A young woman needs a guide for how to detach from someone.

A Guide for How to Detach From Someone

4 min.

Emotionally detaching from someone (especially someone you love) can be hard — here’s some step-by-step tips for how to start.

By: Charlie Health Editorial Team

Clinically Reviewed By: Dr. Don Gasparini

April 5, 2024

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Table of Contents

Emotional detachment is consciously or unconsciously disconnecting yourself from emotional experiences or attachments to others. Detaching from someone you love is tough and may trigger an emotional response. Whether due to a breakup, changing life circumstances, or realizing that the relationship is no longer healthy, learning to let go is a journey with challenges and complicated emotions.

Below, we’ll discuss how to emotionally detach from someone, how long it might take, and specific steps for detaching if you live with them.

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How do I emotionally detach myself from someone? 

Detaching emotionally from someone you love requires a mindful approach and commitment to your own well-being. Begin by acknowledging your emotions without judgment. Allow yourself to feel whatever arises: sadness, anger, or longing. Then, establish clear boundaries to create space between you and the person. This might involve limiting contact, avoiding triggers, or even unfollowing them on social media. 

Once you’ve done this, redirect your focus away from that person and onto activities and relationships that nourish your soul and bring you happiness. Cultivate self-awareness through mindfulness practices, noticing when thoughts of the person arise and gently guiding your attention elsewhere. Seek support from trusted friends, family, or a therapist to process your feelings and gain perspective. Remember, emotional detachment is a gradual process, so be patient and compassionate with yourself as you navigate through it.

What are a few ways to do this?

Figuring out how to detach from someone can be easier said than done. Below are a few concrete strategies to emotionally detach yourself from someone. 

Limit communication

Reduce the frequency and depth of your interactions with the person. Limiting communication might involve setting boundaries around when and how often you communicate or taking a temporary break from contact altogether.

Focus on yourself

Shift your attention inward and prioritize your own needs and well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, pursue personal goals, and invest in self-care practices.

Create distance

Physically remove yourself from situations or environments where you will likely encounter the person. Creating distance and setting healthy boundaries can help reduce the emotional triggers and attachments associated with their presence.

Challenge idealization

Recognize and challenge any idealized perceptions you may have of the person, especially in the context of an unhealthy or toxic relationship. Remind yourself of their flaws and limitations, and strive to see them more realistically, understanding the impact of the relationship dynamics on your well-being.

Seek support

Lean on a friend, family member, or a mental health professional for emotional support and guidance. Talking about your feelings and receiving validation can improve your emotional health and allow you to gain perspectives on a healthy relationship.

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How long does it take to detach from someone emotionally?

The timeline for emotionally detaching from someone varies greatly depending on individual circumstances, the depth of the connection, and personal resilience. There is no fixed duration or specific timeframe for this process. Emotional detachment may happen relatively quickly, especially if the relationship is short-lived or there are strong motivations for moving on, such as in an unhealthy relationship. However, emotionally detaching can take much longer for others, particularly in cases of deep emotional investment or prolonged relationships.

Research shows that factors such as the level of attachment, the nature of the relationship, past experiences, and individual coping mechanisms all influence the speed of emotional detachment. Additionally, the process may not be linear, and there may be setbacks or intense emotions along the way.

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It’s essential to approach emotional detachment with patience and self-compassion, allowing yourself the time and space to heal and move forward. Seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist can also facilitate the process and provide valuable insights and coping strategies. Ultimately, the goal is to gradually shift focus away from the person and towards personal growth, fulfillment, and well-being.

Mental health support at Charlie Health

If you or a loved one are struggling with your mental health, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health offers a virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) that provides more than once-weekly mental health treatment for young people dealing with serious mental health conditions. Our expert clinicians incorporate evidence-based therapies into individual therapy, family therapy, and group sessions. With treatment, managing your mental health is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

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