In this article, we will try to answer the question ‘Why am I not emotionally attached to anyone?’. We will look at how you can identify the symptoms of emotional detachment and why is it important to identify/recognize emotional detachments. Finally, we will also look at what can be done to remedy the situation.
Why am I not emotionally attached to anyone?
There can be multiple reasons for being unable to emotionally feel attached to anybody. Some reasons for the same are:
- You use emotional detachment or distance as a defense mechanism
- Your attachment styles developed during childhood
- A history of abuse
- The presence of Psychological disorder/s
- A side effect of some medication
Some people employ emotional detachment as an emotional self-defense practice so that broken or destroyed emotional attachments do not cause suffering to them. It is almost like building a wall against yourself to protect yourself from the emotional dangers a broken relationship could cause.
Defense mechanisms, in Freudian terms, are behaviours that people use to prevent themselves from witnessing an unpleasant situation. The roots of these defenses lie in the hidden and latent content in our unconscious mind. Which means, it is not necessary that we consciously know that we are prohibiting ourselves from being emotionally attached to anyone.
Attachment styles learned during childhood
The initial years of development have significant effects on the style of emotional attachments people build later in life. It is important that the child develops healthy, trusting and loving relationships with the parents and caregivers in the first few years of life and all their needs are adequately met bodily and emotionally. The probability of the child not developing trusting and emotionally secure relationships later in life, if there are gray areas in their childhood, is higher.
History of abuse
Having a history of abuse can be really challenging for people causing mental prohibition towards building emotional attachments. Very often, in abuses of any kind, people who are very close or known to us are the ones who are the perpetrators. Being victimized and let down by someone you had a lot of trust in makes it difficult to build trusting relationships with others because of the fear of a repeated pattern of dishonesty and brutality.
Psychological disorders like major depressive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and some personality disorders can cause the person to be challenged emotionally.
A side effect of some medication
Medications for some physical diseases and psychological disorders can create imbalances in the level of neurotransmitters our brain produces as a side-effect. This side effect could then cause mood disturbances and emotional detachment too.
What is emotional detachment?
Emotional detachment is generally defined as “the inability or the unwillingness to connect with people on an emotional level”.
It is different from emotional unattachment in the spiritual context. Emotional unattachment is highly regarded as the ability to train your mind in a powerful way where the external situations, however challenging they may be, do not cause emotional reactions in and from you. You learn to be an observer of your thoughts and let them come and go without sharp emotional responses to them.
What are the symptoms of emotional detachment?
Some symptoms of emotional detachment to notice in yourself and others are as follows:
- Inability to express emotions to anybody including close friends & family members.
- Inability to show empathy, kindness, and compassion in necessary situations.
- Avoiding social situations which could trigger a memory of past trauma.
- Feeling mentally lost when among close people.
- Inability to prioritize other person’s needs when needed.
- Difficulty committing to relationships and frequent changes in partners without significant reasoning.
Why is it important to recognize emotional detachment?
Emotional detachment can be helped with once recognized. Emotional detachment affects relationships and also creates chaos within oneself to a large extent.
Emotional detachment surely affects relationships negatively. However hard you try to not let your mistrust come out in the limelight, it will. People might notice you being emotionally distant, avoiding gatherings and excusing yourself from having conversations. They might be unaware of the cause for your behavior and this can cause a rift between you and them.
Conflict within oneself
There can be many instances where you feel you wish to be emotionally available or expressive towards someone but feel unable to do so. This can be personally very frustrating for you. You might keep questioning what is wrong with you and why is it so difficult for you to speak, cry and vent about your emotions, and why are you so defensive when someone points it out to you or why you can’t do things differently even if you wish to.
The other extreme: Unhealthy emotional attachment
Imagine emotional attachments as a balance in the way you think about, feel and express your emotions. One end of the balance is emotional detachment and the other extreme side is having unhealthy emotional attachments.
What is unhealthy emotional attachment?
Unhealthy emotional attachments are when you feel dependent on the other person for your own sustenance and happiness. It entails a lot of attention-seeking behavior too because you are almost unable to live happily without the other person’s attention and approval. It is as if your entire existence revolves around them, their life and their choices. You do not think independently as an individual about what could be healthy for you in the moment and in the long term. You might even put impositions on them which makes their life difficult too. You probably make them feel guilty for not meeting your expectations. You strongly hold selfish beliefs and practices about them and prohibit them from engaging themselves in social circles which do not include you.
