Feeling neglected in a relationship is one of the most painful things you can experience. It can be more heartbreaking than being rejected since your partner's indifference implies that you are not important enough for them to care about you.
Emotional neglect is more a matter of perception than a sum of behaviors. You may begin to notice that you and your partner are spending less and less time together or that your significant other prioritizes friends or work over the relationship. This leads you to feel invisible, lacking intimacy or any kind of special connection.
However, many couples have gone through the same rough patch and succeeded in overcoming it by no longer ignoring the problem and taking action accordingly.
This article describes what emotional neglect looks like in a relationship, its consequences, and what steps you can take to get back to enjoying your love life.
What Is Emotional Neglect in a Relationship?
Emotional neglect in a marriage or relationship can be easily misunderstood because it is intangible, unlike other problematic scenarios such as physical or emotional abuse that manifest in a particular harmful action.
If you feel neglected in a relationship, your partner is not responding adequately to your emotional needs. It's a lack of action rather than a discernible demeanor.
Although you cannot describe exactly what behaviors your partner does to make you feel unloved, being noticed and cared for is fundamental to keeping your self-esteem up and your relationship on track.
In a 2004 study, researchers found that the difference between thriving marriages and those that ended in divorce is the frequency with which the partners meet each other's requests for emotional rapport.
Emotional neglect can creep into any couple's life over time. When two partners have been together for a while, it is natural for them to take each other for granted as they get used to their constant presence.
That's why they stop putting effort into elaborate dates, dressing up for each other, etc., and start prioritizing other activities outside of the relationship, such as outings with friends or personal hobbies. But even though it may be expected, it’s important to address these feelings to avoid jeopardizing the future of your relationship.
If your partner constantly misinterprets your intentions and feelings, makes you feel bad when you seek support, or you feel lonely when you are in their company, these are signs that emotional neglect is slowly undermining your relationship.
There are some actions you can take on your own, with your partner, or with professional help to help you get out of this rut and be able to move on.
How to Address the Problem of Being Neglected in a Relationship?
Be honest with yourself
First, try taking a step back and looking at your situation objectively to discover the reasons that led you to feeling emotionally neglected.
Ask yourself if you are putting too many expectations on this relationship, as this can lead you to feel even more neglected. Instead of expecting your romantic partner to be your soul mate, best friend, family, etc., make sure these needs are being met by other people or areas of your life.
By doing so, you will put less pressure on your relationship and partner to be everything at once.
Be honest with your partner
The next thing you can do is be completely honest with your partner. We expect others to understand our emotional needs, especially if we've been dating that person for a long time.
But let's face it: no one can read our minds. If you are waiting for your significant other to do something and it never happens, you may feel emotionally neglected, frustrated, and let down.
Learn to be explicit about your needs without being defensive about them to get a positive response from your partner.
Focus on the solution
It is also very easy to get stuck thinking about how frustrated and unappreciated you feel, but this only delays the solution.
Have a solution-focused mindset and think about how you would feel being valued and fulfilled in your relationship. Find out what you need from your partner and what things you can do differently to get to this state.
Think about what your partner is feeling
Sometimes, it helps to shift your perspective and ask yourself if your partner feels appreciated by you. What do you do to make your romantic partner feel valued and loved? In many cases, both parties neglect their partner in the relationship.
As uncomfortable as it may be, this puts you back in control, as you can take action and address what needs to be changed.
Communication is essential to a strong and healthy relationship. Notice if your way of expressing your emotions and thoughts is too convoluted and leads to misinterpretations that evolve into a much bigger problem.
Without proper communication, we keep working with distorted beliefs about each other, giving room for resentment, hostility, apathy, or confusion to manifest in the relationship.
So sort out your feelings and call your partner. Tell them that you feel neglected in the relationship and discuss how to solve this problem.
How to Communicate Effectively About Feeling Neglected in a Relationship
Professional therapists use the following communication exercises to help people discuss what is going on in their relationship and find a solution to their problems.
This is simply about using positive language toward your partner, no matter how upset or frustrated you are with the situation. It may be challenging not to yell or call names when talking about feeling neglected, but positive language promotes mutual problem-solving.
Sharing your feelings
Most people aren’t adept at sharing their emotions. You may have grown up in a home where no one talked about each other's feelings or where being vulnerable was taken as a weakness.
However, it would help if you acknowledged that the only way out of this problem is to share your dissatisfaction with your partner. Explain clearly how you feel and why you feel the way you do. Encourage them to do the same without interrupting, even if you disagree with them.
Talking is useless if neither is listening correctly to the other. It may seem like you’re listening, but consider if you are actually taking in just a few words and then preparing your response in your head.
Practice being an active listener by paying attention to everything your partner is saying and trying to understand their point of view. Also, when you are talking, focus on one issue at a time instead of constantly jumping back and forth between topics.
If you are too focused on feeling neglected in your marriage and other negative aspects of your relationship, you may overlook the positive things your partner does to help you.
For example, they may make you breakfast every morning or make the bed every day without complaining. These may seem like trivial actions, but they sure make your routine more enjoyable.
Make a list of all those little gestures that you appreciate from your partner, and you’ll find that the whole scenario will improve dramatically.
Recognize that you cannot control all of your partner's actions, no matter how hard you try. You are only responsible for your thoughts, emotions, and behavior, so try not to let their emotional neglect affect the rest of your life.
Putting yourself in their shoes
Perhaps your partner's neglect has nothing to do with you. They may be dealing with other issues outside of the relationship that is consuming them mentally and emotionally.
Find out if something is going on in their work or family and, if so, remember that it won't be like this forever. Give your partner some time and offer your support if they want it.
Can Online Therapy Help?
If you’ve tried all the communication techniques and still feel neglected in your relationship, it may be time to seek professional help. If you think that your relationship issues are getting out of hand, a therapist can help you mediate the problem and find appropriate solutions.
Online therapy may be a good alternative for you and your partner if you live out of town or have a hectic lifestyle. You can do online counseling together or separately until your differences are worked out.
The consequences of feeling neglected can be addressed in therapy sessions. You can learn how to reconnect with each other and effectively recover the intimacy in your relationship.
Online therapy is a fantastic option for those searching for more convenient yet equally effective treatment. It opens a new door for those who haven't tried therapy before or have already tried in-person therapy but are searching for a more comfortable option.
In addition, online therapy is more affordable than in-person treatment, provides anonymity if you so desire, and has more options available for finding the ideal therapist for you.
What's the Bottom Line?
Feeling neglected in a relationship is a common complaint of most long-term couples. A wife may be feeling neglected by her husband and vice versa. These feelings can be dangerous if they are not properly addressed, putting the relationship at stake, as well as your mental health.
However, all couples go through crises, and many of them have managed to come out of them unscathed. Learning to communicate effectively is key to resolving these feelings and rebuilding your relationship.
And if you feel that the problem is beyond your control, you can always seek professional help.
Find qualified mental health professionals to start online therapy with on DoMental to help you work through the harmful consequences of feeling neglected in a relationship. You can learn how to communicate more effectively and rebuild intimacy and trust with your partner.