How to get emotionally detached

How to Tell It’s Time to Let Go of That Relationship I Psych Central

Whether it’s a complicated romantic relationship or a toxic one with family, there are times you just have to let go.

We’ve all experienced relationships that felt too involved or emotionally draining. These unhealthy relationships can be draining both mentally and physically.

Sometimes, detaching from them is the best way to take care of your mental health and well-being.

There are several reasons you may need to detach from a relationship.

If there’s physical or verbal abuse, if the relationship is causing you undue stress and anxiety, if you’ve noticed a change in your mood when around that person — these are just some of the reasons why it may be time to consider detaching yourself emotionally from that relationship.

But whatever the reason, understanding why you need to detach and how to do it can help you move on in a way that’s best for you.

There are a couple of ways to think about detachment.

It can mean avoiding certain people or situations that are causing you stress or anxiety, which can sometimes lead to “emotional numbing,” or the dampening of emotions.

Or, it can mean building and maintaining boundaries to preserve your mental health. By setting clear boundaries in your relationships, you can avoid the feelings of stress, anger, resentment, and disappointment that often build up when limits are pushed or ignored.

Now that you have a better idea of what emotional detachment is, it’s also a good idea to understand what detachment is not.

It doesn’t mean that you aren’t able to feel or that you lack emotions, nor does it mean you lack empathy. While emotional detachment can be a symptom of depression, voluntary detachment isn’t an indication that you have depression.

Rather, it’s about building healthy boundaries to make your expectations clear and establish what behavior is comfortable for you and what is not.

While some people view voluntary detachment as “rude” or “unfeeling,” that’s rarely the intention of the person detaching from the relationship.

There are several reasons why people may feel they need to emotionally detach from a relationship — whether that’s an intimate relationship or a complicated family one.

Some of those reasons include:

  • past experiences (neglect, abuse, or trauma)
  • personal choice
  • medication use, such as antidepressants
  • other mental health conditions, such as PTSD, depression, or a personality disorder

When deciding whether to detach from a relationship, identifying your reasons for detaching can be helpful in your decision making.

If you can’t figure out why you’re detaching, consider reaching out to a healthcare or mental health professional. Talking with someone may help you determine why you’re doing it and how to do it in a way that’s best for you.

Detaching from a relationship doesn’t mean you’re abandoning that person or that you’ve stopped caring about them.

It can mean taking a step back to evaluate how that relationship is affecting you and your mental health.

Do you obsessively worry about that person all the time? Do you try to rescue them from making choices you don’t feel are healthy?

Do you feel that you have to tell them what to do all the time? Does that person do the same to you?

Taking responsibility for another person’s actions and behaviors can be tiring and overwhelming at times. In the same way, having another person trying to tell you how to act and behave can be equally frustrating.

Detaching can give you the emotional space you need to take care of yourself. Sometimes, caring too much about another person’s life and problems can have a negative impact on your own emotional and physical health.

You may start to have headaches, lose sleep, or be more irritable. Excessive worry can lead to anxiety, fear, or panic.

So, when do you know it’s time to let go?

When your health depends on someone else’s actions and behaviors, it may be time to consider letting them go.

Now that you’ve made the decision that it’s time to let someone go, how do you actually do it? Here are some things you can try.

Identify the reason

Ask yourself why you’re now deciding to detach from the relationship. Having a solid reason to let go is important.

Without a strong reason, you may cave in and stay in the relationship. When identifying the reason you want to get out of the relationship, try to focus on the things that are progressive, rather than one-off issues.

For example, try to focus on the fact that your feelings for that person have changed over time, not that you got in your first fight.

Release your emotions

Releasing the emotion you feel about getting out of a difficult relationship is an important step in the process.

Whether you choose to cry, dance, or take a kickboxing class, it’s a good idea to release these emotions rather than bottle them up. By having an outlet for these emotions, you’ll be able to release the tension and avoid saying something you’ll regret.

Don’t react, respond

When leaving a relationship, there will inevitably be a difficult conversation.

During that conversation, the other person may say something that causes you to have a reaction. Reaction is a split-second decision and often can lead to regret.

