5 Tips for Practicing Emotional Detachment

Do you think you may be too emotionally attached in your relationships? Well, in this article, we'll give you some tips to practice emotional detachment. That way, you'll enjoy healthier relationships.
5 Tips for Practicing Emotional Detachment

Last update: 15 July, 2021

Many people have relationships that are based on attachment. This is normal for them, as the patterns they’ve seen throughout their lives were based on it. But the discomfort, pain, and lack of independence this causes them makes them look for ways to practice emotional detachment.

There’s a very interesting phrase that summarizes what attachment is, in contrast to love. Psychologist Silvia Congost says the following: “Dependence is born of need, while love is born of freedom.” How true this is!

This is a  dependence that not only exists within a couple but can also appear with family and friends. Let’s take a closer look.

How can I know if I’m suffering from emotional attachment?

The first thing is to determine if you’re really suffering from emotional attachment. Not everything has to be attachment and dependence, so try to identify just what emotional attachment is.

You should suspect that you’re suffering from emotional attachment when you can’t stop thinking about the other person. Even if you’re at work or with friends, you find it difficult to enjoy and focus, because the other person occupies all your thoughts. This is neither healthy nor positive.

Another aspect that should alarm you is if you’re always waiting for the other person’s call or message. It’s as if your attention is solely on them and it distracts you from everything and everyone else. This isn’t positive, especially because other things also require your full attention.

Finally, if you only feel happy when you’re with or hear from the other person, this is serious! Your happiness should be born from within and not depend on someone else. This is a sign of a self-esteem problem.

A shattered picture of a happy couple in the foreground, with a distraught woman sitting on a couch in the background.
When the thought and the memory of the other person invade your whole life, there’s emotional attachment and not love.

Symptoms of emotional attachment

To better illustrate and identify emotional attachment, we’ll give some examples of symptoms that can be warning signs. For example, if you feel very anxious when you notice that the other person doesn’t answer your messages or calls right away. You stare at your cell phone compulsively and this is a clear sign.

Are you unable to do things and feel good without the other person? This is another symptom of emotional dependency. If you don’t know how to enjoy yourself if the other person isn’t there, this is a clear warning that there’s a problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible.

Other symptoms may be the following:

  • You need to please and satisfy the other person to feel good.
  • You can’t see the other person’s defects, but only what you like.
  • You’re afraid of being rejected or abandoned.
  • Because of this, you act possessively and feel jealous.
  • The phrase “without you, I’m nothing” defines your relationship.

Consequences of emotional attachment

As you can see, emotional attachment isn’t healthy at all. You can’t have a healthy relationship based on trust if you fear losing the other person.

The moment your whole world revolves around them and you’re not autonomous, but dependent, you’re in a toxic relationship that only causes us pain.

Another consequence of emotional attachment is that your self-esteem decreases. As you only care about the other person, you stop taking care of yourself. This causes you to water yourself down and, when you look in the mirror, you no longer recognize yourself. We have forgotten ourselves.

Even though the other person makes you feel happy, you always feel dissatisfied and frustrated. It’s as if nothing can please you. These feelings are normal when you depend on the external to make you happy.

The invasive thoughts, the anxiety, the constant fear of abandonment, the demand for demonstrations of affection from the other person… all have a fatal outcome. Your self-esteem will continue to plummet and you’ll find yourself trapped in a relationship with pain as the predominant emotion.

5 tips for practicing emotional detachment

Now that you know how harmful emotional attachment can be, you should consider some tips for practicing emotional detachment. It’s not easy, but with willpower and professional help, it’s possible to change the way you’ve related to one another up to this point.

1. Have our own life

Those hackneyed phrases like “now we are one” or “you’re my entire world” are a big mistake. Having a partner or another person in your life doesn’t mean that your lives are merged and that you have to do everything together. Meeting friends separately and doing activities alone is essential.

2. Learning to be alone is key to emotional detachment

When you’re alone, do you feel sad? Do you feel anxious if you don’t have that person by your side? They haven’t always been there, and maybe someday the relationship will end or your paths will take different directions. You must learn to be alone and enjoy that solitude.

A woman lying on the floor painting, alone.
Enjoying solitude is an exercise in self-sufficiency and promotes the emotional detachment from that which hurts us.

3. No one’s responsible for you

This advice for practicing emotional detachment is fundamental. No one but you should be responsible for your happiness or well-being. We’re no longer small children who depended on adults. Now you’re the one who should be responsible for your life.

4. Don’t take anything for granted

Having a partner doesn’t mean that the person owes you something or that they’ll want to be with you forever. Surely, you’ve also left some relationships in the past.

In fact, with attachment, you tend to have chain relationships to avoid being alone and suffering grief. So, look at the relationship in a realistic way, without fantasizing.

5. Communication is fundamental

Do you feel jealousy regarding the other person? Distrust? Well, it’s better to communicate that than to fall into obsessive and unhealthy practices around the relationship.

This can help you get rid of your doubts, stay calm, and understand that everything’s in your head and is a product of insecurity. Communication’s fundamental.

Practicing emotional detachment is an exercise that takes practice

All in all, we don’t want to finish this article without one final recommendation, which is that you see a professional if you need it. In the area of psychology, there are many people specialized in dependency who can accompany you to practice emotional detachment more effectively.

Building healthy relationships isn’t easy, but it is possible. There are many learned patterns that we must unlearn, and it’s our responsibility to do so.

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  • Aiquipa Tello, J. J. (2015). Dependencia emocional en mujeres víctimas de violencia de pareja. Revista de Psicología (PUCP)33(2), 411-437.
  • Castelló, J. (2000). Análisis del concepto dependencia emocional. In I Congreso Virtual de Psiquiatría (Vol. 5, No. 8).
  • Hoyos, M. L., Arredondo, N. H. L., & Echavarría, J. A. Z. (2007). Distorsiones cognitivas en personas con dependencia emocional. Informes psicológicos9, 55-69.