Things just haven’t been the same lately, have they?
That initial euphoria you felt when falling in love is a thing of the past, and more and more often, you find yourself feeling… off. As if you were on a different wavelength than your partner, and you’re not quite sure how to turn the right frequency back on.
The questions pile up on top of one another, keeping you up at night. What’s going on? Is this normal? Should love be like this?
If this sounds familiar, you may want to keep on reading. Here are the 9 signs you’re becoming emotionally detached from your partner.
1) You’re non-responsive to your partner’s bids for connection
Your partner comes home, and as they’re hanging the coat up, they’re already venting to you about what happened at work today.
A month or a year ago, you would have been happy to welcome them home, listen to them with intent, and give them all the emotional support they need. In short, you would have been fully invested in the interaction.
But now, you find yourself feeling apathetic, your significant other’s ramblings diminished to exactly that – ramblings in the background rather than an opportunity to connect.
By confiding in you about their troubles, your partner’s offering you what The Gottman Institute calls a “bid for connection” – an attempt to receive your attention, affection, or any other type of positive interaction.
Bids for connection happen in all relationships. It can be a long complaint about their work, as illustrated above, but bids may also manifest as a wink, a joke, or pointing out something beautiful to your partner so that you can both share the experience together.
It’s essentially a question: “Will you pay attention to me? Will you connect with me?”
If you find yourself unwilling to do so, it’s a sign you’re becoming emotionally detached – or, in other words, you’re closing yourself off to your significant other.
You might be doing this because you’re scared of commitment, have an avoidant attachment style, or are simply falling out of love. Whatever the reason, emotional detachment is a very painful process for both parties involved.
2) You feel no need to share your worries or joys with them
It’s not just that you ignore their bids for connection – you are now having a harder time placing your own bids.
Worried about work? You just shrug it off and say nothing.
Something exciting happened to you this morning? You shared it with your coworkers but see no reason to tell your partner later in the evening.
It’s like you’ve become a fort, and no matter how hard your partner tries, they simply can’t get through the gate or climb up the walls.
Maybe, you’d even like to open up. Maybe, there’s nothing you want more than to have a genuine connection with them. But you simply don’t know how, the lovey-dovey feelings you once had turning into indifference.
It hurts. I know. But it’s also a big sign you may need to explore your inner self in more depth and find the crux of the issue because it’s very possible that your emotional detachment has little to do with your partner and everything to do with your hidden fears and barriers.
3) You never miss them when they’re gone
First of all, let me tell you that it’s completely normal not to miss your partner when you haven’t seen them in two days.
Once the honeymoon phase is over and you’ve both found your rhythm, it’s common to settle into a comfortable routine and not think about your significant other 24/7.
However, you don’t really miss them even after a week or two.
What’s more, it’s not just that – it’s the fact that you barely even think about them, and when you do text or call them, it’s out of a sense of obligation more than a genuine desire to hear from them.
And that’s perhaps the most important point: obligation. Bit by bit, every interaction is turning into something you do because you should, not because you want to.
You go through the motions, but the motivation is… gone.
4) The bare minimum is all you can muster
You feel obligated to perform some typical relationship-y actions, such as replying to your partner’s texts or kissing them goodnight, but going the extra mile just to make their day is rarely something you’d willingly do.
You’re already trying quite hard to listen when they’re talking, so going above and beyond feels almost impossible.
Most days, the bare minimum is all you can manage. And you may feel guilty about it, but that guilt doesn’t change the fact that you’re so emotionally detached you can’t bring yourself to care properly.
5) You subconsciously sabotage the relationship
Emotional detachment might be a symptom of a deeper issue – for example, it might mean you’re afraid of a genuine connection or aren’t in love in the first place – and it often goes hand in hand with other symptoms.
Here are just a few:
- Picking fights over small issues
- Criticizing your partner too often
- Suspecting your partner of having an affair although they’ve given you no reason to feel that way
- Projecting your feelings onto your partner and looking for ways in which they don’t show you affection so that you can feel less bad about your own lack of emotional engagement
By doing all this, you’re subconsciously trying to destroy the relationship without feeling like it’s your fault or without having to be honest about your true feelings.
6) Your sexual life has taken a hit
When romance suffers, it tends to manifest in the bedroom.
If you’re becoming emotionally detached from your partner, there is a high chance that your sexual life isn’t what it used to be – you’re not as engaged, your libido may have gone down, and many nights, you’d prefer to cuddle and go to sleep.
While your partner may worry that your lack of passion has something to do with them, it’s probably mostly about you and your new-found emotional state.
If your significant other confides in you about their worries, do your best to reassure them and explain what’s going on beneath the surface.
They deserve to know they haven’t done anything wrong.
7) Loving acceptance has turned into annoyed sighs
Those cute little quirks your partner has? You know, the fact that they often bump into things, bite their nails when they read an intense scene in a book, or talk to themselves in the shower?
Yeah… you don’t really find those quirks cute anymore. In fact, a lot of things about them have recently started getting on your nerves.
The sound of their teeth scraping against their nails is jarring. The crazy chitchat in the shower only reminds you they’ve been stuck in the bathroom for twenty minutes while you need to use the toilet.
And what’s up with that clumsiness? Can’t they pay attention to their surroundings for *one second*?
This is a huge sign of emotional detachment because it means you no longer look at your partner with love, tenderness, and forgiveness. Now that you’ve gained some distance, the pink-colored glasses are off, making you question the whole relationship.
8) You’re putting more emphasis on your other relationships
When love dies down – be it due to your own barriers and issues or through a natural fizzling out – your other relationships move back to the forefront.
That exciting story you’ve heard? You tell it to your best friend, your coworkers, and a random cashier at the supermarket, but not your partner.
Those friends who want you to go to the pub with them even though it’s supposed to be date night? You say yes and come up with an excuse when your significant other asks you why you’re canceling on them.
While it’s true that we should always try to maintain our non-romantic relationships alongside the romantic one, you are doing more than that – you are prioritizing them almost 100% of the time and leaving your partner behind.
This is because you’re trying to avoid forming a genuine connection with your significant other, so you’re seeking it elsewhere.
9) You wonder if this is what love is supposed to be like
Ah, the questions. Questions upon questions keep you up at night, one more than others: “Should I feel this way? Is this normal?”
The answer is… no. Whilst there *is* a natural calming down period after the honeymoon phase is over, it’s important that we distinguish between gentle love and indifference.
If you’re becoming emotionally detached, there are multiple reasons for why this may be happening:
- You have an avoidant attachment style and are scared of authentic closeness
- You’ve been hurt in the past and don’t want to feel that way again, so you’re shielding your heart from your significant other
- You know that there is an inherent incompatibility between you and your partner but keep trying to make it work – to no wail
- You’re not in love and don’t want to admit it to yourself
Whatever it is, remember that telling your partner the truth and potentially letting them go will hurt them nowhere near as much as staying in a relationship that doesn’t work.
It’s hard to hurt someone you care about. But ultimately, it’s best to choose the path that allows both of you to thrive – whether you stay together or not.