Emotional neglect often seeps into a relationship undetected.
If left to fester and grow, this will result in a build-up of anger and resentment from the person on the receiving end.
By then, it may be too late to address the issue.
It’s usually not as obvious as someone giving their partner the cold shoulder or outrightly ignoring them. Oftentimes, the signs are much more subtle, yet the effects are keenly felt.
If you suspect that this may be happening in your relationship, here are 6 signs you should look out for.
1) Your needs are not being met.
The root cause of emotional neglect is unmet needs or expectations.
Your partner is usually the first person you turn to for comfort, encouragement, and support.
But if you feel that you’re not receiving enough emotional support from them, this may be the result of indifference or ignorance on their part.
However, if you have repeatedly communicated your feelings to your partner and they still fail to provide you with the amount of care you’re hoping to receive, they’re most likely not acknowledging your needs.
They may also not care anymore.
If this continues in the long run, it may damage the trust and ultimately, the relationship.
2) Your partner is emotionally distant.
As mentioned, emotional neglect will not present itself in obvious ways.
Your friends may not even be aware of this when you and your partner are out with them.
But when it’s just the two of you, you can sense that there’s distance. Your partner withdraws and refuses to open up or be vulnerable with you.
They’re no longer interested in a deeper connection with you, and your interactions with them are kept at a very superficial level.
You find yourself yearning for a closeness that never seems to come.
While it’s not easy to open up completely to someone, both parties should feel comfortable enough in a healthy relationship to do so, after getting to know each other better.
Trust plays a big role in this.
So, if you find yourself in this situation, you may want to identify the cause and work to address it.
Another way emotional neglect presents itself is when…
3) They minimize your feelings.
Getting gaslighted when you’re at your most vulnerable is one of the worst feelings in the world.
You’re hoping to get some support from the person you trust, but instead of validating your emotions, they’re dismissing them.
I know a friend who has an incredibly taxing job, where she has to be on her feet throughout and is required to work day and night shifts.
Night shifts can be rough, and during particularly difficult ones, she’ll share them with her partner.
And all he does is tell her that her feelings may all just be in her mind.
Initially, she thought that since he didn’t fully understand what she was doing at work, that was a normal response.
But when she shared her struggles with her friends, she realized that their responses were vastly different – they sympathized, validated her feelings, and encouraged her.
It was then that she realized something was off in her relationship.
For the first time, she felt seen and heard – something she’s never experienced before with her partner.
It was very clear that her partner wasn’t interested in helping her through difficult times.
And if you’re on the receiving end of something similar, you may start to feel that…
4) You don’t trust your partner.
Trust is one of the key things that binds a couple together, and may even be the foundation of most healthy and stable relationships.
So, when this trust is gone, it’s hard to repair what’s left of the relationship.
If you get repeatedly shunned by your partner after attempting to share your needs with them, you’ll trust them less and distance yourself from them.
When you’re with them, you don’t feel secure or assured. Instead, you may feel fearful of being vulnerable, as talking to them may hurt you even more.
As a result, you may not turn to your partner when you need to find someone to talk to.
5) You feel lonely when you’re together.
Do you feel that they’re miles away even though they’re sitting right next to you?
The both of you may still be talking or interacting with each other but mentally, one person has clocked out of the relationship. It’s as if they’re somewhere else, and perhaps they want to be somewhere else.
You start to realize that the person you thought was the one is now nothing more than a stranger, or just someone else occupying space next to you.
You’re no longer able to find the same amount of support or comfort from them as you did previously.
Furthermore, this may lead to the next sign.
6) There’s a lack of physical intimacy.
Remember how the both of you were so eager to be together when you first started dating?
Now, you may not even remember the last time you kissed or cuddled.
And when you bring this up to your partner, they may tell you that they’re tired or that they’re not in the mood.
Perhaps you find yourself wanting to give them space, but deep down, you know that the relationship is no longer the same.
If you’ve ticked these signs like checkboxes after examining your relationship, don’t be discouraged.
You now have some clarity on what is going on in your relationship. You may want to bring this up with your partner and share your feelings honestly.
While it’s important for them to understand the hurt they’ve caused, try not to dwell too much on this as they may get defensive. Steer the conversation towards how both of you can work towards a healthier relationship. Emphasize the importance of working together in this journey.
Then, observe their reactions – are they being defensive or acknowledging their actions and the hurt that they’ve caused you?
Depending on their reaction, you can then decide on the next step.
Always remember that you’re not alone in this. Talk to friends and family to get their perspective and support. Sometimes we may be blinded by our own biases that we fail to consider other factors.
Relationships aren’t perfect and there will be ups and downs throughout the journey.
But you should be able to receive support and comfort if you’re pursuing a committed, long-term relationship.
If you aren’t, you may want to reconsider the person you’re with.
Life’s too short for you to be with someone who doesn’t choose you.