Reasons for a lost emotional connection depend on the nature of and circumstances surrounding the relationship. An abusive or dysfunctional relationship may rupture the emotional connection between people in traumatic ways. A violent incident can shut down the victim's emotional responses. People in a healthy relationship may endure a phase of overwhelming demands at work or parenthood and may slowly grow distant from each other due to lack of time.
Couples in a long-term relationship often need space or periods of separation to regain a sense of being individuals. In some instances, the separation is physical. One person in the relationship resumes an education, takes on a new job or invests time in a new hobby. The separation may simply be emotional. Someone may need time alone to reconnect with himself or spend time with friends. The emotional connection is put on hiatus but is not necessarily lost. The couple typically draws back together, with both members feeling rejuvenated and exhibiting renewed interest in the relationship.
If one or both people in the relationship endure verbal, physical or sexual abuse, emotional connections can be altogether destroyed. Emotional connections are founded on trust. Once a person's trust has been shaken by abusive acts, ranging from humiliating remarks to a physical beating, it's difficult to recover or sustain a healthy emotional connection between people in a relationship. A victim of abuse will build a defensive wall as way to protect herself, shutting out the perpetrator of the abuse.
A couple may start taking each other for granted and fail to work on the relationship. A lost emotional connection can result from a slow descent into complacency. One person in the relationship may not prioritize the relationship, leaving the other person feeling abandoned. Callous treatment, such as insensitive or disrespectful behavior, can lead to small slights or hurts that accumulate over time. These relationships unravel, notch by notch, until they're no longer viable.
If a couple is unable to communicate over issues that tax the relationship, emotional detachment may result. In some cases, one person tries to talk about uncomfortable subjects and the other person can't handle the discussion and refuses to engage. If the couple fails to resolve conflict in a healthy way, the relationship can suffer from a buildup of unresolved issues. These issues may stem from childhood or emerged during the relationship. Regardless of the source of the issues, a couple may lose their emotional connection due to living in denial that anything is wrong.
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.