Are you in love with your partner, or do you just love the way they make you feel?
The need and want to be loved is one of the fundamental ones. Just as living without food or water, living without love for long enough has its proven damaging effects (Bowlby, 1969). This suggests that as we are willing to do cray things to stay alive, it would make sense that we would do crazy things for love.
Many of us have had thoughts like “I can’t imagine a life without X” or “I would rather die than lose Y” or “Z makes me so happy, I’m so lucky to have them”. These are all examples of attachment rather than love. You are feeling glee that all your needs have been soothed, and the thought of losing the soothing object (your partner) is a source of anxiety, because “what will I do without them?” live, girl; the same thing you did before them.
The way you experience attachment varies from person to person. You can find out what attachment style you are likely to have here. It is greatly dependant on the relationship you had with your parents as a child. You may see people with several partners as having “commitment issues”, as soon as someone gets too close to them, they burn bridges. You might hear those people being describes as having “daddy issues” which has gained negative connotations. In reality, they most likely have a fearful-avoidant attachment style, which causes them to experience anxiety when facing vulnerability with partners, occasionally leading to a string of short, surface level relationships.
(fun fact: different countries have different ratios of attachment styles because of the different prevalent parenting styles in those countries. For example, Germany has the most insecure avoidant toddlers, whereas Japan is on the opposite end of the scale with the most insecure resistant toddlers. Read more about this here.)
Love, on the other hand, is entirely selfless. There are different types of love, but I think all of us would like to be love unconditionally. For who we are and we can do no wrong. We can all imagine the perfect love of that a mother has for her children. The most perfect angels the world has ever seen, while they scream at the back of the bus. She will spend decades working tirelessly for them without any reward other than seeing her children be provided for. She doesn’t expect recognition because love is selfless.
Of course you are more than likely to be attached to the people you love and vice versa, but the issue is mistaking one for the other. The co-dependency and comfort a relationship can provide can be mistaken for love. In the long run, when circumstances shift, and you no longer are dependent on that person, you may also find your feelings for them also changing. You no longer feel that dread of losing them because you know you’ll be fine without them, so what is the reason to stay? Routine? Mortgage? The kids?
“in sickness and in health” is supposed to prevent exactly that. Weed out the folks who aren’t together through the power of love, but rather convenience. If your partner fell ill or lost their job, stopped being useful to you in one way or another, how long would it take you to start considering moving on to someone who can give you things you desire? Are they an emotional support animal – a million others alike on Tinder?