Emotional detachment in a relationship can be extremely painful to deal with. It often happens over the course of a romantic relationship and leaves people feeling isolated and confused.
Emotional detachment is not exclusive to romantic relationships, it can happen within friendships and families. The common theme between the breakdown of all these relationships is the lack of communication that leads to detachment.
If you feel like your partner, friend or family member maybe becoming emotionally detached there are ways you can combat this. The list below includes the most common signs of emotional detachment and how to deal with it.
1. They spend more time alone.
When someone is emotionally detaching themselves, they have a tendency to withdraw and spend more time alone. Whilst this can be painful, it’s important to not overreact to the situation. Demanding that someone spends time with you will not help. Instead, give them some space.
Then, in a calm environment ask them if they are feeling like spending more time alone, and if so why. Direct this in a non-confrontational way and listen patiently. It’s likely that they will feign ignorance to the situation or insist it’s not an issue. It’s important to stand your ground here and make it clear this is an issue for you, whilst stressing that you want to resolve it.
2. They don’t tell you where they are going or where they have been.
In addition to spending more time alone, emotionally detached people may be more furtive about their whereabouts. If this is unusual behaviour within your relationship then it is good to address it early on. Again, approaching this in a calm manner will be key to working through the issue. It’s good to have a comparison point to hand to show that the relationship has changed.
For example, at the start of your relationship, you were probably more open with each other. Remind them how you used to let each other know where you were going and how you would check in with each other on a regular basis. Present these memories in a positive way, as if you’re remembering happy memories. Then try and work out how you can get back to the place where you communicated better.
3. They are less interested in your problems.
Emotionally detached people tend to display selfish patterns of behaviour. They may become more introverted and less concerned with problems or issues that you are dealing with. In order to nurture the relationship, you must remain interested in their issues. Ask questions and show interest in a way that you would hope that they would.
If their distant behaviour continues, try asking them directly for help with a problem. Let them know that you really value their opinion and that the help would be much appreciated. If they still don’t offer any empathy, then call them out on their behaviour and let them know it’s hurting you. Remind them that for the relationship to work, you need to support each other.
4. They don’t want to make long-term plans.
Someone who is emotionally detached is unlikely to make long-term plans. It’s a sign that they don’t want to commit to the relationship. However, be cautious when interpreting this behaviour as there may be other forces at work. It may not be the relationship that they aren’t committed to but something else in their life, like a job or their house.
Perhaps they don’t want to make long-term plans because they wish to change their lifestyle. The only way to know the motivations behind their behaviour is to talk to them about it with them. Try and find the root the of their unsatisfaction and then explain how it’s impacting your relationship.
5. They feel cold and disconnected.
You can feel when someone is emotionally detaching themselves from you. It can be very painful, especially if you remain attached to them. It’s likely that once you notice this feeling, it’s hard to shake. Try not to take every little action to heart because the behaviour may be temporary. Relationships of all kinds ebb and flow and emotional detachment may not be permanent.
Be prepared to ride the wave out and express to the other person that you’re willing to wait for them. But, make it clear that their actions are hurting you or they may not understand the consequences of their behaviour.
Whilst the above advice can help combat emotional detachment within a relationship, it’s important to know when to fight for a relationship and when to let it go. If someone is not treating you with the respect, love, and attention that you deserve then it may be time to move on. This can be an upsetting process, but ultimately it can lead to greater happiness and more meaningful relationships.
Try and treat yourself the way you would a friend. If you would tell your friend it’s time to move, then think about taking that advice yourself.
Be kind to yourself, try practicing self-care and be patient.
By Ruth N.
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