This post was updated on Apr 3, 2023
Emotional detachment is a symptom of deeper unresolved emotional and psychological issues. It goes beyond the inability to be present in the moment and the mindfulness that many self-help books and articles discuss.
Emotional detachment makes our lives difficult. It affects our relationships with people. And it can have a particularly damaging effect on our romantic relationships and marriage. The causes of marital problems are often difficult to pinpoint, and most people have a hard time accepting that the problem might be them. It’s easier to place the blame on the other person. However, even if the problem is you, it doesn’t mean it’s your fault. Some things we have no control over, and quite often, we’re not even aware of them.
If you frequently experience communication issues or can’t even identify what you’re feeling to be able to express it to your partner, it might be helpful to look into how to fix emotional detachment in a marriage. There are ways to get to the bottom of this pattern of behavior that’s keeping you from having a healthy and happy relationship with your partner. It will take time, patience, and hard work, like most everything that matters in life.
Can A Relationship Survive Emotional Detachment?
Emotional detachment might seem like an impossible obstacle to overcome. The fact that the detached partner doesn’t show emotions or interest or share their thoughts and needs can easily be construed as a lack of love. The sense of distance and disconnection can grow over time, making it seem like there’s no way to overcome it. After all, a solid emotional bond is what draws people to one another and keeps them together.
Whether or not your relationship can survive emotional detachment depends on various factors, but the most important one is whether you want it to. It’s possible to adapt to the particularities of an emotionally detached partner and work on self-improvement and resolve the issues that prevent you from having a fulfilling relationship. If both partners are willing to put in the effort to overcome the obstacles and build a relationship that meets their needs, this goal is achievable in most cases. However, it does require dedication and time.
What Causes Emotional Detachment In Relationships?
A variety of factors can cause emotional detachment in a romantic relationship. For example, one or both partners might have unresolved emotional issues that prevent them from having a harmonious relationship. Since emotional detachment is a defense mechanism, it’s essential to consider the factors and events that lead to the need to create such behavioral patterns. In other cases, emotional detachment can be a temporary state rather than a permanent trait.
Some people find it challenging to connect to others in general, including their closest friends and family, even their children and romantic partners. If you’re in a relationship that lacks intimacy and connection due to your or your partner’s emotional detachment, it’s essential to understand the underlying causes and possible reasons behind it. The most common factors that can cause emotional detachment in relationships include:
- Trauma. Experiencing abuse or neglect in early childhood can make forming emotional connections extremely challenging. Traumatic events in adulthood can have the same effect.
- Fear of intimacy. Being vulnerable opens people to being hurt, and the fear of such an outcome can make them avoid emotional intimacy to protect themselves.
- Lack of communication. Frequent verbal conflicts or complete communication breakdowns that go unresolved can make partners distance themselves from one another.
- Significant life changes. Emotionally intense events that cause a difference in your routine can lead to detachment. Some common examples are the birth of a child, career change, financial crisis, or relocation.
- Mental health issues. Conditions like depression, anxiety, or stress-related disorders can make someone withdraw emotionally from most people, including their partner.
- Incompatibility. In some cases, partners are emotionally incompatible, and the feeling of detachment reflects that.
How Do You Communicate With Someone Who Is Emotionally Detached?
If you’re in a relationship with an emotionally detached partner, you might feel like you’re making all the wrong moves. Try to remember that their behavior is frequently not a reaction to something you do or don’t do. They’re dealing with emotions that, in most cases, stem from events that happened long before you met, frequently in early childhood. There are also cases of people becoming emotionally detached as adults after particularly stressful life events that they haven’t been able to work through.
Whatever the case, the best way to deal with emotional detachment in relationships is if each partner does their best to identify and address their own issues while expressing love and supporting the other. This can require a lot of patience and self-control, and you’ll most likely need to constantly remind yourself that healthy relationships are built on trust, without placing blame or succumbing to overly defensive behavior patterns.
If you’re wondering how to fix emotional detachment in a marriage, you can help your partner by:
- Accepting that they deal with their emotions differently. People are different by nature, so their communication style and the way they show love and affection might differ significantly from yours.
- Not forcing them into intimacy and connection if they don’t feel ready. If your partner is detached due to trauma or other stressful events, this might scare them even further away from you and the present moment.
- Avoid blaming them for everything that’s wrong with your relationship. Criticism can make them feel vulnerable and trigger all the distressing emotions that caused their detachment in the first place.
- Giving them the space to deal with their issues at their own pace and in a way that doesn’t make them scared or uncomfortable.
- Focusing on your own growth. If you devote your attention to what you can accomplish on your own, your partner might feel less pressured to respond to your needs and expectations.
Rely on PIVOT To Overcome Emotional Detachment In A Relationship And Improve Communication
Building emotional intimacy with a detached partner is a challenging task that frequently requires some outside help and guidance. Whether it’s you or your partner whose emotional detachment prevents you from having the kind of relationship that makes you feel safe, loved, and understood, it all begins with self-improvement. PIVOT’s relationship coaches are available for individual sessions to help you manage your or your partner’s detachment.Since communication is one of the building blocks of a healthy relationship, you might benefit from practicing these skills in a small group workshop of Glass House retreats. You can escape the stress of your everyday life for a few days and allow the experienced coaches to gradually guide you to self-realization and self-improvement. Then, after identifying and addressing the causes of emotional detachment, you can adopt healthier behavior and communication patterns and finally have the relationship you deserve.