being attached…

December 14, 2007

So everyone knows I’m single. It’s actually quite the topic of conversation in most of my areas of influence…especially at Immanuel where I teach and at Wesley Chapel where I work as the music director. Boy if I had a toonie for every time someone tried to set me up with their daughter or granddaughter…

But while I’m single, I would say that it is also true that I’m attached. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m finding that I have friendships which are so close that they have been providing me with physical closeness, emotional stability and a general sense of knowing that while my culture (church culture) views singleness as being a deficiency of sorts, I am not really all that alone…

Let me give you an example. My friends Jeff and Lori – who are married and just had their first child – are very close friends to me. They know the inner workings of my life like few people do…and I know who they are as real people. This is a very healthy attachment.

But what happens when single people get too attached to people they are not dating? What happens when we become too close for comfort…so to speak? Well, any number of things can happen I suppose. People can take just about anything too far. But the thing that I’m most interested in is emotional attachment. This is simply because I find that this is the area of my life which is profoundly susceptible to over-attachment. I’m not sure if it is because I am an artist but I am an emotional being. It could be somewhat genetic…my mom is very emotional too…as are my sisters. My dad – – a little less but still a softy.

So what is over-attachment? Is it different for someone who is married? Is there such thing as healthy extreme-attachment (I’m thinking here about people who stay single their whole life and have constant friends with whom they are extremely close)?

I want this to be a multi-post project, so let me just say that I think that an unhealthy attachment is anything which is not mutual and mostly equal. So, for example, if someone has a friend with whom they are close and one begins to invest more in the friendship than the other, it will, eventually become unhealthy. That has nothing to say about the quality of the friendship…both could have been seeking a very legitimate and mutually honouring friendship, but it has become unbalanced.

I would like to start having discussion about what emotionally healthy friendships look like. I admit that I over-invest in friendships at times – – maybe because I value them so much – – and as a result end up being hurt by people I love (and who I expect probably love me). I need to learn how to express my deep commitment to friendship without always putting myself out there to get hurt. Any ideas?

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2 Responses to “being attached…”

  1. dj tanner said

    eeek
    that hit home to me j
    especially for me in this season of life
    ive been thinking about it too lately
    i think youre right on the the point that an unequal friendship can be unhealthy
    but i think it just can be and isnt necissarily
    because i think there are seasons in every relatiosnhip where one person invests more than the other…
    i dont think thats bad for a season
    i think thats just love stepping up when that other person cant return it in the same way
    i think its unhealthy if that season becomes an everyday reality
    and i havent been able to figure out a way to tell which is which
    so
    yeah
    ok merry christmas
    d

  2. Sharolyn said

    Just for the record , I just read this post today, Jan. 7th, so couldn’t respond sooner.

    The topic of friendship is a huge one and so many things come to mind in response to what you’ve written but I don’t want to write a lengthy epistle so here are a few thoughts!

    I agree with you that friendships are crucial, especially for single adults (since I am one), but even married individuals need friendships outside of their marriage.

    I think that “unhealthy attachment” isn’t limited to relationships that are not equally mutual and that “over-attachment” can happen between any two friends, whether the individuals be single or married. Many affairs begin with inappropriate emotional relationships before progressing on to the physical. Defining emotional boundaries is very difficult and I think varies from situation to situation which I know isn’t at all a helpful thing to say.

    I have to say that people within the church are wrong to view singleness as a deficiency although I know that some do, or at least they act as if they do although they may not realize it. I don’t believe that this is in accord with scripture.

    Okay, I have to stop for now because this is getting too long for just a comment. :-/

    Sharolyn

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