Instead, take a deep breath and respond thoughtfully. By allowing the other person some space in the conversation and letting yourself take a moment to think more clearly, it’ll be a more productive conversation.

Start small

Just like smoking, quitting a relationship cold turkey can be painful and a shock to your system.

In some cases, you might consider starting small, slowly removing yourself a little at a time.

For example, start by one day deleting pictures of the two of you. Another day, delete their old messages. As you gently let go, your emotions will stay in check.

In other cases — like if the relationship is traumatic or involves domestic abuse or mistreatment — moving slowly may make things worse and cause more distress. Consider talking about next steps with a professional who specializes in these types of relationships.

Keep a journal

As you let go of a relationship, you’ll feel some big emotions. While it can be difficult to talk about them with other people, it can be helpful to work through your emotions in some way.

A journal can be a great way to process your feelings in a healthy, cathartic way.


Meditating can train your awareness and attention, which can be especially helpful during a highly emotional break-up.

Meditation can also increase your focus, reduce your stress, encourage calm, and help reduce negative feelings.

Be patient with yourself

Walking away from a relationship that was important to you can be challenging. So, try to give yourself some grace and patience to move on.

Remember that you can learn how to have healthy attachments. It’s all a process, and you can enjoy the journey along the way.

Look forward

If you’re focused on looking at what your relationship used to be like, it will be increasingly difficult to walk away from it. It’s natural to look back and see only the best in a person or a relationship.

But looking back will leave you stuck in the relationship.

Instead, look to the future. Think about your future happiness, rather than glorify the past.

If you’re in an unhealthy romantic relationship that involves abuse or mistreatment, there are some additional steps you may want to take.

Try to avoid sexual contact

Try to stop all sexual contact with the person you’re leaving. Sexual contact can strengthen your attachment and make it nearly impossible to successfully leave the relationship.

Try to stay away from alcohol or drugs

As tempting as it might be to temporarily forget about the pain and work of leaving a relationship, alcohol and drugs provide only temporary forgetfulness of the problem.

They won’t solve the issues and can actually be more harmful, as they can contribute to your attachment to the relationship.

Instead of looking for an escape in alcohol or drugs, try to face your feelings and the relationship head-on.

Consider joining a support group

Remember that you’re not alone. There are support groups available where you can share your experiences with others who’ve been in your shoes.

By joining a support group, you’ll connect with a group of people who know what it’s like to escape these types of relationships and can offer guidance and support during your journey.

If an in-person support group is too overwhelming for you, consider a virtual one.

Consider asking for help

Having the support of loved ones can play a role in you successfully leaving an unhealthy or harmful relationship.

Consider asking people you trust for their support and love during this challenging time. Explain that you might need them more during the coming months and communicate your challenges.

Remember: They love you and want to help.

If you’ve experienced an unhealthy relationship that involves abuse or mistreatment, seeking help from a licensed mental health professional can be beneficial to your mental health.

It will allow you to process your experience and come out the other side stronger and more able to form healthy attachments in the future.

If you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship, consider that it may be time to let that relationship go.

This, of course, is easier said than done. Sometimes it’s hard to leave because you’re so entwined with that person, and sometimes it’s hard to leave because the other person doesn’t want to let you go.

Remember that detaching doesn’t mean you’re cruel or selfish.

When it comes to your emotional health, taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for your overall well-being.

How Do You Become Emotionally Detached? 5 Best Mindful Tips

How do you become emotionally detached? Well, I have to admit that it’s easier said than done.

We are all humans, and so, emotional beings. Falling in love and feel terrible being dependent on his or her sight? Having butterflies in your stomach, missing the person, and feeling vulnerable? Anxious and worried about money? Afraid of losing your car because you can’t afford to pay it anymore?…

We have so many reasons to be attached to someone, or something. So much fear and insecurity that goes with that.

As it’s not a comfortable sensation, we have an interest in overcoming it. In addition, non-attachment and abandon of the results of anything we desire, bring us the most quickly to it, whether it’s the dearest person or your wildest dream of something.

How do you become emotionally detached? Not easy. But I have to assure you: With practice, we can improve enormously.