Your entire self-esteem should not be dependent on a person because the moment the care and affection that person offers you is withdrawn by them you will find yourself in a state of emotional ruin.
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What can be done to help yourself?
Know that it is essential to have some balance in your emotional expressions and understanding of things. Also, know that emotional detachment can be reversed. Every person has the potential within themselves to heal their traumas, learn to communicate better and build healthy personal & social relationships.
To be able to help yourself you will have to:
- Consult a psychiatrist
- Seek mental health therapy
It is really difficult for people to share struggles with emotional detachment with others especially because expression is their exact concern. But, know that if you are feeling suffocated within yourself and feel helpless, the only way to figure things out will be to talk to someone you trust, even if it is only a little.
Human beings are social creatures. It is almost impossible for people to efficiently survive if there is not one person they trust and can talk to. Therefore, communicating with others is crucial.
Take courage to open up to atleast one person who according to you will understand your situation in the best light and won’t minimize your suffering by laughing or ridiculing you.
Tell the trusted person that you are facing trouble expressing yourself and feel emotionally detached and distanced from everyone. Tell them that it is really challenging for you to get talking to someone and it did take a lot of courage for you to open up to them at least.
Consult a psychiatrist
A psychiatrist can make a diagnosis of any mental illness or disorder that might be triggering emotional aloofness. If you are already on medication for some disease/disorder the psychiatrist can make sure that side effects of the medications are minimal and balanced out with medication to reduce the already existing side-effects. Medication is an important part of recovery and going to a professional should not be delayed.
Seek mental health therapy
Consulting a counselor/ psychotherapist is essential in mental health issues. This, most often, goes hand in hand with medication based on the severity of the struggle the person is experiencing.
A counselor can help you navigate your pain and perception towards past traumas and alleviate current emotional detachment triggered by the abuse/ difficult experience.
A counselor can bring in newer ways of perception, help the person to emote better while engaging in healthy boundary-making. The counselor can also help the person eradicate irrational thoughts and beliefs that inhibit the person’s well-being. The counselor and the client, together, also work on and construct healthier coping mechanisms against stressors for the client.
In this article, we attempted to answer the question ‘Why am I not emotionally attached to anyone?’. We looked at how you can identify the symptoms of emotional detachment and why is it important to identify/recognize emotional detachments. Finally, we also discussed what can be done to remedy the situation.
What we recommend for Relationship issues
If you are suffering from relationship issues then ongoing professional relationship counselling could be what you need. Relationship Counselling can be done individually or with one or more partners.
Relationship counselling helps you regain the amazing elements of your relationship and provides you with the techniques needed to avoid conflicts, misunderstandings and the most common issues most relationships struggle with.
Frequently Asked Questions: Why am I not emotionally attached to anyone?
What does it mean to be emotionally attached to someone?
Being emotionally attached simply means that there is a connection and intimacy between you two which goes beyond physical pleasures, for example, sex in a romatic relationship. You trust that person and can rely on them for emotional support.
However the term is not limited to romantic relationships and humans. Emotional attachments can be developed with just about anyone who you would wish to consider as a close person to you and even with non-human living beings like pets and plants.
What do you call someone who shows no emotion?
A personality trait where a person has no emotions or cannot express their emotions is called as Alexithymia. The main characteristics of Alexithymia are dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relations. They also have trouble identifying and reacting to other people’s emotions in an appropriate fashion.
Do I have emotional attachment issues?
This is a question that requires a great deal of self-reflection and contemplation. You will have to first identify why do you feel that you might have emotional attachment issues. You will have to pay special focus on the kind of symptoms you are experiencing because of which you feel you are struggling with having emotional attachments.
Somet things to focus on are: how your mood changes, your need for control over people and situations, your anxiety levels, how lonely you feel with or without people around you, how do you distract yourself when you feel let down by someone, how do you feel when someone withdraws the attention they used to give you in surplus amounts.
Try to get into the depth of the matter by analyzing your past and current life circumstances and experiences. If it seems to overwhelming to think about, consider taking professional guidance on how you could do so.
What we recommend for Relationship & LGBTQ issues
- If you are having relationship issues or maybe you are in an abusive relationship then relationship counselling could be your first point of call. Relationship counselling could be undertaken by just you, it does not require more than one person.
If you are dealing with LGBTQ issues then LGBTQ counselling may be a great option for you. Maybe you are confused as to your role and identity or simply need someone to speak to. LGBTQ counsellors are specially trained to assist you in this regard.