How Do You Know When You’re Emotionally Attached To Someone? | Discover The Signs of Emotional Attachment

By: Tanisha Herrin

Updated December 31, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC

An emotionally attached person may feel connected to another person based on their personal feelings or emotions for them. A person may feel attached to another after their relationship has ended. Some may have an emotional connection with another person without being in a relationship, but not realize they are falling for someone deeply. Sometimes these emotions may lead to sadness or rejection when one realizes the other doesn't feel the same way. For some, it translates to a "need" they want from others to feel satisfied or happy, and if the feeling isn't mutual or returned, they feel down or unwanted.

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What is the Importance of Emotional Attachment?

Understanding aspects of being emotionally attached to someone is important because it influences how a relationship exists in many cases. It may lead to or be accompanied by physical attraction, which makes things more exciting and meaningful in romantic relationships. Sometimes a person becomes attached to another because they are attracted to a person's mind or spiritual being. You can have a meaningful friendship with someone and value their words, thoughts, and feelings on a variety of things in everyday life.

If you are considering someone to be your soul mate or partner in a relationship, some forms of emotional attachment are good for developing a bond, connection, or attraction among each other. An emotional attachment could be unhealthy when a person depends on their relationship while feeling insecure, anxious, or fearful of losing their partner. Creating a deep emotional bond is essential, but in some cases, it may cause emotional despair before realizing it is a problem. Identifying factors of being emotionally attached may help with understanding how your emotions affect your livelihood and relations with others and may help you to look after your mental health.

What Are The 8 Things to Notice When Emotionally Attached To Someone?

Having feelings for someone is a good start when building your relationship. Many people want to have someone they can share their feelings with, and there is nothing wrong with that, except having too much of a good thing could become problematic and unhealthy. But if these feelings have you thinking about a person too much, leading to an obsession about them, it may signal you've become emotionally attached to the person you can't stop thinking or talking about. Here are signs you may be too attached to someone else.

  1. You're always sending text messages. It is great to have excellent communication between each other as with any friendship or relationship, but it is a problem when messages are continuously sent, and you expect a response quickly like you need their attention right now. Even if they are doing a priority task such as being at work, you need their attention. If you don't get it, you feel anxious, lonely, and worrisome. Also, your priorities take a back seat, and things you should be getting done are not because you're consumed in texting the person and waiting for a response.

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  1. You don't disagree with the person often. Maybe you're not sharing your opinion on things and agree with them to avoid a disagreement. You may not feel comfortable getting the person on board with your interests, but you'll do what they want even if you don't want to. For example, you may watch something on television you don't have the interest to watch only because they want to watch it, instead of mentioning what you would prefer. People think they will be liked more if they agree to the opinions or ideas of others instead of just being themselves. You may think you're showing thoughtfulness, but it may also lead to being underappreciated.
  2. You put their needs before your own. You're making sacrifices without getting anything in return. The relationship becomes imbalanced, and you may be doing things that were never asked of you in the first place. Your actions may be viewed as though you're just trying to please them. Things should involve compromising and decision making from both sides instead of just one. It could lead to resentment or regret when trying to do things just to fit in.
  3. You spend less time with family and friends. It is vital to keep relationships with your family and friends intact. Friends may complain they don't see you as often and you may be texting and emailing them more while physically seeing them less. Spending time with them shows you value them. Plus, you need time independently away from your partner as part of a healthy relationship, which will allow you to build bonds between each other and others that are close to you. 
  4. You don't have personal interests or hobbies you like to do. You do activities your partner does to make them happy or please them, even if you've never done them before. Consistently doing what the other person likes doesn't help you to learn about yourself. Such actions lead to missing out on your own interests because you spend all your time on someone else’s interests. It is not a healthy way to sustain a friendship or relationship because you'll be unhappy and miserable most of the time.

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  1. You feel incomplete without them and want them with you. You've lost a sense of independence and don't want to do things yourself. It is a common action among people who are codependent on another person, especially if anxiety or stress sets in at the thought of you doing something alone. It is natural to want to do things with another but feeling overwhelmed at doing something that you could do on your own may be problematic. It's like you've lost your identity. Doing things you like ensures you stay who you are, and who you are is what got the attention of the other in the first place.
  2. You continuously stalk their social media pages. You want to know who they are communicating with and when. You scan through their photos, people who left comments on their timeline, etc. We all check out each other's pages but doing it so often where you're trying to analyze others that communicate with them isn't healthy. It may lead to anxiety or jealousy because you saw they liked someone else's photo.
  3. You need reassurance often that you're cared for or loved. Seeking reassurance may be through asking them constantly how they feel about you. You may ask if they love you, then ask if they are sure, and ask the same question worded differently often. The reassurance may also be in the form of constant affection such as holding hands, hugs or kisses. There is a sense that something is about to happen that will end relations or things will come crashing down. It is hard to believe someone values you. It is a sign of insecurity within yourself and the need to understand your self-worth.