Let’s learn some best mindful practices that help. But first of all, let us understand more about  the phenomenon of attachment.

Attachment happens in all areas of our lives

Last Sunday evening, I was suddenly feeling vulnerable after a chat on Facebook. It was a beautiful relationship and friendship. We had nice conversations and debates. But abruptly, I had some doubts about these virtual discussions. I realized that I started to be attached to the person. It was not the first time my stomach was heating up. I couldn’t wait to receive the messages, for instance. I even sometimes underwent minor jealousy. I bore uncomfortable sensations of insecurity this relationship brought me in.

You may notice this too. This can happen in the virtual world, or in real life when it comes to relationships. You may want to detach emotionally from an ex-partner or with someone you live constantly with. When you love someone, come with a beautiful loving relationship, the sensations of emotional insecurity too.

Similarly, financially wide, you can also observe attachments too. It doesn’t matter how much you have, the experience of insecurity, and lack of fulfillment still remain. As an example, you can be attached to money, regardless of how big your bank account is. Do you know that among the people who worry the most about money, are the richest persons in the world?

Will it be the right reaction to keep some distance and cold yourself down in a relationship? Does non-attachment mean disengagement? How to still love without being needy? Practically about money, for example, how to come to peace with what you have? In short, how do you become emotionally detached?

So many questions you have regarding the art of non-attachment. But in the first place, to free ourselves from attachment, we need to understand where it comes from.

Attachment comes from fear and insecurity

What constructs our attachment? Fear and insecurity.

At their ends, these sensations of fear and insecurity come from the ignorance of our real nature. All of your physical world, cars, houses, clothes, money, even the person you love, are only the symbol of your real “self”. “Pursuing a symbol is like considering a map instead of territory” (Deepak Chopra). When we pursue these symbols, we encounter anxiety. It debouches on inner emptiness. We never feel enough, and secure, regardless of how much we possess.

As an example, if you base your emotional security on the person you love, your “symbol”, you will never find his attention or presence enough. You’ll need all the time more and more, and find yourself more and more dependent. This way of love is very insecure and traumatizing, isn’t it? While true love equals non-attachment. “You will be dancing more and you will become more loving. Remember, love is not attachment, love knows no attachment, and that which knows attachment is not love” (Osho)

When these unpleasant feelings of attachments come, here is my only advice. Find back the ways to focus your attention on and connect with your higher self. The next thing to do is to give yourself some time for the feelings to fade away. Non-attachment is a state of mind, which we can train ourselves.

How do you become emotionally detached? Learn my 5 best tips just right now.

#1. Be aware that non-attachment is a state of mind

First and foremost, we must recognize that attachment, and non-attachment are states of mind.“Detachment is a state in which a person overcomes their attachment to desire for things, people, or concepts of the world. He or she thus attains a heightened perspective” (Wikipedia).

“True detachment isn’t a separation from life but the absolute freedom within your mind to explore living.

Ron W. Rathbun

This awareness brings us the possibility to observe and train our mind to the state of non-attachment.

# 2. Understand and respect the impermanence of all life

To become emotionally detached, you realize the importance of living in a way that you go with the natural flow of things. By that, I mean you understand and respect the impermanence of all life.

Here is a very classical example. A cloud does not exist in itself. It only transforms from being water, snow, or frozen ice. Understanding this, you’ll not be attached to the fact that a cloud may disappear from the sky.

Will it apply to your lover, your car, your house, and your money? Well, it does. Impermanence applies to all things that exist. It includes the love and presence of someone to which you are so much attached. Or a beautiful car that you care dearly.

Realizing impermanence is a way to help us let go in our everyday life. Look deeply at all that you have. Your body, at first. Is it composed of water, that comes from a cloud? Does it contain innumerable beings inside it, from the cells of an apple that you just ate, or the oxygen that you just breathed from a tree? You will realize not only the interconnected nature of all things but also the impermanence. That is, the fact that nothing lasts forever.

Keep in mind this philosophy, and this way of living, you’ll be able to keep a stable state of mind of “non-attachment”. It will help when difficult emotions come.

