How do you distance yourself or detach emotionally from someone you love, but have to let go of? Learn how a healthy emotional detachment can help you heal when a relationship breaks down. You won’t always struggle with these painful feelings. Your heart will heal, and you will recover your true self. Emotionally detaching from someone you love – but can’t be with – is the first step to healing.
Emotionally detaching from someone you love doesn’t mean you’re cold, hard or emotionally unavailable. Emotionally detaching also doesn’t mean you’ll never fall in love or have a healthy relationship again! It simply means that even though you love your ex boyfriend or ex husband, you have to let him go. You need to become free to heal your heart so you can love again one day.
These tips for healthy emotional detachment from someone you care about are inspired by a reader’s email about accepting a breakup you didn’t want. I often write about healing hearts after breaking up, and am realizing the importance of detaching emotionally after a relationship ends. These tips will help you understand what a healthy detachment is, in both broken and existing relationships.
Yes, emotional detachment is important even in healthy relationships and marriages! I just wish there was a better word for it. Here’s a lovely way to describe it: “Let there be spaces in your togetherness,” said Khalil Gibran. “And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.”
A slight, healthy emotional detachment in an active or healthy relationship means allowing your boyfriend or husband to be who he is. And, it’s about blossoming into who God created you to be without trying to change, remodel, or remake yourself! That’s why I think it’s crucial to “let there be spaces in your togetherness.”
6 Ways to Emotionally Detach From Someone You Care About
Emotional over-involvement happens when thoughts become focused on the other person in ways that are unhealthy for both the individual and the relationship. Over-involvement can lead to feelings of anxiety, agitation, helplessness, depression, anger, and even resentment. These tips for emotional detachment – either after a breakup or in preparation for a healthy new relationship – will help you find strength and healing.
Disentangling or healthy emotional detachment is about creating enough space between yourself and a man. This helps you see yourself and your relationship more clearly, which will help you make good decisions.
These tips revolve around detaching from an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, but can be applied to any type of friendship or relationship. For instance, a girlfriend who is suffocating her boyfriend emotionally or even spiritually is not healthy or emotionally detached. On the contrary, she needs to learn how to stop being the “clingy girlfriend” in a relationship.
1. Focus on healing yourself – not obsessing about your ex or the breakup
For others to love and respect you, you have to love and respect yourself. To love and respect yourself, you may need to make changes in your life. How do you need to change how you live and what you’re excited about? Maybe you need to get a different type of exercise, go back to school, or spend more time with people who support and uplift you. Maybe you need to start something new in your life.
To emotionally detach from an ex-boyfriend or ex-husband, you need to find a sense of self-identity. Who were you before the breakup or before your relationship even began? Who do you want to become? Maybe you want to be healthier physically, or stronger emotionally. Maybe you want to get closer to God or renew your relationship with prayer and deep reflection. Write down what you want, and start taking specific action steps forward.
2. Give yourself – and your ex – time to heal and detach
One of the most important tips on emotionally detaching from someone you care about is to take a step back (even though your instincts may be telling you to move closer!).
Instead of turning towards your ex boyfriend or ex husband, listen to the still small voice deep within. Figure out who you are apart from your friendships, love relationship, marriage, kids, and family. Give yourself room to breathe by developing your own interests and life. This is difficult when you’re emotionally over-involved or even obsessed with someone you’re in love with but need to let go, but it’s so important.
3. Practice the art of “emotional detachment”
Maybe you invested yourself in this relationship in more ways than you can count: emotionally, spiritually, physically, socially, financially, even professionally. It hurts when it ends and you have to detach emotionally (but if you can learn the art of emotional detachment, you’ll be more loving and strong in your next relationship!).
Be objective and smart when you look at who you need to detach from (an ex boyfriend or ex husband?) and why you need to let go. Is this the relationship you really and truly wanted for yourself, before you met him? Would you want your niece, daughter, sister, or best friend to be in this relationship? Did your ex boyfriend or husband willingly meet your needs and respect your wishes? Do you do the same for him, or did you cling to him?
If you had to do it all over again, ask yourself if you’d choose the same man again. There are no right or wrong answers – this is just a process that will help you detach emotionally and let go.
4. Try to learn what holds you back and keeps you emotionally attached
It’s important to know yourself! Why are you searching for tips on emotionally detaching from someone you love? Maybe you’re still in a relationship with an ex you know you need to detach from. Maybe you’re wondering if you should break up — because sometimes you need to start detaching from someone you care about while you’re still together. Before you can detach, you must discern what is keeping you attached and if you really want to be with your ex.
Can you accept your boyfriend or husband exactly the way he or she is right now? This is part of healthy emotional detachment from someone you care about. Are you both willing to do what it takes to work on your relationship (eg, marriage counseling, support groups, or reading books or taking communication classes together)? A healthy relationship can’t happen when only one partner cares enough to try to rebuild it.
5. Remember that “this, too, will pass”
The initial pain of detaching emotionally from someone you care about is usually the worst part of it. I know how hard it is; maybe you feel like you’ll never love again, never trust again, never laugh again…but trust me, you will get through this. It’ll take time, it’ll take support from your friends, patience, and maybe even 40 days and nights of wailing and gnashing your teeth – but you will be happy again. The pain is temporary, but the process takes time.
6. Learn how to let go of someone you love
I wrote 75 How to Let Go of Someone You Love: 3 Powerful Secrets (and 75 Tips!) for Healing Your Heart because I needed to learn how to let go of my sister. Letting her go was the most painful and difficult thing I ever did, but I had no choice.
To write this ebook, I interviewed life coaches, counselors, and grief coaches on letting go. I know how shocking, confusing, and heart-wrenching it is when you’re letting go of a loved one. It’s devastating – and it changes how you see yourself. Learning how to let go of someone you love is about rediscovering your passion and identity.
The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life by Susan Anderson defines the phases of grieving over a lost relationship and detaching from the person no longer in your life. This book is designed to help all victims of emotional breakups – whether it’s a recent loss, difficult breakup, hard divorce or a wound from long ago. This can be your opportunity to learn how to emotionally detach and get healthier in your relationships.
Your thoughts – big and little! – are welcome below. Writing is one of my favorite ways to work through my emotions, figure how I really feel, and get insight into what I truly want. Try it. I recommend writing in a private journal, with a pen and paper, but you may find it helpful and interesting to share your story with others.