Thanks for the links, nycindie, they were interesting!
The first time I came across the concept of non-attached love it just felt right to me. Before, I wasn't too far off, but somehow there are these cultural norms of what you're supposed to feel at which situation. I think they come from some actual responses of some people, but it doesn't work similarly for everybody. I saw in that moment that the hurt I was afraid would happen if I let myself feel love was actually a disproportionate picture. That is, there was no reason why I would feel so much pain in, say, not getting to be in a romantic relationship with somebody I love. Rather, I've just learned that the pain is what happens by watching movies and reading depictions of it. But I felt that in actuality I can allow myself to feel everything that comes and still not be any more attached to an outcome than I would be otherwise. I can love somebody and not be with them. I can appreciate a person for everything they are, and their precense in my life, and not need them to be there forever.
I feel that with new people I am starting from a clean slate. With my husband Alec I've formed some slightly co-dependent patterns over the years but have been untangling them with determination particularly during the last year. I would say that we are quite independent now, and I love that. I have, btw, merely concentrated on myself and my own behaviours in this process; yet as I change, Alec adapts, and our relationship dynamic changes.
There is still work in the details. Things like this: "We let our partner have their anger and pain and hurt without trying to rescue them so that we don't feel uncomfortable." (From the Love and Attachment article.) I see that I still sometimes (not that often anymore) let Alec's feelings become my feelings. It was such an automatic process that at first it felt weird, sort of cold, to only react to his pain with caring and sympathising and not by having the same pain. But that is healthy, and it is as I want it in a relationship. It is also a way that allows me to truly support, because I don't take his pain; otherwise I would be in equal need of support.
I like how it was put in the same article: "Without being so self-important, we can humbly focus on ourselves instead of making our partner the object of our constant attention and criticism. Instead of trying to find or mold the perfect partner we can become the perfect partner." I think that can be misunderstood if the concept is unclear. As I understand it, it does not mean that one should take any crap from their partner and keep on endlessly trying to change themselves. The meaning is actually pretty much the opposite. In a co-dependent relationship there are unhealthy dynamics at work, and when the two people are enmeshed into each other it is very hard to do anything about the (potential) issues that stem from those dynamics. But once a person focuses on themself and works on becoming independent and making boundaries, i.e. separating their own self from their partner, the dynamics will, firstly, start changing simply due to that and, secondly, it will become clearer where the issues are coming from. This is how the advice is the complete opposite of "take any crap your partner may wish to dish at you". Only once a person becomes more independent, and has worked on their part in the unhealthy dynamics, it is possible to see what crap is produced together and what is produced by the (previously blamed) partner. And only once independent enough it is not too hard to say "I will not take this" even if saying that may mean a break-up.
In long-term relationships with Alec and Mya
. Seeing Lily. Metamours with Hank.