Tears and Healing; The journey to the light after an abusive relationship
Detaching and Dimensions of Relationships
Well, talking about detaching seems to generate questions about whether it is possible to detach from someone while staying in the relationship. I thought about this, and I think this may be confusing just from lack of precise definition. I'll try to split this hair a little finer.
My belief is that detaching puts emotional distance between two people. When one person detaches because of significant harm being done by their partner, I believe this emotional distancing is also significant.
Detaching Interferes with Intimacy
One thing affected by detaching is intimacy. By that I mean trust, sharing or burdens, sharing of vulnerabilities, and mutual caring support. Let's call these the characteristics of an intimate relationship.
There are many other dimensions of relationship. Living together is very big. Parenting children together is another big one. Sharing financial burdens is another. You can think of many more, I'm sure.
So one way to split this hair of detachment is by looking at the different effects it has on intimate relationships vs. the effects on other types of relationship. I believe that significant detaching will significantly impair the intimate relationship. However, it is quite possible to detach and still maintain other types of relationship, like living together, etc.
The important point to see here is that if you are married or have an exclusive non-married relationship, if you detach from your partner, you are (to some degree) blocking your sole source of that intimate trust, sharing of burdens, etc. You are essentially going on an emotional fast with respect to those things - things that in our culture ONLY come through that exclusive relationship. And while this might be something that helps correct problems or works out best in the long run, it is a state of deprivation that is harmful to you.
Other Relationship Dimensions can Continue
Maintaining the other relationships: living together, co-parenting, etc, may help deal with other demands in life. These are reasonable concerns. But emotional deprivation is an insidious current that undermines our ability to be healthy and function well. So it must be seriously considered even when other life demands point toward maintaining the other relationship dimensions. Because having a home and 2 parents and paying the bills is not much good if you become too distressed to do what you need to do in life. And there are plenty of examples to illustrate that. So if you haven't already, go read On Changing Values.
So again, my suggestion is to ask whether you are getting what you need to stay healthy and function well. If the answer is no, it's probably time to consider what you can change to get those things.
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