You feel so lonely and disconnected and may be experiencing emotional detachment in your relationship.
Your heartfelt pleas for more intimacy and closeness fall on deaf ears. Sometimes it seems like your partner is looking right through you with cold, disinterested eyes.
What is happening here? Why is your partner pulling away? Why are you the only one trying to keep your love alive and your communication open?
Understanding what you’re dealing with can help you figure out what to do.
What Is Emotional Detachment?
When your partner begins to detach from you or has never really been close and connected, it is devastating. You wonder if you’ve done something wrong to push your partner away.
You might fear he or she has stopped loving you and wants to break up or divorce. You might even think your partner is having an affair or betraying you in some other way.
So what is emotional detachment?
Emotional Detachment can be a mental disorder where someone loses their emotional connection to the people and things around them. It is often triggered by a traumatic event.
An emotionally detached person may subconsciously muffle their emotions for self-protection, and this lack of emotion can show up in several ways.
A detached person will avoid situations or people that make them feel anxious or uncomfortable. This person may even physically separate himself when encountering an emotional situation.
Emotional detachment can also occur in an intimate relationship when one partner avoids emotional intimacy either intentionally or subconsciously in an attempt to maintain emotional control or foster separation.
A healthy intimate relationship requires an emotional investment from both partners. Both of you need to make the effort to strengthen your emotional bonds on a daily basis by . . .
- Engaging in physical affection.
- Having regular conversations.
- Listening attentively to one another.
- Sharing your hopes, dreams, and vulnerabilities.
- Initiating sexual intimacy regularly.
- Working through conflict constructively.
- Enjoying fun and relaxing experiences together.
- Having each other’s back during difficult times.
- Respecting each other’s boundaries.
- Working to meet each other’s emotional needs.
- Expressing your love verbally.
- Offering each other acts of kindness.
If you are experiencing fewer and fewer of these positive behaviors from your partner, he or she might be emotionally detaching from you.
What causes emotional detachment?
There are any number of reasons why this could be happening. Certainly, an affair or the desire to end the relationship could be the reason for emotional disconnect.
But it’s possible your partner is just emotionally unavailable and unable to connect with you on a deeper level.
You’ve been overlooking it for a long time, but it’s finally dawning on you that the behavior will never change. You may never have the closeness you desire with this person.
It’s also possible that your partner has pain from the past that is causing him or her to become “emotionally numb” in order to cope.
He or she may be dealing with trauma that causes anxiety or depression and has nothing left to offer you in the way of emotional intimacy and support.
Or maybe your partner is afraid of emotional intimacy, fearing he may lose himself if he opens up to you and reveals his inner world and deeper feelings.
Whatever the reason for the emotional detachment, you need to understand what’s happening and recognize any emotional detachment issues so you can figure out your next steps.
Here are 15 signs of emotional detachment in your relationship:
1. Your partner doesn’t share his or her problems or worries.
Maybe you were once the first person your partner came to when he or she was worried or upset. But no more.
When you know something is wrong and ask your partner about, he or she clams up. You aren’t invited into his or her inner world any longer.
It’s as though your partner doesn’t want to be vulnerable or authentic with you, making you feel more like polite strangers rather than lovers.
2. Your partner seems disinterested when you are talking.
You might be pouring out your heart to your partner or sharing something exciting that happened during your day, but your partner looks vaguely bored or even irritated.
Rather than an engaging conversation, it’s a one-sided affair in which you’re trying to share and build closeness, but your partner is having none of it.
3. Your partner isn’t moved by your strong emotions.
In your desperate effort to get your partner’s attention, you might get angry or intensely emotional. Your pain and feelings of rejection well up and spill over in tears and heartbreak.
But your partner isn’t moved by your emotions. He or she almost seems hardened to them, uncaring that you are suffering and in need of love and kindness.
4. Your partner seems apathetic during a conflict.
You want to work on your conflicts and disagreements so you can move past them and repair your bond. But your partner doesn’t seem interested in working things out.
He or she isn’t angry or frustrated — just indifferent. Your partner doesn’t care whether or not things are resolved.
Even when you try to goad him or her into an argument, all you get is an eye roll or an exasperated sigh as he or she walks out of the room.
5. Your partner withdraws and doesn’t want to spend time with you.
You so want so quality time with your partner where you can talk and enjoy each other’s company. But every time you suggest spending time together, your partner always has an excuse for being elsewhere.
If you walk into the room where your partner is sitting and try to engage with her, she gets up and goes to another room or pretends to be busy with a project.
6. Your partner seems disinterested in sex.
Your sex life with your partner has almost fizzled out entirely, and every time you bring up reigniting it, your partner gets irritated or passive.
