8 emotional consequences of feeling unloved in a relationship

All relationships have their ups and downs. So it’s natural to sometimes feel like intimacy and connection are lacking.

However, in a healthy relationship, loveless periods are just a phase.

So, if you’ve been feeling like your partner is emotionally and sexually uninterested in you for many months now, it might be something more serious.

The problem with feeling unloved in a relationship is that the longer it goes on, the harder it is to communicate your feelings.

However, this is NOT a relationship problem you should ignore, as feeling unwanted can have pretty severe emotional consequences…

Here are 8 reasons you should never ignore or accept a loveless relationship.

1) It lowers your self-esteem

Whether you feel emotionally unloved or unwanted sexually, this has a massive impact on your self-image.

As your partner neglects or rejects you, you will question your attractiveness, desirability, and worthiness of love. You might feel ugly, fat, or “past it.”

Over time, this leads to a negative self-image that affects all areas of your life. For example, you may feel unworthy of success or question your abilities and skills at work. 

2) You become self-critical

As feeling unloved makes us feel unseen and unworthy, being in a loveless or one-sided relationship increases the likelihood of self-critical and self-destructive behaviors. 

A recent research study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology supports this.

Researchers used a series of experiments and surveys to determine if a partner’s love can increase our previously low sense of self-worth.

They found that the more loved the participants felt by their partners, the less likely they were to engage in self-criticizing thoughts and self-sabotaging behaviors. 

This proves that feeling loved (or unloved) significantly impacts how we think about ourselves.

3) It causes depression

As feeling unloved changes how you perceive yourself, you might slip into a state of depression.

This is because human touch (such as hugging and kissing) releases oxytocin, the “love hormone.” Oxytocin creates feelings of bonding and security and regulates our mood. 

So, if your partner is distant from you, you might feel “starved” of oxytocin.

Studies have looked at the effect of low oxytocin levels. They found that if a person is oxytocin deficient, they will be less empathic, more aggressive, and less social. 

Other research has found that oxytocin levels can influence depressive disorders as the hormone modifies our stressor reactions.

So, how do you know if your loveless relationship is making you depressed?

Well, if so, you’ll likely experience the following signs:

  • A persistent feeling of sadness and helplessness
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Sleep difficulties, such as insomnia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating

4) It hinders your ability to set boundaries 

If your partner seems disinterested in you, you might think you must be doing something wrong.

Perhaps you blame yourself for not giving them enough attention or not making them feel loved enough.

If you get caught up in self-blame, you’ll likely put your partner’s needs before your own, convincing yourself that they will start to love you if you keep pleasing them.

As a result, you will neglect your needs, and the relationship will become even more one-sided – you’ll go above and beyond for your partner but get nothing in return.

What’s more, the low self-image you have developed will make it difficult for you to set boundaries. This puts you in a very vulnerable position to be taken advantage of.

As you feel that you don’t deserve love and respect, you will sacrifice everything for your unloving partner without hesitation.

5) It triggers loneliness and isolation

pic1837 8 emotional consequences of feeling unloved in a relationship

Feeling unloved creates a sense of rejection and abandonment. 

You might feel that if your partner doesn’t love you, no one else will, causing you to isolate yourself from the world.

Long-term feelings of neglect from a relationship can also cause hyper-independence. 

According to psychologist Dr. Amy Marschall, hyper-independence is a trauma response that occurs when you’ve learned you cannot rely on someone you love. You then apply this perspective to all other areas of your life.

In this case, as your partner doesn’t give you the support you need, you learn you can only rely on yourself. 

This excessive self-reliance deepens your feelings of loneliness as you avoid asking for help because you believe no one cares about you.

You avoid social gatherings as you convince yourself no one wants you there. You may even stop seeing family as you develop the belief that you are a hindrance and annoyance to everyone. 

6) It can make you paranoid

As your partner shows no interest in you emotionally or sexually, you might start to think that they must be cheating on you. 

Once this idea enters your head, it can become extremely emotionally damaging. 

Here’s why:

Our minds want to understand why our partner is not showing us love. 

So, if you discover one small sign that your partner may be giving their love to someone else, the mind grabs hold of this idea. 

It then attempts to intensify this idea by seeking further information that supports it. This results in paranoid behavior like:

  • Going through your partner’s phone
  • Checking up on them constantly
  • Wanting to know where they are and who they are with at all times

According to clinical psychologist and marriage counselor Randi Gunther, Ph.D, feeling paranoid that your neglectful partner is cheating is most common in people who have experienced infidelity in the past.

Gunther explains that someone who has been betrayed by infidelity can experience PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms that mirror paranoia, including:

  • Repeated intrusive thoughts
  • Tendency to keep scanning for new data to support their thoughts
  • Assigning blame as a way to regain self-worth 

Therefore, if you’ve experienced infidelity in the past, feeling unloved in your current relationship will likely cause more severe emotional consequences.

7) You’re more likely to consider cheating

Of course, feeling unloved in a relationship also increases the chance of infidelity on your side.

This often happens after many months or years of feeling neglected. At this point, you will feel like you’ve tried everything to get your partner interested again, with no success. 

So, eventually, your patience will start to wear thin. 

Perhaps one day, someone will compliment you on your appearance or ask for your number. 

Rather than automatically dismiss them, you’ll consider responding to their advances.

When your partner neglects you, seeing that someone else is interested in you makes you feel good about yourself. So, if you pursue this new person, you’ll quickly realize that you feel much better with them than with your partner. 

You might also purposely pursue someone else to “punish” your partner for their coldness or to get them to finally “see” you.

8) It can cause attachment issues in future relationships 

Lastly, the emotional consequences of feeling unloved go beyond your current relationship – it could also affect your future ones.

The trauma from being with a partner who withholds their love can lead you to develop insecure attachment styles. 

This is because, as studies have found, insecure attachment is associated with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem – which are all other emotional consequences of feeling unloved.

People with insecure attachments often feel anxious and fearful in their relationships, struggling to trust their partner and feel secure with them.

As a result, they might:

  • Struggle to communicate feelings
  • Suppress their emotions
  • Either avoid getting too close to their partner or become excessively needy
  • Have frequent and unpredictable outbursts

Final thoughts

When you feel unloved and unwanted, bringing the topic up with your partner can feel daunting. 

However, communicating your feelings is the only way to move past this situation. 

So, if your partner is not meeting your needs, make time for an honest and open discussion with them. 

Communicate your feelings calmly and respectfully without blaming or criticizing your partner. Then, give them a chance to have their say.

Sometimes, people don’t know they’re being distant. So, this conversation could be what they needed to realize their behavior. 

Or they may open up, and you’ll realize their distant attitude has nothing to do with you but is due to something personal they’re dealing with.

Either way, the only way to find out what is going on is to have a heart-to-heart.

Gemma Clarke

Gemma Clarke

I am a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher and an experienced content writer in the spirituality and personal growth space. I’m passionate about sharing my expertise through the power of words to inspire and guide others along the path of personal and spiritual development.

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