But I can guess your next question! When I feel attached emotionally, what are the other practical things I can do to get out of it?

#3. Identify the ego

Again, there are many ways to go about emotional attachment. But the first step is generally to begin working to identify the ego.

Ego is what we believe we are, externally. It is the outer shell of ourselves, the self-image of who we are (SereneEnigma).

Many of our negative emotions come from ego, including emotional attachment. To identify your ego, we need to reach our higher self. This is generally done through some forms of meditation, particularly mindfulness. It allows you to observe yourself “silently”. You can watch what unfolds and arises from within you, and recognized the “ego” part of it. This can take time and can be challenging, but the process itself is very rewarding.

Strive to live with mindfulness in each moment. It is whether you’re sitting on the meditation cushion, walking from one place to the next, or are at work. Mindfully shine a light on your entire life. Uncover the presence of the ego in each area of your life. It can comprise the furthest reaches that lay hidden deep in your subconscious.

Identify the ego helps with the awareness that it is only part of a bigger and universal self. We are then liberated from our fear and insecurity created by our emotional attachment.

#4. Mindfully return to the present moment

When you are overwhelmed by an emotional attachment, the first thing to do is to take three deep breaths. Return to the present moment with mindful breathing. It helps you realize that life is much more than your current worries.

Do you conceive that at each and every breath, you are exchanging oxygen with these majestic green trees? That they are one with you? That each cell of your body contains the sun and the rains that ripen the fruits you ate. That at the very moment you are breathing, the Earth is spinning silently in the immense universe?

Life is much more. And taking perspectives can help overcome current emotional difficulties.

“When you know how to touch the present moment deeply, you touch eternity. You touch the past, and you touch the future”

Thich Nhat Hanh

What truly exists is the present moment. You can always return to it, your inner home. If you enjoy the present moment deeply you can overcome the fear of loss and the feeling of insecurity.

By focusing on the present moments, and free yourself from the attachment to the “symbols”. And that’s the way to realize your wishes. Because, as Deepak Chopra says it very well, “All that I desire is within me”. You can create all that you desire, love, or richness, by focusing on your pure intention. When there is no obstacle created by your own mind,

#5. Adopt the wisdom of uncertainty

When we are emotionally attached to someone or something, we are unconsciously searching for security. This quest is in vain. Because what every security we may find, it remains short term and illusory. We always need more. And in addition, all things change.

Being emotionally attached to someone or something comes from the habit of forcing the solution. We want things or people to be what we want. Our ideas of things become rigid. Nevertheless, if you adopt the wisdom of uncertainty, you will let things evolve by themselves. You are awakened to all possibilities.

“Uncertainty is the fertile soil of pure creativity and freedom”

Deepak Chopra

Receiving the “unknown” is a way to the field of all possibilities – And if you can be in this state, you’ll never feel emotionally attached to something or someone. You are open to passions of living: magic, celebration, joy, and exultation of mind. And that’s exactly how you receive them, all the desires that are the dearest to you.

How do you become emotionally detached? Practice with me

So you know, maybe better than anyone else, that being emotionally attached to someone or something is not a pleasant feeling. We have fear and insecurity. But attachment happens in all areas of our lives.

Practicing mindfulness can help you see deeply in the roots of attachment.

  1. You are firstly aware that attachment is a state of mind.
  2. Secondly, you realize and respect the impermanence of all things.
  3. Thirdly, you learn to recognize the ego and the self-image in those feelings, while being fully aware of a higher self where you are as big as life itself.
  4. Fourthly, mindfully return to the present moment.
  5. And finally, adopt the wisdom of uncertainty.

These are the gold keys to a fully engaged, yet unattached life. Practice today with me.


  • Today, I’m aware of my feelings and attachment and understand where they deeply come from
  • Today, I mindfully breathe in and out and recognize the wonder of life around me.
  • I don’t impose my ideas on what needs to be. I’m open to and accept all as it is offered to me in the present moment.
  • Today, I act in uncertainty. I know the solutions come by themselves out of confusion, disorder, and chaos.
  • Today, I’m open to indefinite choices. I will experience joy, adventure, magic, and mystery of life

Read more:

Mindful parenting techniques – All you need to know

Disadvantages of mindfulness – Don’t miss these 6

Releasing jealousy – 7 best mindful tips

Emotional detachment, what is it and what does it consist of?

