12 Signs You Are Emotionally Detached From Your Relationship And How You Can Fix It

Updated January 19, 2023by ReGain Editorial Team

Signs of Emotionally Detachment And What You Can Do To Fix It

What Is Emotional Detachment?

Emotional detachment, or emotional blunting, can be defined as the inability to form an emotional connection to others or to experience emotions. It can develop as a means of coping with anxiety by avoiding certain situations that trigger difficult emotions that a person cannot deal with psychologically.  Sometimes emotional detachment and emotional blunting is a symptom of an attachment disorder, such as reactive attachment disorder, which is a mental health condition caused by extreme neglect or abuse in childhood. Although it’s not classified or defined as mental health disorder, emotional detachment may result from other mental health disorders stemming from some form of emotional abuse.

Although emotional detachment might sound like a negative quality, it is not always something negatively affecting a person’s life. When people can detach themselves emotionally from stressful situations or circumstances, they can often react calmly and logically with a measured emotional response. Learning how to emotionally detach can actually be a positive coping mechanism, especially when other people’s emotions are extreme. Emotional detachment can allow a person to look at the bigger picture, maintain boundaries, and take space to manage intense emotions. These are often great traits, especially in certain professions where being too emotionally attached can be detrimental, such as being a doctor, psychologist, police officer, or first responder.

However, when you are in a relationship or a marriage, emotional detachment and emotional blunting may not be a positive thing and may be a sign that something is off either with yourself or with your relationship. Experiencing emotional detachment and emotional distance may keep you from maintaining personal relationships in a healthy way, and it can hurt the other person’s feelings. An inability to feel emotional involvement can also affect friendships and relationships with extended family.

People often develop emotional detachment and emotional numbing due to painful life events or traumatic experiences, and it can be a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  It can also come about due to less traumatic but unpleasant experiences. For example, let’s say a person was cheated on by a boyfriend or husband. The hurt and grief from the past relationship may lead the person to be emotionally unavailable or unwilling to commit in the same way in subsequent relationships. Unconsciously, the person resists getting too close and forming new emotional connections out of fear of being hurt again.

Signs Of Emotional Detachment:

Emotionally Focused Therapy Can Help You With Your Relationship Struggles

Generally, a partner is the person someone would confide everything in: details about their day, work, problems with family or friends, etc. If you find yourself not emotionally invested and not wanting to do anything with an intimate partner, it could be a symptom of emotional detachment.

When someone is feeling disconnected from partner, they may have little no interest in their partner’s feelings and lack the self-awareness needed to recognize this.  A person with emotional detachment feels psychologically detached from the people around them, and the emotions of other people don’t seem to make an impact. In addition, a person with this condition may have little interest in the intimacy of a sex life. What is emotional detachment and what are the signs?

Signs Of Emotional Detachment

  • Emotional detachment has a variety of signs, depending on the cause. Common symptoms include:
  • Emotionally detaching in stressful and everyday situations
  • Inability to be emotionally vulnerable
  • Difficulty empathizing with others
  • Difficulty staying in the present moment, tendency to preoccupation around other people. This is seen mostly in emotionally unavailable men
  • Failure to prioritize other people’s needs in appropriate situations
  • Difficulty maintaining friendships and relationships
  • In addition, emotional detachment can reduce a person’s ability to have normal disagreements and fights with a partner. Occasional minor fights are a normal and healthy part of most relationships, but if one person has extreme difficulty expressing emotions, healthy disagreement can become impossible.
  • Causes Of Emotional Detachment
  • The latest evidence based research indicates there are several reasons for emotional detachment.  These include:
  • Childhood abuse or neglect by primary caregivers
  • Interpersonal abuse as an adult
  • Prolonged exposure to distressing news or work situations
  • Trauma
  • Medication side effects
  • Personality disorder
  • Attachment disorders
  • Cultural expectations

The emotional blunting characteristic of detachment can be a symptom of a physical or mental disorders or a side effect of certain medications, such as those used to treat major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. Emotional blunting may also result from a mental health condition that can be effectively treated. For instance, emotional blunting can be a result of personality disorders, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder from events like childhood abuse or interpersonal trauma, or other mental illnesses, as peer reviewed studies have shown.

If you or a loved one is experiencing or has experienced relationship abuse or domestic violence, help is readily available. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is free and and offers support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You can also text “START” to 88788 or use the live chat option on the website at TheHotline.org. The Hotline provides essential tools and support to help survivors of domestic violence so they can live their lives free of abuse.

Treatment Options For Emotional Detachment

Since emotional detachment is not a mental health diagnosis but a symptom of various other physical health and mental conditions, successful treatment depends on the underlying cause. If you or someone you love appears to psychologically detach from emotions, the first step is to see a healthcare professional and discuss the problem openly with them. Board certified physicians and similar wellness professionals are a good place to start the process. When you understand the underlying problem causing emotional detachment, you can then move forward with an appropriate treatment option.

If you are an individual who has emotional distance in relationships or you experience emotional blunting, there may be a chance you have some issues from your past or your personal life to work through. You can try working through it yourself by going over the events of your life and analyzing everything that’s happened to you, or you can find a therapist for talk therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often used to help people who can’t feel emotions due to traumatic life events. If the underlying cause of the detaching is due to a medication, your doctor might be able to make changes in your prescription to help with the problem.

If emotional detachment is one of the coping mechanisms you have developed due to poor background attachment in childhood, stressful working conditions, or as part of your cultural background, individual counseling sessions with the right therapist can help you build self-awareness and explore the cause, giving you a better understanding of yourself and helping you reconnect with normal emotions.

As you work on yourself, therapy can also benefit your marriage or relationship with friends and family. You may want to consider couple’s therapy if emotional detachment is affecting your marriage or relationship; especially if you notice your husband, or boyfriend being distant most of the time and it's already starting to get out of hand. In some cases, emotional detachment happens gradually over time, and a person may not even realize how distanced they have become from their partner. Sometimes life takes over, and it does not mean you care or love your partner any less.

Emotionally Focused Therapy Can Help You With Your Relationship Struggles

In those situations, it’s important to come to that realization and take a pause from everything else going on in life to work on the emotional connections in your marriage or relationship. In case you found out that your wife or husband emotionally disconnected in a relationship, we can help you. Online couples counseling at Regain can be an invaluable service because it puts the focus on the relationship and both people’s feelings in a safe and supportive environment. In addition, therapy sessions are provide through video chat, phone, or text messaging, so it’s highly convenient and . Couples therapy sessions can help both people express how the emotional detachment has affected them and find new, healthy ways of feeling and expressing emotions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How can you tell if someone is emotionally detached?

  2. What can cause emotional detachment?

  3. How do you fix emotional detachment?

  4. Why can’t I emotionally connect with anyone?

  5. How do I know if I feel emotionally unstable?

  6. Why do I shut down emotionally?

  7. What is a person with no feelings called?

  8. What is emotional detachment in a relationship?

  9. How do you talk to someone who is emotionally detached?

  10. What is emotional dissociation?

  11. How do you communicate with someone who is emotionally detached?

  12. Can an emotionally detached person change?

  13. Can you control emotional detachment?

  14. Can you love someone and be emotionally detached?

  15. How do you help someone who is emotionally distant?

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