Getting attached to another emotionally signals you need to learn more about yourself and how to value who you are. Work on establishing a balance in the relationship. It is okay to stand up for yourself and put yourself first. Taking time to learn and love yourself is essential and necessary to cope with your feelings productively.

Tips on Managing Your Emotions

Many think it is difficult to overcome these feelings, but it is possible to gain insight into why they have a substantial effect on you so you can do something about them. Whether you're emotionally attached to someone you had a relationship with or someone you can't have because they are with someone else, there are productive ways to cope with your emotions. Here are suggestions on how to overcome emotional attachment.

  • Realize it is normal to feel this way, and you're not the only one to experience them. Humans have an instinct when it comes to attraction. Work on acknowledging and recognizing when your eyes or thoughts wander. Keep your feelings in check, and they will fade as long as you don't give in to them. Remember, you have control of how your thoughts respond to feelings of attraction.

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  • Are your thoughts of a competitive nature? Sometimes attachment emotions are a result of desiring a partner belonging to a friend or someone you know. The feelings may not be for the person you want but more so through competition (feeling as if you are better than the person they are with). Sometimes these feelings can ruin friendships when acting on the urge from your emotions, or making your feelings known to the person. Determine how to work through these feelings without hurting your friendship or their relationship.
  • A person who is with someone else may not be as attractive as you think. There are different levels of attraction that affect us, but when someone is unavailable because they are with someone else, the level of appeal may change. The person you are attached to may be attached to someone else. Think about why you would feel connected to someone when they are attached to someone else?
  • Practice meditation. Learn how to create a peaceful and calm place within yourself. It is a great way to relax and reduce anxieties related to your emotions. Deep breathing exercises and yoga are also helpful when dealing with attachment.
  • Get physically productive. Instead of being idle with your emotions, get busy doing what you like to do. Socialize with friends, get into a hobby, or help out family members. Consider activities you've wanted to do but put off. Sometimes feelings of attachment will throw your attention off or make you forget things.
  • Adopt new ways of thinking by reframing your thoughts. Try to move forward when feeling negative or let down by replacing your thoughts with positive and productive ones.
  • Talk about your feelings. It is common for people to keep such feelings to themselves but getting them out is a step in the right direction toward managing them. You'll realize how they affect your life, help you wake up and accept the reality so you can move forward with your life. Talk to someone you trust, such as a good friend. Seek counseling options such as couples therapy or online counseling, or consider self-help groups to improve coping skills and tackle self-defeating behaviors.

Recognizing Unhealthy Attachment To Emotions

It’s important to know when feelings of attachment become unhealthy. They disrupt your way of living with stress and anxiety for different reasons. They are feelings we keep holding on to because of embarrassment or anger but find it hard to let them go because a part of us refuses to do so. It is difficult to see things as they are and become blind to what is real. We must realize where we are emotionally isn't what we want. We all want to be loved, but if it comes along being in this emotional state, it won't feel stable and you won't be content. It gets challenging to shift focus on yourself and realize you need healing. Recognizing your emotions could be taking you on a dangerous path will make it easier to let feelings go.

In some cases, attachments can lead to domestic violence, because if a person feels there is a threat to the emotional connection, feelings can boil over and cross the line into violence. This happens particularly if unhealthy emotional attachment has led to anxiety.

It may be that your friends or family saw your attachment become unhealthy. The people close to us often notice our behavior change before we notice it ourselves - or before we are ready to admit it, or perhaps they’re wondering why you’re not spending as much time with them as you used to. They may have noticed that your mental health is not good, or you always say no to invitations to socialize. 

Perhaps you’ve noticed this yourself - you might feel different in how you behave, or you may have mental and physical symptoms related to your unhealthy emotional attachment. You could feel stressed or anxious all the time. Personality disorders and eating disorders could have arisen as a result of unhealthy attachment.

Perhaps you feel like you’re watching your emotional attachment become unhealthy, but you don’t know what to do. There are ways to work on releasing attached emotions. Acknowledge negative and hurtful feelings and focus on actions that promote good well-being. As you work on managing your feelings, you'll see how much more comfortable it gets to let go. 

Your mental health is important. Be kind and patient with yourself and stay focused on moving forward. Consider online counseling - talking about your feelings and your emotional attachment will help.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What does it mean to be emotionally attached?

  • Is emotional attachment love?

No. Although there is emotional attachment when two people are in love, having an emotional connection is not the same as being in love. It may be that the emotional attachment is only there for one person, and the other person might not even realize it. Or it could be that two people are emotionally attached to each other but are not in love - they have a strong bond and feel connected to each other on an emotional level, but they are not in a relationship.

