Skip to main content

Emotional neglect in a relationship is a very serious thing, that can start small and continue to snowball into a massive obstacle that blocks the relationship from thriving. Of course, emotional neglect can go unnoticed for a long time, especially if one or both parties are in denial.

However, when you look close enough at the relationship, a picture begins to unfold, giving us a very clear picture of what is taking place. Emotional neglect is an invisible condition, but much like a deadly illness growing in the body, emotional neglect is a potentially fatal hit to any relationship, which can slowly destroy it bit by bit. Of course, all relationships go through major obstacles at one point or another, so a situation of emotional neglect does not mean that the relationship is over if the signs are noticed, acknowledged, and used as a means to catapult the couple into a healthier place.

With that said, if you have a sneaking feeling that your emotional needs are going unmet, to the extent of the following, it is time to address the big elephant in the room.

1. You avoid bringing up difficult things to your partner.

When you have something you need to say, but because it is ‘difficult’ and you fear it could cause conflict, you hold it in all the time, this is a sign that your emotional needs are not being addressed. In relationships, you should feel comfortable saying how you feel, even if it’s not optimal.

For those seeking to improve communication in their relationship, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life” by Marshall B. Rosenberg can offer effective techniques to express oneself honestly and empathetically.

2. You feel like you cannot say how you truly feel.

You are never able to say how you truly feel about your partner. Even when you do, you are likely to end up shut down or ignored.

3. Your partner does not support you.

When you are going through something difficult or even celebrating a major victory, your partner does not make you feel supported. Instead, you may feel like you cannot share anything with this person, because they do not support you.

To help couples create a more supportive and understanding relationship, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver provides practical guidance based on extensive relationship research.

4. You feel alone, even with your partner.

While everyone goes through periods in which things are ‘off’ in the relationship, it is not normal to feel alone all the time, when you are in love. If you spend the evening with your partner but feel as though you spent it alone, this is a major sign that you are being emotionally neglected.

For readers feeling isolated in their relationship, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” by Dr. Sue Johnson explores emotional responsiveness and ways to reconnect with your partner.

5. When you seek comfort from your partner, you do not get it.

A major part of any relationships, the ability to seek comfort in the person you love. This is not a high expectation. However, in cases of emotional neglect, you may seek out comfort only to be met with criticism or dismay.

6. Your partner isn’t the first person you want to go to with news.

When you have good or bad news, who is the first person you want to share it with? If you do not think about your partner at all when things either go your way or don’t, then something has gone awry.

7. Conversations feel forced.

Conversations with your partner should feel easy. You should be able to easily talk with them. However, if you are emotionally neglected, it may be hard to connect with your partner.

8. Emotional bonding only happens during sex.

Sex is a beautiful way to bond, but it should not be the only way. Emotional bonding is necessary for a happy relationship. If emotional intimacy is non-existent in your relationship, then it’s very likely you are being emotionally neglected.

To deepen emotional intimacy in a relationship, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” by Gary Chapman can be a transformative resource, helping couples understand and fulfill each other’s emotional needs.