Obsessive relationships

Intimate relationships can be one of the greatest sources of joy in our lives. However, as with most enjoyable things, it is easy to become attached. This occurs when we start to seek too much from the relationship, when we start to see it as integral to our happiness. It is dangerous to seek too much from anything in life. We are each responsible for our own happiness and it is foolish to deny this responsibility. We should avoid being addicted to spending time with our partner, becoming attached to sexual gratification from our partner, or any other situation in which we rely on our partner for our own happiness.

The problems of obsession with a loved one are the same as those of an obsession with anything else. However, in the case of relationships, the seriousness is often downplayed. While everyone knows the harm caused by a gambling addiction, many are not so concerned about a “love addiction”. It is considered normal, maybe even romantic. The crux of the problem lies in the use of the word “love”: people take an obsession or an attachment and they call it love. This leads them to assume that it is a good thing.

Clearly, love is a good thing, but attachment is not. Often we want our partner to be attached to us because it provides reassurance. Many songs contain supposedly romantic lyrics about how much someone “needs” another. In practice however, love most easily arises in the absence of need. Love is an unselfish and open state, which is quite the opposite of need (see Love and need). When a relationship is based on attachment, we have problems such as selfishness, possessiveness, insecurity, and disappointment. A relationship based on love has no such issues.

Therefore, we should avoid attachment in a relationship just as we should avoid attachment in other areas of life. Instead of needing something external for our happiness, we must take responsibility for our own happiness. This does not mean being any less committed to the relationship. On the other hand, it will result in a relationship that is more lasting and stable. We can make the most of the good things in life, giving all that we have, but we should never forget that happiness is from within.

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