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Emotional Health

By Eri Anton


Emotional Detachment

Emotional detachment is the inability or unwillingness to connect with other people on an emotional level.  For some people, being emotionally detached helps protect them from feeling unwanted drama, anxiety, or stress.  For others, the detachment isn’t always voluntary, it is the result of bad events in the life of that make the person and they are unable to be open and honest about their emotions.


Emotional detachment is common with people who have suffered traumatic events or circumstances in their lives.   The inability to deal with the hardship (your feelings and emotions) in a healthy way can create an emotional shut down.  If you don’t allow yourself to feel, you won’t hurt is the concept.   Unfortunately shutting down emotionally is only for self protection and doesn’t solve the real issue about what happened and how to deal with it in a healthy manner.    Many times having the ability to talk about what you feel and how something made you feel is the first step to dealing with it.


Guys are the worst for shutting down emotions as many men are taught at an early age that real men don’t cry or have feelings.  Men also are wired differently in their brains and when they are unable to deal with a certain stress or issue in their lives, turning it off is an easy decision.    You have heard men say before that I don’t want to deal with it.   They have shut down and have moved on.  This emotional disconnection or even stonewalling (complete disconnection) is not healthy and can lead to very bad habits that will not promote healthy emotional growth.    


When you become emotionally detached you may feel “numbed,  this is known as emotional blunting, and it’s typically a symptom or issue that should be addressed by a mental health provider.


People who are emotionally detached or removed may show it as:

  • difficulty creating or maintaining personal relationships
  • a lack of attention, or appearing preoccupied when around others
  • difficulty being loving or affectionate
  • avoiding people, activities, or places because they’re associated with a past trauma or event
  • reduced ability to express emotion
  • difficulty empathizing with another person’s feelings
  • not easily sharing emotions or feelings
  • difficulty committing to another person or a relationship
  • not making another person a priority when they should be
  • Inability to feel healthy emotions at all

It is important to realize the reasons for removing one’s self from emotional situations, because not all detachment is bad.   When we remove ourselves from emotionally charged situations that will result in nothing good by engaging, emotional detachment is a powerful tool to use.    When our emotional detachment is linked to traumatic events and hurts that have caused us to not want to feel it is very bad.   It will lead to withdraw, depression and isolation.   It will cause behavioral changes to adapt, so you don’t hurt again.   You see this in relationships where there was deep love and then deep hurt.    When you allow yourself to love at a deep level you open yourself up to hurt deep as well.   So it is a common pattern that once someone is hurt deep they shut down.  They don’t let anyone in close again and they sacrifice a deep meaningful relationship for superficial ones that don’t have the need for any emotional connection.  You have heard people say “fuck love” I don’t need it.   I can understand why if that is what love really was, but it isn’t.


If you are in a relationship taking time to understand how the other feels and not attacking behaviors is critical to addressing the issue.  Too often we want to label the others behavior or feelings a s wrong and to just not do it any more and everything will be alright.  Unfortunately, a deep loving relationship is cultivated in truly understanding your partners emotional needs.   Superficial relationships although safe will never give you the deep meaningful connection with people we all desire.   When you are emotionally damaged you don’t want connect with people and you settle for less than you can have because of the desire to not hurt and the need to find a happy place even if it is superficial.


If you are suffering from emotional detachment you should be concerned and look for help.  There are many good books, therapists and videos on emotional detachment and how to overcome it.   Some of the key things to understand about your detachment are: 

  • What are the specific issues or events that you want to detach from?
  • What do you feel during these issues or events?
  • What do you not want to feel?

How could this situation be handled differently without detaching?  Learning to communicate better and make behavioral changes in a relationship are key to not detaching from a loving relationship.   One of the biggest problems is partners not acknowledging how the other feels and in that process of not accepting how the other feels they don’t make the behavioral changes needed to deal with the issue.   I am not saying what someone feels is always right, but the feelings need to be acknowledged and talked about and a plan developed to help deal with those feelings.  Let’s face it we all have our own issues and we bring those into relationships with us.   So if someone is overly jealous you can’t isolate yourself from others to make them happy as that is not healthy.  What you can discuss is what behaviors could be changed to make it better?   Such as I am out with my friends and I send a text to my partner letting them know I miss them or am thinking of them.  Small behavioral changes to make someone you care about feel good.   These types of sacrifices for the other is what will build a deeper emotional connection and create a healthier relationship.


Treatment for emotional detachment depends on the reason it’s occurring and can include drugs such as serotonin to therapy.  It is always best to see your healthcare provider if you believe you struggle with emotional detachment.   This can develop into depression and anxiety as well so dealing with your emotions is important.  You can’t just not feel or close yourself off.   Shutting down will lead you to being bitter and hardened with a desire to stay away from people.


Emotions and feelings are a vital part of human connection.  Some people are able to turn off their emotions in order to protect themselves. For others, emotional numbing is unintended.  It may even be part of a larger issue, like depression or a personality disorder.  If you have difficulty processing emotions or you live with someone who does, it’s important you seek help from a mental health provider. These experts are trained to help you understand why you respond in this manner to emotions. They can then help you work through that behavior in a healthy way and attempt to correct it.


If you want to experience anything in life to the fullest you need your emotions and feelings to be at a healthy place.   The best relationship and life will occur when you are emotionally stable and can not only allow yourself to feel everything, but understand why you feel certain ways and make changes to deal with those feelings in a healthy manner.