Committed Freedom: How Mindful Non Attachment Can Increase Intimacy
I used to think I had intimacy and commitment issues because once I was divorced, I had no real desire to ever get married again. I wondered if it was some lingering pain or some fear of being hurt or some misguided attempt at keeping myself safe.
For the longest time, I felt like my lack of desire to not get legally married was an indication of something being wrong with me. Although I have a Pinterest board titled “Someday my prince will come”, I’ve found that I use the items I pin there more for business branding and home décor. It became pretty clear over time that for me, marriage is not my end game.
And so I began to explore and stumbled across the idea of non attachment. Once I began to study the idea of non-attachment, I realized that my take it or leave it view of marriage is not a problem at all. It’s because I believe in the beauty of committed freedom.
What I’ve seen in my life is that people get married with a fantasy in mind. They believe in the happily ever after idea and they believe that once they are married, things will be great.
There are levies of expectations attached to marriage and when those expectations aren’t met, there is disappointment and disillusionment. People are often more hurt by their unmet expectations than they are by any reality. They are disillusioned by their fantasy not being met and their attachment TO the fantasy. I began practicing what I call Committed Freedom.
Committed Freedom is a way of practicing commitment while holding freedom as an integral value and part of the relationship.
It is being committed to your partner, as they are, where they are, and offering them the space to be free at the same time. This means allowing them to choose you, or not choose you, and to be okay with whatever choice they make.
This view is an extension of mindfulness and the practice of non-attachment. Non-attachment doesn’t mean one doesn’t care; it means that one is capable of loving without the need to merge with another person or wanting to consume the other party.
Most marriage ideals are about merging — two becoming one, shared social media profiles and becoming “we” instead of me. Committed freedom is about committing and remaining individual people with the third party of the relationship.
Committed Freedom is about not having to give up yourself in order to be attached to another.
Dr. Gabor Mate says, “People have two needs, attachment and authenticity. When authenticity threatens attachment, attachment trumps authenticity”. This suggests that attachment and authenticity are an either/or proposition and for many, it can be. I’ve witnessed people become completely different in order to preserve a valued relationship and while it’s sad to witness, I understand why it happens. However, I am encouraging a yes/and perspective to relating where authenticity is as treasured as attachment that is built on the premise that YES, attachment is important AND authenticity is as well. Neither should take priority of the other.
Committed Freedom is about respecting your own autonomy and the autonomy of your partner enough that you don’t need to be legally bound to them to feel secure in the commitment. It’s about trusting each other enough to let love and commitment be a moment-by-moment, day by day choice that each person makes instead of being bound by duty.
Strangely, since I have begun practicing non-attachment in my relationships, they have been more meaningful, intimate, and honest. There is no game playing, jockeying for position or attempts to control the other. There is only the beauty of the present moment and because there are little to no expectations on how the other will behave, there is little disappointment.
In my view, non-attachment is the highest road to intimacy. Although that may seem paradoxical, it is about the ability to hold the tension between two seemingly opposite concepts. It is learning how to be comfortable without the “guarantees” and “promises” made in traditional marriages/relationships and to live in the mystery.
It is giving yourself and another the right to be fully free and trust that in that freedom, their commitment is because they value you and want to be there, rather than feel as though they are bound to you out of obligation.