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Emotional Blunting/Detatchment

TTorna
Community Member

Hi all,

Sorry if this is the wrong forum for this, but I couldn't find much related to this issue. I've been dating a very close friend of mine for 6-8 weeks. We've been best friends for about 10 years prior to this. Things were going very well, until she told family about me and her family reacted badly. This negative response triggered her somehow and now she feels what she describes as emotional numbness towards me. No romantic feelings anymore. I'm very hurt, but she told me it isn't anything I've done, and that she thinks it is her brain's response to a negative response. She wants to stay together and try to work it out, which we have been trying. As far as I researched, emotional numbness/detatchment is a thing but I don't quite understand it and I want to understand it more. I'm not sure if I'm a fool for staying or if it is something that will eventually pass. She keeps saying she was very happy with us before and where we were going before the emotional detatchment for me she now feels.

It's been a week and a half, and I have to say it has been very difficult to accept she feels nothing and watching her be distant to me while she tries to also let me know she still wants this to work. I really want to work through it, but I'm not sure if it's just something permanent that has cut her feelings towards me. Has anyone experienced this in family or friends/partners? She says she's not depressed, which I know numbness can be depression, but it seems to be focused only towards me, which I don't get as I was not the one who upset her.

I guess my question is: how do you help someone with emotional detatchment/numbness towards you?

Thank you.
13 Replies 13

Tay100
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi TTorna

Thanks for posting, we know it can be hard to do when you are hurting and someone you care about is hurting, too.

Please know that both your feelings are valid, and you aren't alone in this, even in a situation like this that seems to be more unique. Reaching out for help shows how much you care about her and your relationship. Don't discount that.

What I can gently suggest to you is the importance of self-care. Make sure you acknowledge how you feel, and be clear about them with her. What are your feelings telling you? What can you learn from them? Encourage open communication- that creates an important foundation to move forward in a productive way.

Some positive distraction might help too, to give you some respite. Something that focuses on you. It could be exercising, or watching a comedy show that makes you belly laugh. You can also keep working through your feelings on here too. Give yourselves time- as much time as you need.

Let us know how you go if you like, we are here to listen.

Tay100

uncut_gems
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Ttorna,

First of all I want to welcome you to the forums and thank you for your courage in sharing your predicament– this is absolutely the right place for this!

I'm sorry to hear about all this, it sounds very stressful and worrying. Here are my two cents:

Emotional blunting/detachment, as you correctly note, is a real phenomenon that is quite common in depression and other mental health conditions. It is also true that occasionally in romantic relationships feelings can suddenly disappear, but my hypothesis is that something different is happening here.

I think your friend and partner is reaching for language that she may not have and coming up short, and therefore deferring to the rhetoric of mental health and cognition. It sounds like the negative reaction she received from her family has made her doubt her decision to escalate this longstanding friendship to a romantic relationship, which of course is big leap on both your parts.

What you need to figure out is whether this is a case of cold feet that can be overcome, or if this is her way of saying that she is having serious second thoughts about this and would like to pump the brakes to preserve the underlying friendship, which no doubt is incredibly valuable to both of you. Either way, it is not fair to you to leave you guessing about her mental state, worrying what it is you've done wrong, and walking on eggshells as a result. That will lead to resentment and confusion, and again threaten this strong foundation of friendship.

I think the best thing for this is a kind but honest discussion where you ask here where she stands, and do your best to push for a better explanation than emotional blunting.

I hope you'll let us know how you go, and you're always welcome to share any developments or questions you might have.

Warmly,

Gems

Hi Gems,

She has told me talking to each other every day does help. I gave her many opportunities to go back to being friends, but she has insisted she wants this to work, and is trying very hard to overcome the numbness she feels towards me. I had thought about second thoughts, but she told me she felt completely secure in us before and felt so happy before her conversation with her sister, and claims it has nothing to do with anything I have done. It could still be that, but she seems so sure she feels this emotional numbness towards me. She says in the past she has either felt extreme emotion or nothing at all. I do feel like she is lost for the words to describe her exact emotions though. She keeps saying it is very hard to explain, despite saying it is getting better, but still insisting she doesn't feel anything beyond friendship for me at the moment.

I know that must be confusing to read and I am sorry.

TTorna
Community Member
Thanks Tay. Your advice is really good. I am trying to distract myself a lot from it. We have been communicating quite openly which has been good. I've tried not to overwhelm her on how I feel though, because I know she feels incredibly guilty and responsible for causing me pain, despite me telling her not to blame herself for the way her brain reacts, as I suspect, it may be trauma related too.

Hi TTorna,

Hope you're doing well. Any updates, if you care to share? Sending you my best.

Gems

Guest_3256
Community Member

Hey TTorna.

This is great place to reach out for support and I really feel for you in this hard time. It can be very difficult to ascertain what she is going through and why= but it sounds like you are very supportive and really want to progress with this person. It may be a touch ride, however, there's always light at the end of the tunnel, it will all come down to how hard you want to make your relationship work.

In this instance, try supporting her and showing/ telling her that you do care and want to help work through her difficulties. You must word it to her in a way so that she understands you will support her through her difficult time - to make it clear that her feelings are her own and that you are not to blame for her dilemma.

Wish you all the best, take it slowly and give her space where need be.

Hi all,

Thanks for the supportive replies and advice. It is all very helpful. We had a really great discussion the other night together, where I made my own feelings clear and the things I needed from her to make this work for me. We both agreed to see a professional doctor about it, her for her own issues, and me, because I have quite intense anxiety and I had been putting it off.

I have been trying to focus on myself, and meditating to keep my mind off it to be honest. Trying my best to be present and not focus on negative futures.

Baby steps.

TTorna,

Sounds like you're doing everything exactly right– communicating clearly, accessing the resources you need, and as you say, doing your best to be present. High hopes for you guys.

Best,

Gems

TTorna
Community Member
Thank you everyone for your kindness. I decided to end it. Nothing was getting better, and it was going to be weeks upon weeks before she could see a doctor. I wished her well, and I hope she gets some help for her stuff, while I will seek out help for mine.

It was very kind of everyone here to write such thoughtful replies :).