6 Min Read
- What Emotional Detachment In A Relationship Can Look Like
- True Signs Of Emotional Detachment
- What You Can Do When Your Spouse Has Become Emotionally Detached
- What It All Means
Recently a question was asked by a man, Glenn, regarding emotional detachment. Glenn said his wife had changed, and he was wondering what it meant and if she’d become emotionally detached from him.
It’s a good question as emotional detachment happens more often than you’d think and can lead to divorce if not reversed.
What he described was a moment enjoying a new kind of peace and quiet when he started to think, “Wait – it’s too quiet. Something’s wrong.”
He said it was a creepy feeling, like he’d missed something, or something bad is about to happen.
Can you relate?
This can be what it feels like when you start to realize that your spouse is becoming emotionally detached from you and your marriage.
Let’s be clear on something before we explore things further. Emotional detachment on its own is a psychological condition in which a person feels unable to develop emotional connections with others. There are many factors that can contribute to a generalized inability to develop these connections, including traumatic experiences, depression, or having been emotionally abused.
Emotional detachment in a marriage, however, is slightly different.
What Emotional Detachment In A Relationship Can Look Like
Detaching emotionally from your spouse doesn’t happen overnight. It happens bit by bit until one day you find that you no longer feel connected to your partner in any meaningful, emotional way.
I’ve heard women say,
- “He can’t make me cry anymore – I just don’t care enough”
- “I don’t feel anything for him”
- “I’ve realized that he doesn’t have any affect on me anymore.”
- Stop noticing their wives, even when they’re trying to look sexy.
- Seems constantly irritated or angers easily at small infractions.
- Stops communicating or expressing any interest in her or even the family.
It’s a state that has you feeling like your spouse is just another person in your life – not the person you loved and married.
Often spouses whose partners have emotionally detached from them say it happened out of the blue, like a switch flipped.
Dr. Kurt works with couples combatting emotional detachment on a weekly basis. According to him
Becoming emotionally detached from your partner is actually extremely common. In fact, it can happen almost automatically if you're not intentional about preventing it. Partners will drift apart as their relationship matures, the challenges of life impact them, and when they don't give their relationship the attention it needs. Sometimes couples are emotionally distant because of a specific incident, such as a fight or cheating. More often than not they end up there because of relationship neglect. The 'love is gone' is how they typically feel, and it's easy to assume the relationship is over. It doesn't have to be though."
More likely your realization that your partner has emotionally detached from you is what’s come out of the blue. Much like the eerie peace and quiet Glenn described, you suddenly understand that what you’re enjoying isn’t a good thing but rather an indication that there’s a problem.
Perhaps you’ve noticed,
- There’s no fighting or arguing.
- Your wife’s not nagging you about where you are and what you’re doing.
- Your husband isn’t interested in sex anymore.
- Your spouse seems to be living their own life and leaving you alone. Finally, right?
Many partners may believe that’s what they want – just to be left alone and not bothered.
- “Can’t she just do her own thing and leave me alone?”
- “Ugh, why won’t he just give me a break?”
These are questions partners do ask themselves. Yep, the emotional distance described above can happen, but that’s probably not a good thing.
True Signs Of Emotional Detachment
If you’ve started to feel like your partner is pulling away and less emotionally invested in your relationship, don’t ignore it. In fact, you should take a few minutes and consider whether there have been other signs of them becoming emotionally distant as well.
Some of the tell-tale signs of an emotionally detached partner include the following:
- No longer fighting. No fighting seems like a good thing, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s really not. While constant fighting isn’t healthy, never disagreeing and becoming apathetic, especially related to issues that might have traditionally caused reactions in your relationship, isn’t a positive thing at all. Fighting is an expression of emotion. When a person no longer cares enough to fight, it can be a sign of emotional detachment.
- Disinterest in your behavior or activities. Has your wife stopped asking where you’re going, what you’re doing, or how your day was? Does your husband seem to only be interested in things that involve the finances? It might seem nice to be able to do what you want without being questioned, but losing interest in your behavior, whether it’s good behavior or bad, can be indicative of problems.
