Attachment is something we’ve known about for as long as we could remember. Whether it be the attachment—or fear of it, rather—that we have with our mothers, friends, or significant others, it is all around us.
A word I would say that pertains to attachment would be love.
Now let’s face it, love has to be one of the most abstract, subjective words around. For me it translates into something unconditional. It weathers the storm of adversity and cultivates a connection so intense, all would fail to sever it.
Growing up, the idea of love wasn’t forced down my throat. Living through a divorce probably made the idea of romantic love scarce in my household. Although unique in its own characteristics, my family was and still perfect throughout all these years.
The point was that the significance of romantic love wasn’t taught to me but rather a product of my innate individualism.
As it is with many Americans, we date for our preferences. The essence of the American Dream and the choices that entail, permeate through even our dating lives.
In Italy, the culture is a bit different.
I got a chance to grab coffee at The Perfect Bun with my good friend, Sarah. She’s been living in Rome all her life despite traveling and experiencing different parts of the world.
According to her, she is a woman that is on the social peripherals
- She lives on her own which is unheard of in Italian culture (women traditionally live at home until marriage)
- She dates for love first and foremost
- She isn’t afraid to stand her ground and leave a promiscuous relationship
In the States, Sarah would no different than an average individual, male or female, with views like these. It was shocking to hear the difference in our cultures from a woman that was only a generation above me.
“Italian culture always teaches you (women) that you cannot handle to be alone all your life. You need someone that helps you, assists you. Also, women you know if you’re a woman you have to be with someone. If you’re like 35 years old and don’t have a man with you, that means you have some problems… They feel the pressure. That’s why they always get married with people they don’t really love”
Sarah has explicitly said that her friends don’t understand her logic when it comes to love. If she didn’t think they were a 100% in love with her the same way she was for them, she would leave.
She doesn’t need a husband to complete her livelihood. She needs something genuine and true. This is completely countercultural and a beautiful example at that.
“If you find a nice man that cares about you, you don’t look for something more. You think that’s enough. You just get satisfied with this. You don’t look for the one. I’m still looking for the one, but that’s why I’m still alone.”
Sarah creates a dynamic of loneliness that separates being alone and feeling alone. The strength she finds within herself allow her to be comfortable in her own skin.
If an individual was struggling between feeling alone and being socially accepted, following society would have been an easy way out. Staying true to your own beliefs adds a completely different solution to the equation.
“They can say it with words… its unacceptable… in practicality, everyone is going to accept it. It’s about comfort. You say, ‘it’s okay he’s flirting with someone else’ and just get along with your life and that’s it… the Italian culture is not to commit that much… as soon as you have problems you let it go. You have a job and that’s the job… Of course there are exceptions. The common people don’t work that hard for relationships.”
In Italy, commitment isn’t actually devoting yourself to one person. It’s having a really lenient version of commitment. It’s committing to the social boundaries but, not to the individual.
She makes the distinction between those that say any form of cheating is unacceptable and those that will actually walk away from a cheating relationship.
The altered perspective of integrity is not only showed in the commitment aspect of a relationship, but also in the weakness of keeping to one’s own commitment to walk away.
Integrity has to be a crucial part of a devoted relationship.
This includes an intrinsic integrity that allows you to keep your own commitments and develop your own voice. A relationship, platonic or romantic, should be about investing into someone you see is worth it.
Not someone that society sees is worth it for you.
“The solution is to work less, and find more time for relationships. You have to remember the important values in life… Friendships, families, respect, the people you want around you.”
Italians take the idea of a family tree even further. The connection an Italian has with their family is so rooted in the stems of their being, that it leaves that the individual with a profound sense of family connection that extends well past their immediate family (parents, siblings, and so forth).
There has been a prevalent idea among all the Italians I have talked to this past month. Regardless of age, sex, creed, or whatever else, they have always agreed that keeping in close touch with their families was important.
With this comes a lack of time for building relationships. The weekdays were devoted to working while the weekends were for family. Working less means not to cut back on necessary hours.
But, to cut back means indulging in work for an excessive duration, only to distract you from the important relationships in your life.
Sarah emphasized that this lack of time devoted to relationships resulted in a lack of communication.
“It’s about people that don’t even know each other anymore. They change and they don’t know the other one isn’t even satisfied. They don’t even know it because they don’t talk to each other. I think that’s the problem.”
I’m increasingly growing attached to learning more about the interesting and inspiring individuals I meet every day.
I can only hope Sarah and I, have given you a little insight on how becoming attached to the idea of enriching the relationships around you can give you an acute awareness of the relationships that either need some time and dedication and others that may need to be let go.
Without a clear understanding of the importance of communication, one may find themselves feeling unsatisfied with the quality of relationships—family, lover, or friends.