  • What’s the difference between being attached and in love?

Attachment is controlling. It’s a strong emotional bond but you don’t necessarily want what’s best for the person you’re attached to. When you’re in love you should feel free and happy, but when you’re emotionally attached to someone, you are likely to feel scared of the bond being broken.

Attachment is selfish. Though you may be seen to be trying to make the other person happy, by giving their interests higher priority than yours, for example, your reasons for doing it are selfish - you are doing it because you are worried that the relationship or attachment will end or break if you put your own needs first. When you’re in love, you want to make that person happy because you want the best for them, not for yourself.

Attachment is possessive. You always want to be in contact with the person you’ve got an emotional connection with, because that makes you feel safe. Emotional attachment is hard when you’re not physically with the person, because you get anxious that you could lose them. Love is hard, but it’s more free. If you’re in love, you don’t worry all the time you’re apart from your partner, because you trust each other and feel secure in the relationship.

  • Do I love him or am I just attached?

Attachment can often be mistaken for love. Make sure that you check your reasons for doing things. Do you feel secure in your relationship, or do you constantly worry that something could break the bond between you? 

If you find it hard to know whether you’re emotionally attached to someone or in love with them, try talking to your friends and family, and ask them if they’ve noticed a difference in you, and if they think you’re happy. Ask yourself if you feel truly happy, or if you’re anxious, worried, or down a lot of the time. Are you enjoying time on your own? Are you doing the things you like to do? Are you and your partner growing together? 

If you love someone, you want the best for them and you want them to grow. You want to spend time with them but you also give each other space and you feel safe in the relationship. 

If you’re emotionally attached to someone, you want to be in contact with them and like to spend time with them, but you might not want what’s best for them, and you’re likely to worry about the bond between you being broken by doing something wrong. You might avoid having arguments, and forget your own interests, in case that attachment gets broken.

  • Can you love without attachment?

Yes. Love without attachment is compassion. It’s caring for someone and being concerned about them. It’s loving them but without being in a relationship with them. 

But in romantic relationships, emotional attachment is bound to happen. As people spend time together, an emotional bond forms and people become attached to each other. When people are in love, this can be a very healthy attachment.

True love exists without the need to tie each other down.

  • How do you know if a guy is emotionally attached?

If a guy wants to spend a lot of his free time with a certain person, or is contacting them a lot, it’s likely he’s emotionally attached. He might want that person to meet his friends and family, and he’ll stick up for that person, and ask them for advice. Often, men are more likely to hide their true feelings, so it may be difficult to know when they’re emotionally attached. But if you look out for these signs, you’ll know. 

Another sign of a guy being emotionally attached to a girl is that he starts to open up and talk about his feelings with her - he’s letting her in, because he has a connection with her; an emotional attachment. 

Emotional attachment will manifest itself in the smallest details. This person will be excited to see you. He might smile more when you are around. He might look for opportunities to flirt with you and invite you around. He listens to the things you say, and recognizes the things you like. He makes efforts, big and small, to make you happy, because when you are happy, so is he.

  • What makes a guy emotionally attached to a girl?

When a guy feels confident, and as though he is needed and appreciated by a girl, he may become emotionally attached to her. Emotional attachment may also occur if a guy feels like he can talk about his feelings openly with a girl, if he feels accepted, and if she gets on easily with his friends.

If you spend a lot of time with a guy, and you invest time and attention into your relationship with him, you will start to understand him emotionally. You will notice what makes him upset, what causes him stress, and what makes him happy. You will especially pick up on these triggers if you listen closely and pay very close attention to this person. Once you have invested this time, you can understand and control his emotions. Of course, then he will crave being around you, because you can be a source of peace and joy for him.

Another important method is to ensure that you do not pressure him to open up, but when he does, you accept him. You let him open up, and you listen without judgement. Then, naturally, when he wants to vent, feels excited, or upset about something, you will be the first person he wants to get in touch with because he knows he can trust you.

Building an emotional attachment takes time, so more than anything, try to be patient. If you try to push someone to emotionally attach before they are ready, it will make him or her feel uncomfortable. Be patient but be open. Attachment will grow when naturally when you are both ready to be vulnerable around one another.

Therapy Is Personal
Therapy is a personal experience, and not everyone will go into it seeking the same things. But, keeping these nine things in mind can ensure that you will get the most out of online therapy, regardless of what your specific goals are.

If you’re still wondering if therapy is right for you, and how much therapy costs, please contact us at contact@regain.us. ReGain specializes in online therapy to help address all types of mental health concerns. If you’re interested in individual therapy, please reach out to contact@regain.us. For more information about BetterHelp as a company, please find us on 
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