If you try to initiate sex yourself, you’re rebuffed in some way.
Sometimes your partner tries to turn the tables and make it seem like you are the problem. You’re the reason he or she is no longer interested in sex.
7. Your partner doesn’t try to make you happy.
Your partner used to do things to make you happy, knowing what you like and how to make you feel loved. He’d bring you flowers or write you a poem. She’d give you a back rub or make your favorite dinner.
But all of that has come to a complete halt. Your partner makes little or no effort to do things that give you pleasure or show his or her tenderness and caring.
You feel like you’re just an annoying roommate who your partner is tolerating.
8. Your partner consistently puts his or her needs ahead of yours.
Not only does your partner neglect to do kind things for you, but he or she rarely puts your needs ahead of his or her own.
It doesn’t matter that you’re freezing — the thermostat is set to your partner’s preference. Who cares that you have a fever. Your partner is going out with friends and leaving you with the kids.
It seems your partner has stopped considering your feelings when making decisions or taking actions, and he or she isn’t worried about the impact that will have on your relationship.
9. Your partner has stopped saying, “I love you.”
Those three little words mean everything — especially when they disappear from your partner’s vocabulary.
If your partner once told you regularly that he loves you, but now doesn’t say those words, it’s a huge red flag he’s detaching from you.
Or if you say “I love you” to your partner, and she gives you a tight-lipped smile with no “I love you” in return, you need to pay attention. There’s something blocking your partner’s feelings or her ability to express them.
10. Your partner is rarely affectionate.
She used to reach for your hand when you’d walk together. He used to give you long hugs and cuddle you in bed.
But now your partner has stopped being affectionate. When you try to hug or kiss your partner, he or she quickly pulls away. It’s as though your physical touch makes your partner irritated or uncomfortable.
11. Your partner gives you the silent treatment.
Your partner seems perfectly comfortable sitting in silence with you — and not in that close and cozy way.
He or she gives you one-word responses or indifferent grunts to your attempts at discourse. There’s no effort to expand on your attempts at discussion, much less to strike up conversation proactively.
It feels like your partner is intentionally pulling away by refusing to communicate.
12. Your partner shuts down when you try to work on the relationship.
It’s clear that things aren’t going well between you and your partner, and you really want to work on improving your relationship.
But when you reach out and try to discuss working on the issues, your partner is having none of it.
He or she either pretends like everything is just fine or shuts you down by refusing to discuss the situation. Either way, you know that your partner is no longer engaged in strengthening your connection.
13. Your partner gets angry when you try to engage.
Rather than shutting down or making excuses when you try to engage, your partner tries to intimidate you by getting angry.
He or she uses anger as a buffer to prevent you from exploring the truth behind his or her behavior and attitude toward you.
Anger keeps you at arm’s distance, unable to break through the defenses to understand what’s really going on.
14. Your partner does things to sabotage your relationship.
Your partner may try to create further distance from you by picking a fight or doing something to make you angry or upset.
If you are angry, he or she doesn’t have to engage or attempt to connect with you because, “You’re the one with issues.”
Your partner uses the anger he or she provoked to build a wall between you and create a perfect excuse for detaching.
15. Your partner doesn’t want to talk about your future together.
Whenever you bring up future plans or dreams you have for the two of you, your partner’s eyes glaze over. You get an ambivalent response at best or even an outright refusal to discuss any future plans.
Your partner’s non-committal responses make you feel like he or she isn’t invested in your future together and no longer feels connected enough to you to even discuss mutual goals and plans.
If you are experiencing some of these signs of emotional detachment from your partner, you can feel desolate and confused, wondering why your partner is pulling away and what you can do about it.
You may find yourself redoubling your efforts to get your partner’s attention and win his or her affection and closeness again. But sometimes this backfires, making your partner detach further because he or she feels guilty, overwhelmed, or confused.
The best thing you can do is ask your partner to join you in couple’s counseling where you can safely express your concerns about your partner’s emotional detachment, and your partner can explore or reveal the reasons he or she is pulling away.
Being emotionally detached doesn’t always spell the end of a relationship. Sometimes a person emotionally detaches because of their own fears, anxieties, or other distracting emotions that prevent them from being fully available.
Even if detachment is a sign that your partner wants to end the relationship, it’s better to bring that to the surface and face it honestly rather than suffering with the daily painful cuts of emotional rejection.
You deserve a relationship that is close, intimate, and emotionally fulfilling. Don’t allow your partner’s detachment to go unaddressed and impact your own feelings of self-worth.
Acknowledge what is happening and take the steps to deal with it directly and honestly.
Did you find any value from this list of emotional detachment signs?
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