Detachment with love means caring enough about others to allow them to learn from their mistakes. It also means being responsible for our welfare and deciding our choices without ulterior motives. For example, the desire to control others. Loving detachment means separating yourself emotionally, spiritually, and/or mentally from another person and what they’re doing, saying, or thinking.
What is detaching with love?
Detaching (or detaching with love) is a core component of codependency recovery. If you often feel worried about a loved one, disappointed or upset by their choices, or your emotions revolve around whether they’re doing well, then detaching can help you.
According to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, detachment with love means caring enough about others to allow them to learn from their mistakes.
Codependency expert Melody Beattie says that when we detach, we relinquish our tight hold and our need to control our relationships. We take responsibility for ourselves; we allow others to do the same.
You’re probably wondering how to actually do it. Detaching is an action that helps you stay in your own lane or stay focused on what you can control and what your responsibility is, and not interfere in other people’s choices. Here are some examples:
- Not giving unsolicited advice
- Setting boundaries
- Allowing others to experience the natural consequences of their actions
- Recognizing that your feelings and needs are valid
- Expressing your own opinions and feelings
- Taking a time-out from an unproductive or hurtful argument
- Not accepting responsibility for fixing or solving other people’s problems
- Not making excuses for someone else’s behavior
- Staying focused on what you can control rather than worrying/thinking about what others are doing
- Not catastrophizing or expecting the worst probable outcome
- Not enabling or doing things others can reasonably do for themselves
Detaching doesn’t mean abandoning or that we stop caring. In fact, we have to detach because we care so much, and need to be needed, that it hurts us to stay so closely entwined in someone else’s life and problems. Detaching gives us the emotional space we need, so we’re not as reactive and anxious. It helps us be less controlling and accept things as they are, rather than forcing them to be what we want. Healthy detachment means stepping back from the situation. It means trying to solve the bigger problem—which would be a breakdown in how your family communicates—instead of proving that you are right.
Additional tips for detaching with love
Detaching is problematic and contrary to what codependents naturally want to do. So, I want to leave you with a few additional tips or reminders.
- Get support. Detaching is much more manageable when you have peer support (such as Al-Anon or Codependents Anonymous or another group) or professional support (such as a therapist).
- Detaching isn’t cruel. Often, it’s what allows us to continue to have a relationship with someone. If you don’t separate, your connection will suffer because of your controlling and interfering; you will end up resentful, guilt-ridden, and frustrated. And your emotional health and sense of self will undoubtedly suffer.
- Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. Being the healthiest, happiest version of yourself is best for everyone!
Detachment takes time and effort. Detachment takes twice as much hard work as attachment. In detachment, you forgive, forget, let go, move on, lose and win. Love doesn’t always go away just because we want it to. But even if you can’t entirely stop loving someone who doesn’t love you or caused you harm, you can manage those feelings in positive, healthy ways, so they don’t continue to cause you pain. In detachment, you will find yourself. Loving without attachment means not trying to change the person but appreciating them for exactly who they are, the good and the bad. It means letting our partners be precisely who they are, listening to them selflessly, without projecting our emotions or story onto them.
If you’re feeling really attached to your partner, you may wish to slow down and ask yourself if this is your anxious attachment talking.
- Are you taking care of yourself?
- Are you spending time with friends and family?
- Are you doing the things you enjoy in life?
If your answers to these questions are no, this is where you must start.
A strong foundation for healthy attachment is to make sure you come from a strong foundation yourself—a place of confidence and self-love. If you rely on getting all your love and affection from your partner, this is a surefire way to set yourself up for disappointment.
Slow things down if need be, and reach out for support from friends and family. Work on developing positive habits and give yourself some love, kindness, and compassion. Start a meditation and breath practice to slow down your heart or racing thoughts and invite security, calmness, and peace into the moment.
WE&P by: EZorrillaM.