I received an interesting question from a reader, and thought I'd share my answer here.
How does one enter into and maintain a relationship without forming attachments? It's just one of the concepts of Buddhism that just don't seem to fit for me personally, either because I consider attachments to be very important for me, or it could just be that I misunderstand that particular concept. What are your thoughts?
This is the answer I wrote back to her.
I think there are a few ways to look at attachment when it comes to Buddhism. Part of the challenge is that many of the teachers and teachings that were brought to the U.S. were from monastic-based Buddhist practice, where renunciation and celibacy are centralized. Which causes some trouble for most of us who are living "regular" lives "in the world."
The Buddha, though, actually taught different teachings and practices geared towards monastics, and others toward lay folks. And since the Buddha's time, plenty of additional teachings and even entire schools of Buddhism have been focused on supporting lay folks.
When it comes to relationships, the way I understand it is that loving yhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifour partner, or children, or parents, etc. is intimately tied to letting go of your stories about who that person is or isn't, and learning how to be completely with them everyday as they are. I also believe it's learning how to loosen up the grip you might have around any expectations - about your partner, yourself, and the relationship itself.
Now, that doesn't mean that anything goes, but more that you do your best to drop off any behaviors or thought patterns that are overly needy or controlling, and learn to do or say what you need to without attachment to specific results.
In addition to this, I wrote a post in May about sexual desire that takes up attachment from a different angle.
If anyone has any additional thoughts, or if you have a completely different view, feel free to leave a comment.