What Is Detachment?



Detachment is the:

  • Ability to allow people, places or things the freedom to be themselves
  • Holding back from the need to rescue, save or fix another person from being sick, dysfunctional or irrational
  • Giving another person the space to be himself
  • Disengaging from an over-enmeshed or dependent relationship with people
  • Willingness to accept that you cannot change or control a person
  • Developing and maintaining a safe, emotional distance from someone whom you have previously given a lot of power to affect your emotional outlook on life
  • Establishing emotional boundaries between you and those people you have become overly enmeshed or dependent with in order that all of you might be able to develop your own sense of autonomy and independence
  • Process by which you are free to feel your own feelings when you see another person falter and fail and not be led by guilt to feel responsible for their failure or faltering
  • Ability to maintain an emotional bond of love, concern and caring without the negative results of rescuing, enabling, fixing or controlling
  • Placing all things in life into a healthy, rational perspective and recognizing that there is a need to back away from the uncontrollable and unchangeable realities of life
  • Ability to exercise emotional self-protection and prevention so as not to experience greater emotional devastation from having hung on beyond a reasonable and rational point
  • Ability to let people you love and care for accept personal responsibility for their own actions and to practice tough love and not give in when they come to you to bail them out when their actions lead to failure or trouble for them
  • Ability to allow people to be who they "really are" rather than who you "want them to be"
  • Ability to avoid being hurt, abused, taken advantage of by people who in the past have been overly dependent or enmeshed with you

Emotionally detaching requires that you change many of your attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Detaching is not about enabling someone else; it's about disarming the other person by eradicating his or her ability to hurt you. It's not about changing your behavior so that you don't "trigger" your wife or girlfriend. In fact, if you successfully detach it will probably provoke them to become even more nasty and controlling for a while.

Before you can begin to detach you need to accept the following:

  • Love does not conquer all. What you're experiencing in your relationship probably isn't love; it's a distorted and twisted version of it
  • You can't fix or rescue someone from being abusive, sick, dysfunctional and lost in their own highly distorted reality. In fact, trying to rescue someone is like trying to rescue a drowning person who is crying for help and then holds you under water until you begin to drown. The more you try to rescue her, the more she'll drag you under
  • You give your abusive spouse or partner the power to hurt you
  • You can survive and thrive without the relationship. You don't "need" her or him. You had a life before this person and eventually you'll have a much better one
  • You are not responsible for your spouses, partner's or ex's happiness, failures, shortcomings or bad behaviors
  • The person who you want your spouse or partner to be is in conflict with the person she or he is in reality
  • Continuing to hope for the best from someone who consistently gives you the worst is a set-up for more pain and disillusionment
  • You are not helpless, powerless and incompetent. The relationship with your abusive spouse or partner causes you to feel that way, which is why it's often so difficult to take care of yourself and break free
  • There is no shame in admitting that you need to walk away from a relationship that is destructive and toxic.
  • It's vital that you begin to develop a rational perspective and distance yourself from an ongoing hurtful relationship that you can neither control nor change


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