The Difference between Love and Attraction

In one of the previous posts, we looked at why we tend to fall in love with the wrong kind of person. In this post, we dig a little deeper into the mechanics of attraction and link it to our own deep traumas and insecurities.

The so-called love is an intense energetic feeling of wanting to grab something or somebody and bring it as close to you as possible. In our popular culture, this emotion is exalted as the pinnacle of human relationships and indeed life itself. But when examined closely, this is better labeled as – attraction. The root of this ‘pull’ lies within our own psychology.

Often, we share great compatibility, great friendships with certain people, but we do not fall in love with them. These people are loving, kind, and want to take care of us – and yet – we do not seem to get attracted to them. On the other hand, we fall for the elusive ones, the ones that hurt us, the ones that are seldom available to us. And this is a mystery. Why does this happen?

Know that the deep imprints of emotional trauma reside in most of us. These can be feelings of unworthiness, insecurity, loneliness, self-hate, or fear. Most of us have these feelings embedded deep in our subconscious minds. In the course of our normal lives, these deep scars stay hidden and dormant. They begin to rear their ugly heads only when we are faced with an external emotional event. For instance, in a relationship, our partner pulls the wrong trigger. Or at work, our colleagues behave in a certain manner. It could be a family or friends situation. We seem to get trapped in such situations. Something ‘comes over us’. And we over-react. Anger is a common reaction. Sadness, tears, and the tendency to run away and shut oneself off is another. Such events trigger the fight (anger) or flight (run away) response in most of us.

The strange thing is that we keep getting caught up in these situations again and again. There appears to be a peculiarity in its periodicity. The same thing in relationships – we fall for exactly those types of people who press our buttons, who abuse us, who are never available, who fear intimacy, and so on.

Understand that the root of the problem lies within ourselves. The external person, thing, or situation is just a trigger. A trigger evokes these dormant emotions that we have been carrying for ages. Our task, therefore, is to go to the source of that feeling, the source of our existential insecurities. Most of us are not even aware of these insecurities within us. But as we quieten the mind, these begin to surface into our awareness.

The technique is simple. Sit down on a comfortable couch, close your eyes and go inward. Your task is to simply observe the things that arise in your mind – without any judgment whatsoever. And as we begin witnessing our own thoughts and emotions, we begin to settle down. Slowly, we can take our attention to painful memories. Something that happened in school. Perhaps a relationship. Perhaps the day we were fired. Perhaps the day someone close to us passed away. When we remember these memories, the pain of the event surfaces as strong emotions. Our throats could choke, tears may cascade from our eyes, our hearts could wrench or our stomach could jump. Whatever the emotion, we can begin to accept and feel them.

These feelings are desperately trying to come into the light of our awareness. The only way to heal is to bring it out into our awareness. Existence, life, or nature – however you want to call it – is desperately trying to bring this out. This is why our subconscious get attracted to those people who can help evoke those painful feelings in us. It is actually doing us a favor, by forcing awareness onto us. External situations are merely reflections of our internal situation. Life wants us to grow, evolve, and mature – and the only way to do this is to resolve these existential traumas and emotions.

When we sit with ourselves and see that the source of our miseries is within us, we begin to take ownership of these feelings. This way we slowly stop projecting our internal discomfort on external situations and people. This is taking responsibility for your feelings. When we do this, we break the chain of attraction to the external. We begin to address the deep hole within us. Through loving attention and awareness this hole is healed. We come to realize that we are complete, that we lack nothing at all. This is the beginning of the journey to healing ourselves.

Then, we slowly begin to lose the attraction to those who will apparently hurt us, harm us. Once the attraction falls away, such characters stop appearing in our lives. Then, we can truly love. Yes, there may be an attraction – attraction for good qualities, perhaps the form of the person, some skills, and so on – but not that inexplicable attraction that most of us have succumbed to. This sets up the foundation for mutual respect and love. A relationship where both grow together, share, and feel a shared sense of being human. This, then is what love is.

Most likely a Greater Spotted Eagle. Blackbuck National Park. Gujarat. 2020.

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