Feel yourself shutting down and shutting out? You might be dealing with emotional detachment.
We deal with challenges every day, but when they start to stack up, it becomes harder and harder to balance it all. Though we look to our partners for love and support, we can find ourselves pulling away from them when things get tough — both voluntarily and involuntarily. This emotional detachment causes a number of problems and has to be addressed, rather than avoided (lest we want to deal with major heartache).
Have you started pulling away from your partner? Don’t let yourself disappear into the free fall. Get back in touch with your feelings and embrace them for what they are. Find the confidence to communicate and stand up for those parts of yourself which are most authentic and pure. Even if the divide feels a mile wide, you can find your way back to connection and joy again. You have to commit to the journey, though, and fess up to the fear that is holding you back.
Emotions are a heavy burden to bear.
Try though we do to make everything in our lives perfect, obstacles and adversity seem to always be waiting around the corner for us. Living life means dealing with stress, pressure, responsibilities, people and emotions that are complex, fast-moving, and ever-changing. It’s hard keeping track of it all, and it’s even easier to get overwhelmed. Being emotionally present through hardship isn’t always easy, especially if you’re already dealing with a history of pain.
Are you pulling away from the person that you love most? Has your relationship hit a breaking point that you don’t quite know how to process? It’s hard to stay emotionally present when you’re facing the complicated pressures of modern day living. Factors like abuse, a history of trauma, and even our changing feelings shake us, shock us, and scare us in ways that make it hard to be open and honest.
Open and honest we must be, though, in order to safeguard our happiness and our wellbeing in this life (and in our romantic partnerships). Stop giving in, rolling over, pulling back, or running away. It’s time to face up to the uncomfortable truths you’re facing and take action in the name of yourself and your relationship. The longer you choose a path of inaction, the worse the damage. Stop running from your emotional detachment. Face facts, admit the truth, and embrace a better and more understanding way forward.
Signs of emotional detachment.
Don’t allow emotional detachment to ruin your life and your relationship. Find a way to heal and move forward by increasing your understanding and looking out for these signs.
Perhaps the biggest warning sign of emotional detachment is the state of your current relationships. Look around, how do thing stand with your partner? With your friends and family? Our emotions are key to forming relationships that are full of connection, trust and fun. When we detach from these emotions, we can find our relationships suffering and becoming fraught with conflict, misunderstanding, and hardships across the board.
Inability to open up
If you have a hard time expressing your emotions — both to others and yourself — it can also be a sign of emotional incongruence. Being open is crucial. This honestly helps us to better explore our strengths and make the most of our weaknesses. It also helps us to bond and connect with our partners, even while we realize our own path to happiness. Find that you struggle to admit when things aren’t right? This inability to open up can be a sign of emotional shutdown.
A total loss of joy
When we emotionally detach, we have to turn ourselves “off” a bit like a spigot. We don’t just crank down the things that feel bad, we crank down everything — good emotions included. It’s twisting the handle on your emotional cascade, which can bring with it a total loss of joy as well as a detachment from things like worry, guilt and shame. Struggling with a loss of love or passion in your life? Maybe you’ve detached from the feelings that gave you meaning.
Struggle to concentrate
Are you struggling to concentrate on life or your relationship in general? Do you find that you don’t prioritize your partner, and that you hardly prioritize yourself anymore? This struggle to make meaning of it all can be a sign that you’re facing some really big challenges in your own day-to-day life. Our brains come with a finite amount of focus. If it’s spread across stress, anxiety, and negative emotions, there’s very little left to give yourself or a relationship.
Unable to empathize
Empathy is an important component of a relationship. Different from sympathy, our empathy allows us to connect with others and feel their emotions and issues as if they were our own. It gives us perspective and the power to understand where we’re each coming from, which makes it easier to stay bonded through hardship. If you’re unable to empathize with your partner, it might be because you’ve detached from your emotions altogether.
Trouble with affection
Do you have trouble expressing or accepting affection? When was the last time you told your partner that you loved them, or showed it with a non-intimate display of physical affection? Struggling with affection (giving or taking) in your relationships can indicate a major divide that neither partner is addressing. When we’re open with our partners — when we have nothing to hide or avoid — it’s easier to get close and show how much we really want to be with them.
