Attachment vs Love: What’s the Difference?

There’s no denying that human beings need to connect with others. Our ability to form connections is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. However, not all connections are created equal. There is a big difference between attachment and love.


Attachment is a term used to describe the bond we form with other people, particularly our parents or caregivers, during our childhood years. This bond is essential for our survival and provides us with a sense of security and safety. Attachment theory was first introduced by psychologist John Bowlby, who believed that our attachment style was formed based on our experiences with our caregivers in childhood.

When we have a healthy attachment style, we feel secure in our relationships and are comfortable relying on others for support. We don’t shy away from close relationships, and we are generally very social. However, when we have an unhealthy attachment style, we tend to avoid close relationships, don’t trust others easily, and can have difficulty forming strong emotional connections with others.


Love is that feeling of deep affection that we have towards someone. Unlike attachment, it is not something that is learned or developed over time. Love is an emotion that we feel spontaneously and intuitively. It is an intense feeling that can be overwhelming at times, but it is also something that brings us joy and happiness.

Love is not just about romantic relationships. We can love our family members, friends, and even pets. It is a feeling of connection and belongingness, which can bring us deeper happiness and satisfaction in life.

Main differences between attachment and love

Although attachment and love may seem similar, there are some key differences:

1. Attachment is learned, while love is felt.

We learn attachment through our early experiences with our caregivers. Our attachment style can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on the quality of care we receive. Love, on the other hand, cannot be taught in the same way. It is a spontaneous emotion that arises naturally, without our conscious effort.

2. Attachment is based on familiarity, while love is based on admiration.

When we are attached to someone, we feel comfortable and safe in their presence. We are more likely to choose people we are familiar with as our attachment figures. Love, on the other hand, is based on admiration for someone’s qualities, character, and inner beauty. It is not necessarily tied to familiarity or the length of time we have known someone.

3. Attachment is about need, while love is about choice.

We develop attachment because we need to feel safe and secure. It is not necessarily a choice we make. Love, on the other hand, is a choice. We choose to love someone because we admire them, enjoy their company, and want to share our life with them.

The importance of a healthy attachment style

Although attachment and love are different, they are related. Our attachment style can affect the way we love and the types of relationships we have. People with a healthy attachment style tend to form stable, long-term relationships and feel comfortable relying on others for emotional support. On the other hand, people with an unhealthy attachment style may have difficulty forming and maintaining relationships, and may struggle with feelings of insecurity and anxiety.

Having a healthy attachment style is important, but it is also something that can be developed. Therapy can help people identify and work through any attachment issues they may have, which can lead to more fulfilling relationships and a happier life.

In conclusion

Attachment and love are different, but they are both essential components of human relationships. Attachment provides us with a sense of safety and security, while love brings us joy and fulfillment. Understanding the differences between attachment and love can help us form healthier relationships and lead happier, more fulfilling lives.


FAQ 1: What is the difference between attachment and love?

Attachment refers to the emotional bond or connection one has with another person, while love encompasses a broader and deeper emotional connection that involves feelings of warmth, care, and affection. Attachment can be characterized by a sense of security, dependency, and possessiveness, while love is more about compassion, respect, and commitment. In short, attachment is a necessary but not sufficient condition for love.

FAQ 2: How do attachment and love influence relationships?

Attachment and love play crucial roles in shaping the dynamics of relationships. Attachment can create a sense of stability and comfort, but it can also lead to negative patterns like jealousy, possessiveness, and fear of abandonment. Love, on the other hand, fosters intimacy, trust, and mutual support, which can enhance relationship satisfaction and resilience. A healthy balance between attachment and love is essential for maintaining fulfilling and lasting relationships.

FAQ 3: Can attachment and love change over time?

Yes, attachment and love are not static and can evolve over time. Attachment patterns may shift due to different life experiences or relationship changes, such as parenthood, illness, or separation. Similarly, love can deepen or weaken depending on how partners communicate, handle conflicts, and nurture their emotional connection. Seeking professional help, such as counseling, can help individuals and couples navigate attachment and love issues and achieve a more fulfilling and satisfying relationship.


1. Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of personality and social psychology, 52(3), 511-524. Retrieved from

2. Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2016). Attachment in adulthood: Structure, dynamics, and change. Guilford Publications. Retrieved from

3. Acevedo, B. P., Aron, A., Fisher, H. E., & Brown, L. L. (2011). Neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 7(2), 145-159. Retrieved from