Did you know that our earliest experiences of love and affection create the patterns of connection we take with us into our adult relationships? From the moment we are born we are taught how to get our needs met in a nonverbal way. This helps to establish our style of connection, our attachment style.

Attachment wounds can confuse us about what is our responsibility, and what is not, in our relationship. Often a person finds himself or herself unable to discern where they end and their partner begins. This can lead to negative patterns in your relationship like choosing unhealthy ways of connecting to our partner and having difficulties in getting your needs met.

Some tell-tale signs that attachment wounds are at play include:

  • Focusing on your partner’s life more than your own
  • Obsess about your partner
  • Make excuses for your partner’s unacceptable behaviour
  • Rescuing a partner by doing things for them that they are able to do for themselves
  • Doing a pull me/push you dance of distance and connection
  • Fearing your partner will leave you

Alternatively your partner might:

  • Create distance between the two of you
  • Be reluctant to make a commitment
  • Delay or not verbally express their love for you
  • Compare you to previous partners

If any of these examples sounds familiar, you may have an unhealthy attachment style. This can have significant negative impacts on your relationship. Understanding your own attachment wounds and those of your partner can change your relationship forever.

Learning to unhook from problematic ways of connection can be a relationship changer. Learning to see where we end and our partner begins can free both people up to take responsibility for their own choices and behaviour. A way to begin this process is learning to detach.

Detachment is:

Detaching can sound cold and unkind but it does not mean loving your partner any less. When you detach from your partner you will be able to respect his or her choices, even if you disagree with them.  Then you will be better able to take care of yourself too.

Healthy relationship attachment allows people to learn in their own way and time. When you detach from your partner you suspend judgment and release them from the pressure of expectations. A relationship with healthy attachment is one where you trust yourself and your partner.

Letting go of others and taking care of yourself means:

  • That you do not allow anyone to treat you badly
  • That you don’t do things for others that they are perfectly able to do for themselves
  • That other people’s behavior does not affect you more than it should
  • That you are able to set and maintain boundaries
  • That you don’t create crisis or drama
  • That you accept people for who they are

9 Ways to detach with love

Acceptance

Accept what is. This is a really difficult concept for so many people. Accepting doesn’t mean that you have to like or agree with the situation.  If you are able to accept things however you lose judgement over people and things that cause you distress and that can free you up to enjoy the things that are positive in your life.

Distraction

People often feel that they have no control over worrying thoughts and feelings. However we do, so when you being to worry or obsess about things set aside 20 minutes for worrying. Then when the time is up, move on and do something else, distract your mind from the worry.  This requires practice but if you stick at it you will notice it takes less and less time to let things go.

Action

An excellent way to stop our minds from taking over and making small worry into large crisis is to take some action. Exercise can be a wonderful way of distracting you but also it can be a very mindful activity.  Try to go outside for a walk focus your mind only on what you can see, hear and smell. This way of focusing is really soothing and very calming to both mind and body.

Breathing

We all breathe without thinking and often without intention. However when we feel stressed or anxious our breathing can change and be shallower.  Becoming deliberate about how you are breathing at these times can restore calm.  Breathing in for the count of four, holding your breath for the count of four and exhaling for the count of four has been shown to lower blood pressure.  Repeat this breathing pattern four times as often as you need to until you feel more relaxed and in control.

Reflection

When life feels chaotic and we feel like we don’t have control it’s helpful to hit the pause button. A way to achieve this is to take care of yourself only.  Let go of the need to rescue others and focus on you.  When you have strong thoughts and feeling about your partner or the relationship itself try writing it all down in a journal.  Do not censor yourself and get it all out in a safe, private place that no one will read. Re-reading this work at a later time can help you to see what might be causing the distress for you. This type of journaling has been shown to reduce anxiety and heal emotional wounds.

Attention

We are all wired for connection. When you are feeling hurt, distressed or ignored it can be helpful to find someone impartial to support and listen to you as you work through your relationship issues. If you cant find an impartial person then it may be a good idea to seek out some professional help.

Practice

Making changes to ourselves and to our relationships requires daily practice. Whether its communication, self-care or connection you are more likely to see long term changes if you are consistent and stick at it.  Set your intention and follow through, with time you will see your relationship with not only your partner but yourself improve.

Responsibility

Within all good relationships each partner must take responsibility for their part of the relationship.  This includes taking care of our own feelings, thoughts, wants, needs and behaviour. It is important that we are accountable and do not expect other people to read our minds or rescue us.

Compassion

Is an essential part of a loving, kind and connected relationship. We all make mistakes, we all feel ashamed from time to time, and we all want to be forgiven too.  Showing compassion to our partner enables them to do the same thing for us.  Don’t just keep the compassion for others, remember that self-compassion enables us to be kinder and more forgiving to ourselves.

When we struggle with attachment wounds from our history we need to take a look at what we are currently doing and change the things that no longer work. With kindness and persistence you can have the relationship you long for.

If you would like some assistance with detaching from other peoples negative impact on you – please take a look at my short downloadable workshop Detaching with Love 

Until next time …

Debbi

Debbi Carberry is a clinical social worker in private practice in Brisbane, where she specialises in relationships transformation. Debbi is the creator of the ground breaking online progam, “Rewrite Your Relationship Story