Why do we emotionally detach from our partners?
Emotional incongruence is a pattern that we learn and execute on both subconscious and conscious levels. When the pressures of life get too great, or we find ourselves dealing with romantic realities, we’d rather
Consequence of abuse
Victims of abuse develop emotional reflexes that often cause them to shut down and shut off whenever life gets too complicated. This is because they were taught that emotions are unsafe, and that they only result in more fear and hardship. So, when things get sticky in their relationships, you’ll find them burying their heads in the sand in a desperate effort to protect themselves from abusers both real and imagined. You don’t have to hit someone to ruin their lives. You just have to teach them to fear themselves and everyone around them.
Unable to overcome
Life doesn’t get easier on an individual level just because we’re in a relationship. When struggling with our own issues it’s possible to shut down emotionally in order to survive. This can also occur when the problems in our relationships compound to such a point that we know there’s no going back. Rather than confronting the hard talks and hard decisions we know we have to make, we pull our emotions out of the equation and put ourselves into zombie mode in order to carry on as we are. Likewise, you might pull away to avoid dumping negativity and hardship all over your partner.
Emotional detachment isn’t always an involuntary action. Sometimes, we are forced to make the conscious decision to detach in order to safeguard our relationships, or our place in them. This might happen when we’re facing troubles of our own, or it might happen when we find ourselves facing long-term relationships, conflicts that are both disruptive and destructive. In an effort to protect yourself and your mental wellbeing, you pull back or draw away from your partner.
Avoiding hard truths
Intimate relationships are often lauded as the most important thing you can obtain in most societies. We’re pressured to pair off, but that can often pressure us right into the wrong relationships and poorly matched partnerships. When you realize that they are no longer the right person for you (or you’ve realized that they were never the right person at all) — it can cause a break with reality that makes it hard for us to come to terms. So, we detach from the problem and the negative feelings in an effort to ignore it altogether.
Acting out of habit
Some of us don’t really do a lot of analyzing or thinking when it comes to our feelings — we just run. And that’s just what lands us in the misery of emotional detachment. This acting out of habit usually occurs as a result of the examples that were set in childhood and our early relationships. When it’s the only coping pattern we’ve ever known, it becomes our go-to in every hard situation that we face…including those in our intimate relationships.
The best ways to deal with emotional detachment.
You don’t have to fight and struggle in silence forever. If you’re detaching from your partner, you can find the light and get the answers that you need, but it’s only going to come off of the back of a lot of hard personal work and commitment. You’ve got to dig deep. What do you want your life to look like? Only you have the power to decide.
1. Reclaim your congruence
Congruence occurs when we are able to align our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies in ways that allow us to attain fulfillment. We tend to think that this congruence happens magically when we get everything right, or play by whatever rules we think we’re beholden to. This isn’t the truth, though. Congruence doesn’t come with ease, and it never did. It takes intentional and conscious commitment to becoming a better person.
You have to claim this congruence for yourself and you have to do it now. Start small, by reclaiming your emotions and their role in your life. When you feel an emotion — let it in. Give it a time limit and let it come tell you what it needs to tell you. Then, when time’s up…let it go.
Institute this practice in every uncomfortable aspect of your life. Mend those bridges between who you are, who you were, and who you want to be. Let your mind follow your heart and vice versa, but also allow your spirit to have its say. Really allow yourself to listen to those fundamental truths and pursue practices which allow you to engage your body, mind, and spirit all at once. The more open we make ourselves to our own emotional realities, the more open and whole we become.
2. Find your truth self
There are few other guides on this road of life that are more effective than your true self. Your true self is the essence of everything that you are. It contains your hopes, dreams, plans, values, integrity, and ambitions. It guides us toward our meaning and the experiences (and people) in this life with bring us fulfillment and love. We have to stay tapped into this true self if we want to find the path and the person we were meant to be with.
Spend some time focusing on your true self and those authentic aspects of skill and personality that make you unique and joyful. Stop running from the things you know you truly want. If your relationship has changed — admit it. If you’re ready to move on — admit it.
