Being emotionally isolated is when your defence mechanism kicks in, and to protect yourself from emotional distress, you stop naturally communicating with people. When you do communicate with them, you keep the communication to a superficial level.
So you might have a wide social circle yet you probably show little interest in their feelings; and in that way you avoid intimate relationships altogether. You might put barriers in the way of deepening relationships; and you might socially isolate yourself from people to avoid getting hurt.
Most importantly you keep your feelings entirely to yourself, and you are not able to receive emotional support from others. You might even repress or suppress your own thoughts, feelings, opinions and beliefs. You might feel as if you have shut-down or feel numb.
Emotional isolation is triggered by social isolation, infidelity, abuse, fear of abandonment and other trust issues where emotional bonds have been broken.
Emotional isolation can start at any age, and with help be turned around. However many elderly, who are prone to become emotionally isolated when they lose the people who they shared intimacy with (partners, friends and family), have fewer opportunities of building up new relationships with the necessary meaningful connections.
Being emotionally isolated is unhealthy, as it prevents you having meaningful attachments in your life. Loneliness NZ helps people who feel emotionally isolated to understand themselves and those around them, and to work to improve their healthy interactions with people. For more information, see ‘I’m feeling lonely‘.
One way to further understand what emotional isolation means is to explore related terminology (by selecting one of the coloured rectangles below).