emotional detachment

What is emotional detachment? How to stop it from affecting your relationship

While the exact cause of emotional detachment is not yet known, many different reasons can cause a person to feel this way.

Picture this. You had a rough day at work. You reach home and try to talk to your partner about that, hoping to be comforted. But to your surprise, when you share your feelings with them, they seem disinterested, and sometimes downright dismissive. You are not even sure that they are listening to you. Odd as it seems, you wonder what caused such a cold reaction. If such behaviour drags on for weeks or months, it may be a sign that your partner has become emotionally detached.

An emotionally detached person purposely seeks to avoid a situation or people that make them uncomfortable. According to Healthline, “emotional detachment is the inability or unwillingness to connect with other people on an emotional level.” Dealing with such individuals daily can be an uphill task, and if appropriate steps to address the problem are not taken on time, it can negatively impact relationships. Partners may end up feeling lonely and isolated from each other.

While the exact cause of emotional detachment is not yet known, many different reasons can cause a person to feel this way. It can be both voluntary and involuntary. For some, becoming emotionally numb is a choice as it helps them deal with stressful situations effectively. Since their emotions are not involved, they react in a calm and composed manner, which helps them avoid feelings of stress and anxiety. For others, emotional detachment may happen as a result of a traumatic experience, such as betrayal or the loss of a loved one. Such incidents can reshape a person’s expectations from others, making them emotionally detached to protect themselves from such painful situations.

If being emotionally detached is causing problems in your relationship, there are things that you can do about it. Let’s take a look.

Identify the triggers

Try to identify the situations that make you feel emotionally detached. You need to find out what’s causing you to react the way you do. Try to recognise the thoughts that come up in your mind when you are faced with a situation that could turn emotional. For example, when your partner expresses their feelings, do you pay attention or ignore them? If it’s the latter, try to recognise the triggers that make you walk away from the conversation or try to change the topic.

Get in touch with your feelings

An emotionally detached person is not in sync with their feelings or that of the others around them. It usually makes the other partner feel that they are the only one putting in all the effort to keep their love alive in their relationship. To prevent this, you need to let your guard down and get in touch with your feelings, even if they intimidate you. One way to do that is by developing the habit of journaling. Note down all your thoughts in your journal, no matter how troubling they are. This will help you gain acceptance of your feelings.

Establish ground rules for communication

You must establish a few ground rules before you start talking to your partner about your feelings or listening to theirs. The idea is to ensure that both of you know what is acceptable and what isn’t in a relationship. The conditions must be acceptable to both. This will allow you to have a more meaningful conversation with your partner where you can freely express your true emotions in a safe space.

Stop being hard on yourself

If you are an emotionally detached person, opening up to others can be difficult, which can affect your relationship with your partner. It is important to be patient during that period and not resort to self-criticism. If you only focus on the negative aspects, it will make matters worse. So, focus on the positive things in your life and your relationship. Use positive affirmations to boost your self-belief. Use phrases such as ‘I am worthy’ and ‘I am capable of doing amazing things’ to boost your confidence. Once you restore it, you’ll be able to accept your emotions, thus making you more open to your partner.

Talk to a counsellor

If you feel cut off from your emotions and find it hard to connect with your partner, talking to a counsellor can be helpful. They can help you reconnect with your feelings and suggest ways to improve your communication. You can also try couples counselling if you have a tough time dealing with your emotionally detached partner. Sometimes, detachments are part of a larger problem such as depression or personality disorder or past trauma. Counsellors can help you come face to face with the reasons you are distancing yourself from your partner.


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