Discovering the true self is about admitting the truth to ourselves. Embrace what you truly want from this life. Look at the future. Who do you want to be 10, 20, or 30 years from now? You’re the only person that can build that life; that can be that person. You’re going to have to reconnect with your authentic self, however, to find the power and the courage to keep moving forward. Run from your feelings forever and you’ll find the quality of your life rapidly decreasing.
3. Speak with a professional
That frank fact of the matter is that — sometimes — our emotions run a little too deep for us to deal with. This might be because of childhood trauma; it might be because of recent heartache or loss. Whatever the reason, if you feel as though you cannot cope when it comes to facing your emotions, then you should seek the help of a professional. They can provide inside and knowledge that gets us started on the right path, the right way.
After you’ve spent some time pinpointing your problems (or what you want to work on) approach a mental health or relationships expert that specializes in your needs. There are an array of experts out there, some of them available digitally and right from the comfort of your smartphone whenever you need them.
There is no shame and no taboo in talking to someone who knows what they’re doing when it comes to emotions. Compare it to your physical health. If you fell and broke your arm and were in extreme pain — would you go to a doctor? Our emotional pain and distress are no different. In fact, it can linger indefinitely, unlike our bodies, which mend and heal. Nurse your wounds the right way and take care of your emotional body as well as you would care for your physical one.
4. Question your emotions
How often do you question your emotions before reacting to them? Or stuffing them away in a box, never to be heard from again? If you’re someone who is emotionally detached, then the odds are you don’t question them very much. Our emotions are crucial. They are our early warning systems that indicate when something in our environment doesn’t align with our safety, values, and needs. In order to heed those warnings, though, we have to question our emotions and seek to know the information they are sharing.
The next time you feel sad, mad, irritated, anxious or hopeless — get into a pattern of questioning that emotion. The minute the emotion rears its head, take a step back. Ask yourself: Why am I reacting this way? Is this emotion based in the present moment? Or has a new situation reminded me of a past pain?
Dig deeper and deeper into the way you feel. Adopt the attitude of a toddler who has just discovered the question, “Why?” Explore each level of your emotion. Once you get one answer, question that answer. Don’t stop until you know the truth of what you’re feeling, why, and how you want to communicate it. The more frequent this habit becomes, the more comfortable we become with our emotions. We also uncover deeply buried truths which can help us redefine healing in our adult lives.
5. Create safer relationships
Creating safer relationships is one of the best ways in which we can resolve the pain of our emotional detachment. The important people in our lives provide a sense of perspective, and they can help us see our problems and our challenges in a more optimistic light. You have to let them in, however. You have to let in your partner, your friends, your family. Anyone who sees you. Anyone who knows you. Anyone who wants the best for you.
Find a way to open up to your partner and discuss the way you’re feeling. Let them know what emotions are troubling you, and any ways you believe they could help to improve the environment (and therefore your situation). If your partner isn’t a safe person to confide in, focus on building up support networks that you can lean into.
Think of it like letting in light. The more openings you create, the more light will flood the darkness, revealing options and opportunities you could never see before. Safe relationships can be that light in moments of hardship and darkness. Make your partnership a sanctuary (for all parties involved) and make it a safe place to share and discover one another. When you’re comfortable in company, you’re comfortable in mind. Focus on building safer relationships and you’ll always have a home to run back to.
Putting it all together…
When we emotionally detach in our relationships, it causes some serious problems that make it impossible for us to stay focused and committed. This commitment, though, is precisely what we need. By facing up to our truths and admitting when we’re running away, we can overcome our emotional incongruence and find a better way to reconnect with our relationships.
You have to reclaim your congruence, and it you have to do it with commitment, candor and courage. Stop tiptoeing around the things you want from your life and yourself. Embrace the fullness of your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical bodies. Find your true north by getting back in touch with that authentic self that resides in the core of everything that you are. The more you fall in love with yourself, the less fear you will have around your emotions. Open up to a professional if you’re struggling to make those first connections and don’t be afraid to open up too to your partner and your support networks. Question your emotions and dig a littler deeper each day to better understand what you want from your future and your relationship. Make your partnership a sanctuary. Seek those things which make you brave and know that your emotions aren’t there to harm you. They’re there to help you.