Emotional detachment usually causes great doubt in many people, because they do not understand what it really means. Although at first glance it may seem that emotional detachment refers to people who do not feel anything. empathy With respect to others, the truth is that it has nothing to do, since when said non-attachment is mentioned, it is more related to the well-being of said person. nine0005

Then we will talk with you in more detail about what emotional detachment is and when to practice and do it.


  • 1 What is emotional detachment
  • 2 Emotional detachment from an injury
  • 3 When you need emotional detachment
  • 4 How to carry out emotional detachment

What is emotional detachment of

, first dependency as they are two completely different things which refer to the type of bond that will be established in the relationship. In the case of emotional withdrawal, it refers to a person who is able to emotionally withdraw from relationships that may be toxic or harmful. nine0003 This is important for the person who suffers from this relationship, because emotional detachment will help him enjoy life again and feel good.

Emotional detachment from trauma

There are several types or classes of attachment, ideally one in which a person can grow from childhood in a healthy way, both physically and emotionally. If this attachment fails, rather than the one described above, you may be suffering from other, less healthy and harmful attachments. nine0003 In such cases, emotional detachment arises from trauma. The indicated trauma experienced by a person during childhood may consist of physical and emotional damage that has a negative impact on the child in the medium and long term.

People who suffer from this type of detachment will face many problems in the future when it comes to relationships with other people or the possibility of starting a family. Emotional damage suffered since childhood makes close relationships with other people difficult and prefers to be alone than to make connections. nine0004

When emotional detachment is needed

Emotional detachment should take place when the person in question does not receive in a relationship what he gives to another person. This doesn't only apply to bonding between a couple, it can also happen between two friends. The problem in most cases is that the person who suffers finds it difficult to break off the mentioned relationship and does not take decisive steps to fulfill the said emotional detachment. nine0004

You need to understand that such a relationship does not give anything, and be able to disconnect in order to feel good both physically and mentally. In case you cannot do this on your own, it is recommended that you seek the help of a professional so that he can give you a series of recommendations that will help you emotionally separate from the other person.

How to practice emotional detachment

Practice emotional detachment is not an easy task at all. It is not easy to leave a place that has always been considered one's own, whether in a family, as a couple, or as a friendship. It is necessary to consider whether a person is happy in these relationships, whether he is healthy or vice versa. nine0003 In many cases, the person who is suffering thinks that things are not going well because it is their fault, which makes it difficult to perform such emotional detachment.

You have to choose who is really worth it and who you want to share your life with. Relationships, whether couples or friendships, should be as healthy as possible and rid of toxins. If the other person is not bringing you anything in life, you must let them go and find someone who will completely fill you up. You should listen to yourself more and appreciate your life more. nine0004

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You may be interested

Why do we choose emotionally unavailable partners


Man and woman

Attachment is like a big panic button in the brain. When life runs its course, there is no need for it. We make Easter cakes, collect bouquets of leaves, play catch-up. Or we meet with friends, make plans, go to work and enjoy every day. nine0005

But then something bad happens: we fall and break our knee. The school bully pushes us and we drop our lunch on the floor. The boss is threatening to fire you. These negative experiences generate worry and anxiety, and anxiety in turn activates our emergency button.

And she sends out a signal to seek closeness. We find those relationships that support us - or rather, what we think of ourselves. And this is the paradox: attachment, without which we would hardly have survived in childhood, begins to play a cruel joke with us. If we evaluate ourselves negatively, then we find comfort in relationships with those who evaluate us in the same way. nine0005

Three Relationship Strategies

The affection we felt for our mother in childhood dictates one of three relationship strategies.


Healthy strategy (secure attachment)

According to psychologists, no more than 50% use this strategy. Such people easily converge and communicate with others. They do not feel uncomfortable when someone depends on them, and they themselves are not afraid of losing their freedom. They perceive others and themselves positively. If something does not suit a partner in a relationship, they are always ready for a dialogue. nine0005


Manipulative strategy (anxious attachment)

These people seek maximum intimacy in relationships. Their ideal is complete fusion. They often worry that their partner does not love them enough, they are afraid to be alone.

