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emotional attachment
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Anon_26998 posted:
I'm currently engaged to a man I've been with for almost 2 years (in a long distance relationship).

There were some things that I was aware about when we first met, but I dismissed them (I had just come out of hurtful breakup). My fiance is a wonderful man. He is hardworking, loyal, trustworthy and has a great sense of humor. The thing that is lacking is the emotional bond. How important is the emotional bond? Is it enough that he is willing to support you, love you and work hard for you?

The problem lies when I'm feeling sad/angry/frustrated and I am unable to feel that emotional bond with him. Which makes me more sad/angry/frustrated. The thing is, I spoke to him about it before, and he doesn't know what he can do to change things. I don't know either. I do know that it can be a big problem...just how big, I would like to ask you.

Have you been in a relationship with someone where your head tells you she/he is good, but then there's just something missing? What do you do? How did the relationship turn out? Would you have done anything differently?

During the times that I bring this issue up, my partner attributes it to the distance between us right now. But the thing is, that emotional bond wasn't really that significant even when we were together physically. He makes me laugh. He supports me in my goals. But then sometimes, I feel I don't know him. I don't know him all that well because we don't share that strong emotional bond... Recently, things have been quite stressful. Maybe because of the work load on the both of us, maybe because of the distance, but this lack of emotional bonding is getting harder and harder to push aside.

Please share your thoughts.
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darlyn05 responded:
If I was experiencing this I would know that I do not love him and I'm not in love with him. Especially with what you wrote in your last paragraph:

"But the thing is, that emotional bond wasn't really that significant even when we were together physically. He makes me laugh. He supports me in my goals. But then sometimes, I feel I don't know him. I don't know him all that well because we don't share that strong emotional bond..."

And this:

"Have you been in a relationship with someone where your head tells you she/he is good, but then there's just something missing?"
 
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tmlmtlrl responded:
The important question is - how important is an emotional bond to you? It sounds like it is quite important to you. It is also very important to me. It is not the kind of thing you set aside and hope will get better. If it's not there it's not there.

I would strongly urge you to not marry this man. You have to understand that it is okay to love him and not be with him. It's okay to know he is incredible in every way except that way and not marry him.

One thing people fail to realize is that each relationship we are in teaches us what it is that we want in a significant other. It teaches us what we want, don't want, what we can accept and not, etc. Being with this man has gotten you a lot closer to exactly what you want in a husband/long term relationship. Also it's taught you what you truly need and that's an emotional bond.

It's not a bad thing that you had this relationship. It's not a bad thing that you realized now that it's not going to work. What would be bad would be to spend the next 5-10 years trying to make something work that you knew now wasn't going to. Let him go. Let him find the right fit for him and you find the right man for you.

And remember that you obviously do love the guy and that's why you said yes. That means it will be tough and you will have to mourn this relationship. But trust me, you want to do it now.

You're never going to force something that should naturally be there.
 
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3point14 responded:
I'm not a romantic person at all, really. So I feel like I should get that outta the way before I start.

I don't see a difference between an emotional attachment and love. How can you love someone and not feel a spark between you? How can you appreciate that person on all levels if there is a fundamental distance between you?

That being said, I think someone loyal, supportive, caring, kind and funny is someone I could see being appealing in a lifemate. It's my belief that love (emotional attachment?) is a bonus in a relationship, but not worth basing a whole relationship on. I think if you can be satisfied with what you two have as a relationship, function well together, enjoy and respect each other, well, that's not such a bad deal.

I've been in relationships where we were not in love, but still liked each other very much, got along and had similar goals. We were together the better part of a year, and broke up because he moved. We found that being apart killed our relationship because the functionality and comfort was really wrecked by us not having a life together, so we had nothing to hold us together, no common goals or anything.

Don't get married unless you're reasonably sure this is someone you can see yourself with forever. Can you?
 
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stephs_3_kidz responded:
I think you've gotten some great advice in this. I think that an emotional bond is crucial in a marriage. In fact, I'd equate the emotional bond/intimacy as the love that sets apart your relationship from a friendship.

It really is ok to love/care about someone without feeling ready to spend the rest of your life with them.

On the other hand, do you think your emotional bond *would* strengthen if you were together more, in person? I can imagine that is why I would have difficulty maintaining a LDR.

My husband and I have been married 15 years and there are some days when I feel out of sorts and he'll do something and I feel like, who IS this guy and what did he do with my husband? But I think we all have those days. Do you think the LDR is affecting you more than you thought it was?

I was away from my husband for one night, on Friday, and it was nearly more than I could stand. I was very anxious to get back home and just be near him! I felt strange, almost detached, until I saw him again....Is that what you're experiencing?
 
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD responded:
As I read your post and the comments, I keep coming back to the question of what you mean by "an emotional bond." Do you mean that you don't feel at all connected to him, or that you don't have that infatuation feeling? If it's the latter, you need to consider that infatuation generally fades in relationships as the deeper, quieter feelings of love grow (not that people don't feel sparks of it here and there through the years).

Also, you said that you sometimes feel like you don't know him. I'm wondering what this is about. Do you feel that he is really holding back so that there are important aspects of him that you don't understand? If so, that is worthy of discussions, which can be helped by you being specific with him about when you feel this.

Finally, is difficulty committing or really connecting over the long haul (not just for short periods of time) a theme for you in your life? If so, you might want to think about whether fears about him possibly rejecting or leaving you are behind your hesitations. Many people struggle with this fear, leaving them to feel that they can almost never be close enough to their partner to consistently reassure them that they won't get hurt. This issue takes some work on strengthening your sense of security and safety in yourself and within relationships.


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