Are you feeling disinterested in your partner and have no desire to spend time with them? Do you feel as if you have lost love and respect for your partner? Are you experiencing disinterest in working on the relationship?
If answers to these questions are in the affirmative, then you may be suffering from emotional detachment.
This article helps you understand what it means to have this problem and takes you through emotional detachment symptoms, and triggers. You will find here tips on how to overcome the affliction.
What is emotional detachment?
Emotional detachment means the reluctance or inability to bond with people on an emotional level. In the general sense, this is a coping mechanism to protect oneself from anxiety and stress by avoiding triggers such as unwanted drama and other similar distressing situations.
Though it comes with a negative connotation, emotional detachment is not always a bad trait. When used with intention and purpose, it can help you deal with people who demand too much emotional attention and are too emotionally draining.
By emotionally detaching oneself, you can save yourself from emotionally charged situations and deal with problems calmly and rationally. Emotional detachment helps in maintaining boundaries and offers a third-party view of the situation.
However, emotional detachment in a marriage or relationship is not so desirable. It is a sign that something is not right either with you, your partner, or the relationship.
Signs of emotional detachment in a relationship
When you are emotionally disconnected, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms.
- Have a hard time sharing emotions and feelings with your partner
- Lack of interest and attention to your partner
- Inability to be loving and affectionate
- Avoid spending time alone with your partner
- Unable to understand the viewpoints and feelings of the partner
- Reduced levels of intimacy and sex life
- Loss of respect and consideration for your partner
- No longer interested in arguments and fights
- Difficulty in committing to a relationship or maintaining it
- Disinterest in discussing the future of the relationship
How to recognize emotional detachment in marriage?
Emotional detachment can happen voluntarily or may be the result of abuse, trauma, or some similar negative event in the past. When you feel as if you are baited into confrontational situations, you may use it voluntarily as a protective measure to avoid them.
Though emotional detachment is not a medically recognized condition, it is part of various personality disorders like attachment disorder and Asperger’s syndrome.
Your continued disinterest in the relationship can raise red flags. You may become aware of your own unavailability for emotional attachment or your partner may become conscious of the sudden change in your behavior.
A healthcare professional would be able to assess your situation by talking to you and your family. Your behavior and reactions can help them recognize a pattern suggesting emotional issues.
Ways to overcome emotional detachment
The first step in treating emotional detachment issues is by identifying the trigger. Whether it is voluntary or involuntary has a big say in how it can be dealt with. If the issue is a result of some undesirable events in the past, you can overcome them by yourself, or by talking to your partner or a counselor.
When emotional detachment is an offshoot of some medical condition like borderline personality disorder, PTSD, or depression, undergoing treatments for these conditions with medicines and therapy can be useful.
At times, even if you voluntarily chose to be emotionally detached in a relationship, you may find it hard to reverse it on your own. You may try working on the condition yourself and if not successful, may approach a medical professional.
Here are some tips to overcome emotional detachment on your own.
1. Believe in yourself
Once you recognize the problem and show a willingness to treat it, the next step would be to believe in yourself. That is the starting point for a positive mindset and living a happy and content life.
Begin by asking yourself why you don’t trust yourself anymore. Make a list of the negative thoughts, find the triggers, and get to the root of the issue. Deal with each one of the triggers in the best way possible. Positive affirmations are immensely helpful in raising your confidence levels and shifting your mindset.
2. Seek gratification
Emotional detachment is about the inability to feel emotions. The best antidote for this is to find ways for self-fulfillment. You may have problems with your boyfriend/girlfriend and may want to keep your distance. But self-indulgence is something that never fails to bring positivity and cheer to your life. That is a starting point for further change.
You may indulge yourself in any of the myriad ways open to you. Pursuing hobbies, especially creative pursuits, are considered the best of them all. You may continue to pursue your old hobbies or find new ones.
As you become more open to feeling emotions, try emotional engagement with one person. This need not be your partner. As you open up more and more, try to connect with your husband/wife.
3. Deliberately feel emotions
Inability in feeling emotions is a major hurdle with emotional detachment. You can force yourself to experience emotions by writing down about them. Journaling is an excellent tool to achieve this.
Start by writing down one emotion you experienced every day. You may not have fully felt it but may have been aware of it. Writing down your encounter with the emotion or the incident that triggered it can help you understand and come to terms with it. Write in a free-flowing way without judgment or filtering out anything. This is the best therapy to help you feel emotions once again.
4. Practice body mindfulness
It is typical for those suffering from emotional detachment to feel disconnected or alienated from their body as well. You will get the impression that you are watching yourself from the outside. Body mindfulness can help you overcome the detachment from your body.
This is an exercise similar to regular mindfulness practice. Instead of focusing on your senses and feelings, here you are concentrating on body parts from head to toe. Sit with your eyes closed in a meditating position. Focus on your breathing and calm yourself. Beginning at the crown of your head, move down gradually, drawing your attention to each body part and feeling the sensations. There is no better way to feel alive than this.
5. Force yourself to take risks
Taking risks means exposing yourself and being vulnerable. This is one of the hardest things for a person suffering from emotional detachment. Take the plunge when you feel you are ready for it.
Start small and move on to more difficult situations. Try to open up and express your emotions in whichever way you feel comfortable. The more you do this exercise and gently compel yourself to open up more and more, you will reach a stage where you have no hesitation in expressing your emotions.
A point to note here is that this exercise can backfire if not done in the right way. Patience and understanding are keys to succeeding in this step.
6. Stay away from mind-altering substances
As most of us know, alcohol and drugs can have devastating consequences on the mental makeup of a person, even a normal and healthy one. When you are already suffering from emotional detachment, the effects of these substances are overwhelming.
Even though it may seem like they are helping you to deal with some of the issues that led to your current state, such as calming you down and helping you to sleep, their side effects are too significant to ignore. Moreover, there are other methods you can adopt to help you with these things without harmful effects.
Once you stop using them, your mind will be clearer and more focused to deal with the problem.
7. Seek help
In milder forms, you may be able to overcome the problem of emotional detachment on your own. If it is not working out even after a month or so, or if you feel that things are getting worse, don’t hesitate to seek help. Therapy, counseling, and medicines can do wonders in this situation.
All relationships come with their own ups and downs. The success of your relationship depends on how early you identify these hurdles, how you deal with them, and what lessons you take away from the incident.
If you can relate to and identify any of the signs of emotional detachment listed above, don’t despair. It is still a positive sign that you can recognize the problem and accept its existence. It is a good sign and the first positive step towards fixing it.