People of this type underestimate themselves and put others on a pedestal, do everything to justify the expectations of people significant to them. Unusually affectionate, constantly looking for external confirmation of their own value, because they themselves do not feel it. nine0005


Leave me alone! (avoidant type)

They feel uncomfortable in close relationships, do not like to depend on others and prefer not to depend on them either. Having learned from their own experience that intimacy brings only suffering, they strive for independence and self-sufficiency.

Such people perceive themselves superpositively, and others negatively. They tend to use the insecurities of overly affectionate people to further strengthen their superiority. nine0005

Who chooses whom and why

If you carefully study these three strategies - as we once read the condition of the problem in school - it will become clear that all our further meetings and sufferings are already “set” in them.

People with the last two types of attachment are drawn to each other, although it is clear that their relationship is destined to be destructive. More importantly, they will reject a partner until he changes his positive attitude towards them to what they expect from him. nine0005

What about people with the first type of attachment? They are looking for people with the same healthy, secure type of attachment.

It would seem, why can't the second or third type meet the first? Such meetings take place, but such people do not experience mutual attraction, interest that can keep them together.

What to do? First of all, understand what type of attachment you have. This is the key to finding and keeping relationships if you haven't been able to in the past. If you continue to date “the wrong ones”, the main reason is still in you. nine0005

So why do we fall in love with emotionally unavailable partners?


Emotionally unavailable people dominate the “dating market”

looking for his mate.

People with a secure type of attachment do not embark on a series of long meetings and searches. Feeling that very "chemistry", they decide that the partner suits them, and tune in to a long-term relationship. That's why they are the hardest to find - they rarely enter the dating market, and when they leave, they stay on it for a short time and immediately "settle" in a new relationship. nine0005

In addition, emotionally unavailable people almost never meet with the same as themselves: none of them has a desire to emotionally invest in a relationship.

If you put all the pieces of the puzzle together, it turns out that the probability of meeting an emotionally unavailable partner is very high. However, they do not form relationships with each other because they need space and independence, they do not meet people with a healthy secure attachment, because such people do not stay in the market for a long time - so who do they attract? Alas, partners with an anxious type of attachment who crave extreme intimacy. nine0005


We find them very attractive

We often don't realize that the partners we're obsessed with are the ones who can only increase our deep self-doubt. It is our notions of love that attract special partners to us.

At the early stage of a relationship, an "independent", emotionally unavailable partner sends mixed signals: calls, but not always, does not hide his sympathy, but at the same time makes it clear that he is still in search.

Emotionally accessible partners don't act tough. In their world, there are simply no mysterious omissions

This tactic is quite advantageous: by receiving a vague conflicting message, the “needy” partner with an anxious type of attachment becomes obsessed with the relationship. Friends, hobbies, interests and careers fade into the background.


We lack "fire" in emotionally accessible partners

Let's imagine that we were lucky and we met a person whose childhood was simple and calm, and whose view of the world is just as simple and open. Will we realize that we have won the lottery, or will we decide that something is missing in our relationship with such a person? nine0005

Emotionally accessible partners do not play inaccessibility or, on the contrary, do not throw everything at our feet in order to conquer us. In their world, there are simply no mysterious omissions and suspense, agonizing waiting.

We are calm next to such a person, and we do not believe that he is the only one, because “nothing is happening”, because our emotions are not inflated, which means that we are bored. And because of this, we pass by truly wonderful people.

Ups and downs, doubts and elations, and constant waiting in relationships with emotionally unavailable people should not be mistaken for passion or love. It looks very similar, but believe me, it's not her. Don't let them captivate you. And, no matter how difficult it is, work to understand the mechanisms of attraction that are laid in us by our childhood. Believe me, it's possible. And emotionally healthy relationships can bring much more happiness. nine0005

Kyle Benson is a family psychologist and counselor.

Text: Maria Malygina Photo Source: Getty Images

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