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Dear Dr. Yael,

I am a man in shidduchim and in my early 30s. I get redt (suggested) a lot of girls but I have a hard time connecting. I think that my problem emanates from coming from a home that was a bit cool.


I wish my parents were more demonstrative and gave me more attention. I would love to hear your response.

A Fan


Dear Fan,

Thank you for your letter. It is possible that you are having trouble connecting with others because of your upbringing. Research has shown that children need a lot of emotional connection from their parents/caregivers. If their emotional needs are not met or emotional connection is not given to them, they may stop expecting it. In order to stop expecting emotional connection, children may turn off their emotional receptors. This can lead to depressed mood, an inability to demonstrate or share emotions, and/or behavior problems. When situations are more difficult, this can turn into emotional detachment.

Emotional detachment is when a person disengages or disconnects from other people’s emotions. It may come from an unwillingness or an inability to connect with others. Emotional detachment can be a positive thing at times, but it can also be worrisome. It can sometimes be the result of things that have happened to an individual, which makes them unable to be open and honest about their emotions.

There are two general types of emotional detachment. In some cases, an emotional detachment can come about as a response to a difficult or stressful situation. In other cases, it may develop from an underlying psychological condition.

Emotional detachment can be helpful in situations where a person needs to set boundaries with certain people. It can help an individual maintain a healthy distance from people who demand too much emotional attention. On the other hand, if an individual cannot control their ability to detach emotionally, this can be harmful to them.

People who are emotionally detached may experience symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty creating or maintaining relationships
  • Inattentive or preoccupied when around others
  • Difficulty being loving or affectionate with a family member
  • Avoiding people, activities, or places because they’re associated with past trauma
  • Difficulty expressing emotions
  • Having a hard time empathizing with another person’s feelings
  • Difficulty sharing emotions or feelings
  • Having a hard time committing to another person or a relationship
  • Not making another person a priority when they should be

Emotional detachment may develop as a result of various potential causes, which can include:

  • Constant exposure to bad or unpleasant news
  • A traumatic experience
  • Abuse
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Being taught to do so as a child due to parental or cultural expectations

If emotional detachment is due to any of the above reasons, previous experiences may make it hard to be open and honest with a friend, loved one, and/or significant other. This is because the individual needed to emotionally detach in order to survive, so it is hard to just magically be able to emotionally attach, even if that individual is currently in a safe environment.

Treatment for emotional detachment depends on the reason that is happening. It is important to seek professional help to see why you are having difficulty connecting to others. If you are experiencing emotional detachment, speaking to a therapist can help you learn new ways to process experiences and anxieties that have upset you in the past and led to emotional detachment. If you just need help to connect better with others, a therapist can help with this as well. Hatzlocha in exploring why you are having trouble connecting to others and in getting the help you need to find your bashert!


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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to [email protected]. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at