of this or to be responsible. With this grounding it can be powerful to have someone appreciate and support our authentic expression.

Life is a paradox. When we engage in relationships based on attachment we are always focused on what needs to change. Yet we create a structure that actively resists change. Ironically when breaking up the phrase “They are not the same person I fell in love with” is a common expression. It exposes the fallacy of the change focus. On the other other hand relationships based on acceptance are focused in celebrating exactly what is right now. It does not carry an intention or focus on change. Yet, acceptance is the key to change. A relationship based on acceptance is in a constant dance of change.

Attachment is based on attempting to fix insecurities by making things safe. This is actually an agreement to nurture insecurities and when something is nurtured it grows. So the insecurities get stronger not the other way around.

Acceptance does not put the value on safety or even comfort. Allowing my insecurities in, observing them, feeling them, accepting them for exactly the way they are is the process of disempowering their influence on my life.

Attachment is focused on actions. In a relationship this is a primary focus on what my partner is doing and it how relates to me. Everything they do is met with the question “What does this mean about me?” If they want to get close to someone else then it means I am not enough. How much time they will spend with me and how much they are willing to compromise for me is the gauge for how worthwhile I am. The over-arching message is “If you do certain things than I can be more”

Acceptance is focused on being. What is my state of being? What are my feelings? What does this show me about myself? By holding my own circle of awareness and responsibility I discover that being drives my doing not the other way around. My actions are an expression of who I am being in each and every moment. My actions can be observed and learned from and the primary focus is on being not doing. Needless to say then the focus most certainly is not what someone else is doing.