The reliably unpredictable esr implies in a post about his old cat that the essence of relationships is the attachment:
Of course, the cost of having a pet who’s such a paragon is that it will be more wrenching to lose her. A Buddhist would say that you can avoid grief only by not being attached, but how do can do that when the meaning of a relationship is all about the attachment? None of the complexities and distances of a bond with another human save us here; Sugar’s willingness to love and be loved is so simple, so unstinting, that it would feel evil to try to put protective emotional distance between ourselves and her, even though we know her death is otherwise likely to leave a painful hole in our lives.
(Emphasis mine). If you don’t attach yourself, then you have no relationship. It pains me a little to hear something like this, and i’ve heard versions of it often, because i try hard not to attach. I do think that attachments create sorrow. I do live by the idea that expectations create all sorrow, and i do put a lot of energy into avoiding both myself from having expectations and other people from expecting anything of me.
And even then i still believe i have relationships, though i am painfully aware many people don’t understand my idea of a relationship and many more do actually think it is coward or cruel of me to have such an attitude.
Since you can’t touch precisely what is the meaning i give to “have no expectations”, your interpretation of it might lead you to suffering, and thus it is a little cruel to say it aloud, but it did help me to grow, and it led me away from suffering.
The path it led me to, maybe this is a path of solitude, you can say so, i am alone right now, and i have recently turned down many a relationship, again and again i have taken a “Be Mine” as a “So you want to own me”, i resent people wanting to “love” me in such a way that it is very clear that if i go away they will suffer, and i hate that they say “My love is not a prison” but i still can see their expectations, and i hate that i can tell them about expectations and they will still reply love is easy and that there are no obligations. In a way, i believe i hate that they think that not suffering means being distant, that they think if i will not suffer if they leave that it just means i never loved them at all.
I can tell you that it moved me deeply to see the other person, that hearing their breath, that laying by their side in bed, that it was a spiritual experience. It was deep and it was intense and it was meaningful. Those moments will forever be with me, they will forever be reflected in the way i respond to the world, they are imprinted in my own being. If they leave, if it is their path to be away from me, that is all right. If they grow it is all right. And if they suffer it will make me suffer too.
But no, i am not addicted to your presence. I can live without you. I can. I will. And i will grow even if you are away. Why should you expect any different?
Emotional distance is a way to defend against emotional blackmail. The other person is trying to make it clear that if you leave, or if you don’t give her attention, that she will suffer and that it is to blame on you that she is suffering. Emotional distance is a way to certify yourself that if he suffers you’ll not give in to the blackmail, that you’ll not come back to the same mistake, that you refuse to be his hostage. That might be an adequate response, but if emotional distance is an adequate response to emotional blackmail it does not follow that emotional blackmail is the only form of caring for someone, that loving someone is the same as being addicted to someone. Co-dependence is the name for the kind of relationship where everyone is on the verge of suffering and the collective fear keeps everything as it is, keeps the relationships shallow and makes everyone to be always trying to extort just a little more respect from their peers.
But for me, to love is something that needs freedom, i can’t really believe you do care about who i am if i know you would suffer without me around, if you suffer without me around you just care about your own well-being.
As for esr’s cat, he says that thinking that each day the cat goes on still alive is a gift, a pearl stolen from the crown of life, that thinking like that makes it easier to face her death. I don’t know why one couldn’t say the same of every thing else, of every day you wake up to a sunny day and of every day you wake up to tornadoes and lightning. Every second is a blessing. And that is what his buddhists call “having no attachments”.
The thing is, those buddhist guys just solved a class of problems (everyone dies) instead of focusing on the problem at hand (Sugar will soon die).