- Disinterest in sex. Many men think it’s just normal for a woman to be disinterested in sex. Guys, it’s really not. Women just generally want an emotional connection to go along with the physical intimacy. If she’s emotionally detached from you she’s probably not interested in having sex with you either. And ladies, if your typically amorous man has stopped trying to be intimate with you or turns you down when you suggest it, there’s more there that needs to be explored. To be clear – all relationships go through dry spells, but apathy and lack of concern related to ending the dry spell is a sign that something’s wrong.
- Seeming preoccupied and busy all the time. A spouse that is detaching emotionally from their partner will need other things to focus on. This may mean that they become preoccupied with new activities, work projects, or hobbies. And they probably won’t share much of this with you.
- Seeking emotional support from others. Does she suddenly have a new BFF, or is spending time with people (or a person) you don’t know? Is he more interested in helping his buddies with all their household projects than being home with you? Becoming emotionally detached from you doesn’t mean your partner doesn’t have emotional needs, they just may be having those needs met by someone else. This can be a slippery slope into an emotional affair if the person who’s offering support is of the opposite sex.
- Lack of conversation. Many couples can sit in comfortable silence together and don’t feel the need to fill the air with small talk. But long stretches of silence along with the feeling that you have nothing to talk about isn’t healthy.
- Being treated like a roommate. Let’s see, no sex, other interests, come and go as you please, communication for necessity only…. Yep, you’re now roommates rather than partners. Living in the roommate zone is a clear sign of emotional detachment. And if you don’t take measures to change it, it can be the beginning of the end of your relationship.
If any of these sound familiar and especially if they’ve being going on for a while, there’s a problem. These are all indications that your spouse is emotionally pulling away from you and your relationship is headed down a bad road.
What You Can Do When Your Spouse Has Become Emotionally Detached
If your spouse has become emotionally detached this is a symptom of larger problems rather than a stand-alone problem. As mentioned, it didn’t happen overnight, so arriving at this point is the result of other issues that have gone ignored and unresolved.
To effectively address the situation now, you’ll need to begin by working backwards.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- When was the last time you remember things being good between you?
- What’s changed since then?
- Are you (or were you) having the same arguments repeatedly?
Identifying when things started to go wrong is a good first step. The next thing you’ll need to do is initiate a conversation with your spouse.
This should be an open, honest, and vulnerable conversation in which you candidly discuss the state of your relationship and the problems that may have gotten you here. Don’t expect to solve things immediately and bring it all back to good. The purpose of this conversation is to open the door to next steps.
What those next steps look like will vary from couple to couple. Some couples may be able to identify and fix their problems on their own, but if one partner has become emotionally detached it’s more likely that marriage counseling will be needed to unravel the issues that contributed to the current situation.
What It All Means
Emotional detachment means the strong feelings of love that were once present have diminished or been put aside. Perhaps this occurred as a –
- Result of frustration and resentment that began around the time things started to become difficult.
- Or perhaps the detachment is a form of self-preservation to keep from getting hurt any further.
Whatever the reason a spouse has become emotionally detached, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the love is completely gone. Recreating the attachment and feelings that were once present, however, will take work, time, and patience.
Rest assured, it’s not hopeless – things can change.
So, if you’re starting to recognize that all that peace and autonomy you thought you wanted isn’t really a sign of positive changes, you can take steps to turn things around.
Perhaps the best way to begin that process is to begin to re-engage emotionally yourself. Chances are if your spouse has been pulling away and seems emotionally detached, you have too. Now’s the time to start following the golden rule and do unto others as you’d have done to you. “Others” in this case being your spouse.
Looking for More? Check Out These Articles
- I Think My Husband Has Stopped Loving Me Back - What Can I Do?
- My Husband Is Hard To Reach On An Emotional Level
- What Should I Do If My Husband Is Too Friendly With His Coworker?
- Get More Help When the Love is Gone